If you have friends abroad or a family member in the military, then you’ll probably want to send gifts or care packages from time to time. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about shipping internationally.
More specifically, we’ll discuss USPS customs forms—what they’re for, when to use them, and how to complete them. Knowing this information will help ensure that your packages reach their recipients safely and efficiently.
USPS Customs Form In 2023
USPS and all other major couriers require a customs form for international shipments. These forms are used to declare the contents and value of a shipment. They’re also used as an acknowledgment that the sender has complied with shipping laws. USPS requires customs forms for all international shipments, except those weighing less than 16 ounces sent through First-Class Mail International.
To find out more about USPS’ customs forms including what they’re for, when to use them, and how to fill them out check out the rest of our article.
What Are USPS Customs Forms For?
Customs forms (sometimes called customs declarations) serve to declare the contents and value of a shipment being sent internationally.
In addition, they act as an acknowledgment that the sender has complied with the shipping laws of both the country of origin and the destination country.
This covers things like not mailing prohibited goods or sending currency above the maximum authorized amount.
Customs authorities scrutinize these forms when a package arrives in the destination country. Part of this inspection involves evaluating whether any taxes or duties are due on the shipment.
Can I Print USPS Customs Forms Online?
You can print a customs form from the USPS website and fill it out by hand if you wish.
Additionally, you can use USPS’ Click-N-Ship service to complete your customs form online and print an international shipping label at the same time.
Can I Complete A Customs Form At The Post Office?
In addition to completing a customs form at home or online, customs forms are also available at the Post Office.
Look for form PS 2976-R (also called USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note), complete it, and present it with your package to a clerk at the counter.
Be aware that when filling out this form, the USPS employee will enter the data from your form and print out the customs form.
We’re mentioning this because having a USPS employee complete this step usually takes longer than completing the form online.
Therefore, if you’re short on time, we don’t recommend waiting until you get to the Post Office to fill out the customs form.
How Do I Complete A USPS Customs Form?
Filling out USPS’ customs form is fairly simple, especially since both the digital and physical versions provide detailed instructions about the information you need to provide.
Before doing anything, we recommend verifying any mail prohibitions or restrictions for the country you’re mailing to. USPS keeps a country-specific list of that information here.
Avoiding items on this list will not only ensure that your package clears customs more quickly, but will also keep you out of trouble.
APO, FPO, and DPO addresses have their own set of prohibitions and restrictions. You can find a list of them here.
If completing a hard copy of the form, make sure to use a blue or black ink pen and press firmly so your writing goes through all of the copies.
Regardless of which format you choose for the form, you’ll be asked to fill out basic information about the sender and the receiver. This includes the name and complete address for both parties.
Next, you’ll be asked to provide a description of the items in your package. For example, you may write something like “Men’s sweaters” or “box of pens.”
Be as specific as possible when filling out this section. Writing things like “food products” or “toiletries” is not considered detailed enough by USPS.
Keep in mind that you should list each item on a new line of the form if your package contains several different products.
For each item you list, you’ll be asked to provide the quantity of the items and the value of each item.
Then, you must fill in the weight and dimensions of the package and the date you’re mailing it.
Finally, you’ll need to indicate what to do if your parcel is considered undeliverable (i.e. “return to sender” or “treat as abandoned”).
If you’re sending the package as part of a business deal, you’ll also be asked to enter the invoice number and tariff number.
How To Attach Customs Forms To USPS Packages?
Customs documents must be securely fastened to the outside of your package.
Having these documents within reach allows customs officers to quickly and easily check which items are being sent, as well as their value.
Knowing this information allows them to calculate how much duty may or may not be owned.
Your best option is to use a “documents enclosed” pouch. This clear plastic sleeve is self-adhesive and is designed to prominently display customs forms.
Post Offices have these pouches, as do other shipping companies and/or supply stores.
Another option is to use a clear plastic wallet or envelope. Just make sure to tape it down so the customs forms don’t move in transit.
Finally, standard envelopes taped to the side of the package with “Customs” written on the outside of the envelope are also acceptable, just make sure not to cover any barcodes.
When mailing abroad, never forget to complete a customs form. You can fill one out online or at the Post Office, just make sure you’re as detailed and honest as possible. Completing the form correctly will help make sure that your package gets where it needs to go without any hangups.