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Expert reveals the gifts you must never send at Christmas

by LLB staff reporter
13th Dec 23 9:08 am

The deadline for sending Christmas gifts overseas in time for the big day is rapidly approaching. The last thing anyone needs is for shipments to be delayed, returned or even destroyed at Customs because they have fallen foul of couriers’ regulations or broken national laws.

That’s why the UK-based international delivery specialist ParcelHero is sharing its top tips to ensure no one sends prohibited or banned items this Christmas.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘We’ve been making a list, and counting it twice, to reveal what items are naughty or nice when sending abroad this Christmas.

‘There are two sets of rules to watch out for when shipping abroad. Firstly, individual countries’ own Customs regulations and, secondly, each courier’s own rules about what they prohibit from being sent with them. ParcelHero’s own prohibited items page covers not only the items that we won’t ship ourselves, but also includes all the major couriers’ individual prohibited items lists. You may find that one courier will accept an item that others may refuse. So study the list carefully!

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‘Meanwhile, here’s a general guide to some favourite gifts that you may have trouble sending abroad by courier this Christmas:

Christmas crackers

‘Firstly, not every country has a tradition of pulling Christmas crackers. But, even if you want everyone’s Christmas to go with a bang, take note that some couriers specifically ban Christmas crackers.

Christmas puds and treats

‘If you are sending Christmas favourites overseas, there are several rules to be aware of when sending by courier:

  • Store-bought foods must be non-perishable. Many couriers require a best before date over six months away.
  • Items must be in the original manufacturers’ packaging and unopened.
  • The food label must list all the ingredients.
  • The best before date must be displayed on the packaging.

‘There are other unexpected restrictions on food and drink you need to be aware of. For example, if you are sending chocolate Christmas treats to the USA, don’t send chocolate Kinder Surprise Eggs with a little toy inside – America doesn’t allow any food that has non-edible components.

‘Similarly, don’t include a knife to cut that cake you are sending, or your entire parcel could get halted at Customs and you could even be fined.

‘If you want to send home-baked items, such as a Christmas pudding, the bad news is no international courier will handle these foods because it’s impossible to determine when they may go off. Imagine the rotting result of any delivery stuck at Customs for too long!

‘ParcelHero’s advice is that, if you know anyone visiting your friends and family overseas this Christmas, it is permissible for them to take your homemade perishable food with them through Customs. Failing that, you can always send the recipe so your friends and family can enjoy your plum pudding every year!

Perfumes and booze

‘Want to send someone a special perfume? Unfortunately, most couriers will turn up their noses at the idea. Perfume, cologne and fragrances all have varying levels of ethyl alcohol content, which is extremely flammable. This flammable component means perfume is what’s known as a “hazard class 3” in the world of shipping.

‘For the same reason, the majority of couriers won’t accept alcohol. Booze is also considered a class 3 hazardous good. Furthermore, it has complex taxation rules when sent to other countries. For these reasons, all but specialist international freight companies are teetotal when it comes to handling alcohol. It’s best to save that whisky or eggnog until you are next with your friends and family in person!

Laptops, mobiles and e-scooters

‘Another major reason for items to be banned by Customs or prohibited by couriers is because they contain certain kinds of batteries, such as lithium-ion. Lithium-ion battery cells are considered highly flammable and may overheat in high temperatures. Certain couriers won’t accept any products with batteries included and most won’t accept batteries not inside a device.

‘If you are going to ship an iPhone or android mobile that contains an attached, non-removable lithium-ion battery, our advice is do not charge it to more than 30%. The main point is not to remove the battery before shipping. Check your chosen couriers’ prohibited list, but several will accept phones and laptops that meet these conditions.

‘Moving on to some other fun pressies that are also impacted by the same issues, hoverboards and e-scooters are prohibited by certain couriers and even banned by some countries because of their battery packs.

Jewellery and furs

‘We’re moving even further upmarket now, but it’s important to note that some couriers don’t accept jewellery at all and others won’t transport jewels beyond a certain value. That’s because, if something were to go wrong with a shipment, the value of the parcel could be considerable and the piece could even be irreplaceable. For that reason, it’s best to approach specialist couriers if you are planning to send precious items. The same rules often apply to artwork, especially unique items.

‘Furs will also appear on many carriers’ prohibited lists because they are banned by many countries. In addition, other countries may have strict restrictions on the fur’s origin or what kind of animal it is from. Basically, as far as most couriers are concerned, fur-get it.

‘Armed with all this knowledge, your international parcels should make it through in time for Christmas, the deadline for which is fast-approaching. For example. the final sending date for New Zealand is 15 December. That’s a date that could take people by surprise.

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