The best advice on how to avoid hidden postage costs, customs, tax and duties; and most effectively get a beautiful Australian gift to France
If you don’t want to pay a small fortune on postage, duties and taxes; and want to successfully get a thank-you, Merry Christmas gift hamper, or birthday gift to France, there are 5 key factors you need to consider when purchasing and sending a gift: weight; what you’re going to put your gift in; the type of gift you are sending; special documentation; and if your gift is Made in Australia.
Firstly, select a gift that is light and small! This is because, for most international carriers, cost of postage is calculated based on the dimensional weight (also called volumetric or cubic weight), or the actual weight – whatever is heavier.
Each freight carrier has a different calculator for dimensional weight that is a multiplier depending on the width / length / height of the package.
Here are some links to calculate dimensional weight:
Secondly, you want to consider what you are going to put in your gift to get it posted BEFORE you buy it. If you haven’t thought about it but go to your local Australia Post shop, you might find your gift doesn’t quite fit in their standard Box 2 (31 x 22.5 x 10.2cm) but will have too much room in their standard Box 3 (40 x 20 x 18cm).
Not only will this impact the weight and cost of sending your gift, but you’ll also need to buy some bubble wrap or similar cushioning so your gift arrives without damage to its final destination.
Thirdly, consider what you are sending as this impacts the feasibility of getting through customs without incurring taxes and duties. Even if your gift gets through customs, France will charge the receiver any duties payable in order to collect their gift. Yes, even though it is a gift!!! If the receiver refuses to pay these, your gift will be returned back to you.
Keep the gift value under 45 Euros per person including shipping, and don’t send anything on the ‘restricted’ list to avoid taxes.
Note – if you are sending to 2 people you can have 45 Euro each for a gift (total Euro 90 including shipping). Make sure you wrap and label each gift individually.
As a general rule, anything that is classed as ‘prohibited’ definitely CANNOT be sent at all. Anything just “restricted” can usually be sent either in moderation or following particular guidelines. As noted above, restricted items may incur taxes and duties so it’s worth checking! This link will show you restricted and prohibited items to France. You might be surprised to see Toys and Games, as well as wood and wood products goes on this list.
If you are sending via a courier service, 100% of parcels will be checked for taxes and duties. If you are sending through Australia Post, about 10% will be checked in detail. At Christmas, due to the large volume of parcels, this % goes down a little.
Items like Wine are an example of restricted items. They can be sent to France however they usually incur extremely heavy taxes, as the French government would prefer their locals to drink French wine! So for an average 750ML bottle of red wine sent as a gift, for example, taxes can be up to $80. Eek! You won’t know about this until your parcel has left Australia and is asked to be collected by the receiver in France. The post service will hold the package until the receiver pays these duties.
If you just want to send wine, you can go to a company that specialises in this, and you may find some Australian wine held by a company in France ready to dispatch next day to France.
Gifts generally do not need an invoice, but you must clearly mark them ‘ gifts envoi isole gratuit’.
Additionally, you will need to declare what is in the package and the value of it.
You also may be asked for the email address and phone number of the receiver – if it’s asked as an option we recommend giving it! We have noticed increased security on parcels in France and this seems to help smoothly get your gift through customs.
Finally, people in France like Australia. So you can understand it’s a little disappointing to receive a beautiful parcel from overseas only to find the gift isn’t Australian made. To be sure, look for the Australian made logo or check out certified Australian made retailers on the Australian Made campaign’s site