Top tips on sending food and wine overseas from Australia including what to send and how to send it
As you may already have heard, the common answer to this question on what Australian food or wine you can send to other countries is ‘it depends’.
An annoying answer!
It’s true that it does depend on a number of factors including what the gift is; how much of it your sending; and where you’re sending it to.
Each country is different, and although regulations in each country don’t change often, they do change at times.
Having said that, there are some general rules that apply when sending Australian food and wine overseas that we have outlined below.
Perishable food is defined as food with a limited shelf life if it’s not refrigerated. i.e. it will go off if it’s not kept in the fridge.
So if you were going to leave it on the bench for a day or so, and it’d go off, don’t send it. Something like Vegemite is okay, but a juicy Aussie steak is not (unless you have a commercial grade permit).
You’ve got more chance of getting food through if it’s non-perishable and has at least 6 months before it expires.
If it’s got liquid in it, it will often require special permits to get through or it’s not allowed.
If in doubt, leave it out!
The answer is ‘sometimes’.
When you send Australian wine overseas, you will be charged import taxes and duties by the customs officials in the country you are sending to.
Generally, sending wine to the UK and Japan is pretty good – and taxes for one, 750ml 14.0% ALC/VOL wine bottle (for example and at the time of publishing this article) are approximately $15.
If you want to send to Germany or France, or anywhere in Northern Europe, taxes are much, much higher – for example for the same bottle of wine can be up to $60.
You cannot send wine as a gift to Canada or the USA because of very strict customs regulations.
Sometimes you will also need additional permits.
See here for more detailed information from Fedex on guidance for sending wine per country.
We also recommend some serious cushioning for your wine for packaging.
We’ve never had problems because our wine is wrapped in bubble-wrap, in a gift hamper box that has a wood-wool filling, in another box that has cushioning on it.
We’ve heard people sending, for example, 6 or 12 bottles in a case have had the glass smash because there isn’t any additional care taken with this – so be careful!
There is a BIG difference between sending via a courier versus Australia Post.
Australia Post generally will not transport food or wine overseas.
So you will need to go through a courier. The major international couriers are DHL and Fedex.
When you send via a courier, their service is excellent; however you WILL be charged local taxes and duties at your destination, 100% of the time.
If you don’t want your receiver to pay local taxes and duties, you will need to notify the courier that these fees need to be charged back to your credit card.
The cost of taxes and duties vary depending on the country, and always apply to alcohol whether you are giving a personal gift or send a commercial piece.
So for example, to send a $20 bottle of wine may cost you anywhere between $10 and $50 in local taxes (not including freight).
Generally Spain, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Peru (to name a few) are extremely difficult to get food and wine into (from Australia or any other country). This is because on top of general customs rules, they have local requirements for a sanitation certificate that delays and causes difficulty. We recommend avoiding sending any type of food, wine or body products (e.g. hand creams and soaps) to these countries if you can.
We find sending alcohol and food to the UK and Japan the easiest with very few restrictions.
Sending food to France, Germany and China is generally fine; however although we technically CAN send alcohol to these countries, the cost of taxes and duties is prohibitive so we do not do so.
You are not allowed to send wine to the USA or Canada due to their strict customers rules; however non-perishable foods are mostly fine.
It’s best you talk to the local courier about these requirements, and check on the Australia Post International Guide as they are very clear about what needs to be marked on your parcel to make it clear that it’s a gift.
You may avoid paying duties and taxes if it’s under (quite low) limits some countries set and does not contain alcohol, and you clearly mark your package ‘Gift – personal use only’.
Other countries will charge you regardless so it’s best to check.