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Advice on shipping from UK to the US

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I’ve recently started selling my work online. I’m based in the UK and have had an enquiry about shipping to the US. I’ve never sent anything outside of Europe before. Does anyone have any advice for how to do this properly? If anyone has experience of this I would be extremely grateful to hear from them.

Kind regards


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My best advice for shipping internationally is to get a tracking number and make sure the customer has it as well. It saves on a few customer service emails, because they can check on their shipment. If anything does get lost, it’s my responsibility as the sender to do any claiming, but I’ve not had any issues doing so. 

Just as a heads up, I have recently had several of my packages get held up in Canada/US Customs for upwards of 10 business days due to Covid backlogs. Once they clear, delivery does seem to proceed quickly afterwards. It might be wise to let your client know to expect some delays. 

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Many thanks for the advice. I’ve looked into Royal Mail and the tracked and signed option. Looks like I’ll have to break the order into two or three boxes as there is a 2kg limit. 

Am I right in thinking that I have to fill in a customs form but that the customer pays any tax for importing at their end?

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Yes that is true -you cold keep the values low for tax reasons-there is a threshold for the fees (look that up) it may be a 100$ or 500$ I do not recall-every country is different. I just sent some dive stuff to Italy as a gift -no tax for receiver .

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First, filling out customs declarations aren’t too complicated. You will need an HS (Harmonizing and Standardization) code, but most postal services will have a lookup page for that. It’s a 4-6 digit code. For pottery, it tends to be very straightforward because we’re the ones who are making it and it’s easy to say where it was produced. You should include a packing slip with HS codes in the box, but don’t send an invoice or receipt with the shipment unless you want to have excess taxes levied and then have to try and claim them back. Send the transaction information to your customer via email. 

Second, I have to state that sending items without proper customs declarations (ie sending something as a gift when it’s not in a business capacity) is illegal and we can’t encourage that here.  Many governments will take a dim view of you doing this. Yes, your customer is responsible for paying any taxes their government levies on them. I know no one likes it, but its their rules.  

Third, my husband is in shipping and logistics. According to him, the fastest ways for customs to flag you are to have unusually low or high declared values, or to be sending a lot of “gifts” to a lot of different addresses in another country, or to suddenly change from sending gifts to having declared values (or vice versa). Keep things as simple as you can, and begin as you mean to continue.  Note that “expensive”  for pottery isn’t all that unusual, and won’t likely raise eyebrows as it’s recognized as a luxury item. It’s when you start getting into thousands of dollars for art pieces that it becomes a concern. 

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