What you need to know about customs forms

The current compliant customs form is PS 2976-R and is a requirement for packages that weigh more than 16 ounces and contain goods. Packages under 16 ounces can only be documents.

Foreign customs authorities use the customs information as mail enters a country to disclose package contents and ensure items that aren't allowed in a country are not being sent to it. They can also be used to assess duty and tax fees. Fun fact - USPS does not own the customs process. Customs and Border Protection, part of Homeland Security, handles it. USPS just follows the rules and complies with the information required by these organizations.

The customs form is intended to provide a complete and accurate description of the items in your package, including the quantity and unit price for each item. Examples of a detailed descriptions would be men's cotton shirts, Nike tennis shoes, sunflower seeds, etc. General descriptions like samples, food products, snacks, or toiletries are not acceptable, as noted on the worksheet. If you have more than five items listed, an additional customs label will be produced which lists the other items. All labels will need to be put on the boxes. 

There are two ways to complete customs forms; online or with the hard copy PS 2976-R worksheet that you handwrite your details on and give to your local post office clerk. If you do your labels at the post office, the clerk will type your information into the postal system tools, producing a customs declaration. When you complete your form online, you must type a detailed description of the items in your package in the customs details. It is a must to ensure you are not sending any restricted items for the country you are shipping to or items that cannot be sent through the mail. If you send prohibited or restricted items, your package could be returned to you. Returned packages are nonrefundable, so you are also out of the money. To find military-restricted items, use the link at the bottom of the ShipThrifty website footer, type the zip code of your location into the box, and click submit to learn the specific restrictions for that zip code.

Customs details are also a requirement for someone sending a package from an APO, FPO, DPO, or MPO since March 13, 2020.

If you have questions about customs, it is best to contact us via phone at 800-544-4992. Also, if you're a nonprofit reading this that sends a lot of packages, reach out because we can provide some additional tips.

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