Many businesses shy away from utilizing a postal option when sending international mail and parcels. Fear of potential duties and taxes or uncertainty about mail and parcels being held or returned cause the most anxiety. Complicating this problem is the fact that few, if any, international mail entities have the ability to collect duties and taxes from the initial sender or recipient. This wrinkle could result in an unpleasant after-the-fact bill from a destination country's customs authority to a recipient many months after a shipment has been delivered.

This possibility poses a particular problem for e-commerce and catalogue retailers who have to balance the use of a mail service to keep international shipping cost low with the desire to offer end customers a secure and efficient experience free of post facto billing.

With this in mind, the best solution is focusing on countries with a high de minimis value.

What Is a De Minimis Value?
For US export purposes (and inbound country import), a de minimis value is a threshold amount at which mailers can import an item into a country without having to pay a duty or tax. Although there are exceptions to this rule on certain items - textiles are generally problematic for import regardless of value - countries with a high de minimis value are excellent candidates to consider when sending parcels or mail internationally.

The Land Down Under
Australia is the best example of a country where the de minimis values are high; it's an excellent "test market" for mailers who wish to start sending mail and parcels internationally. Currently, the Australian de minimis value is 1,000 AUD (Australian Dollars), approximately $829 at the time of this writing. The value of typical US export mail or parcel shipments fall far less than this amount, which makes Australia a great market.

Other markets with a high de minimis value include:
· New Zealand: 400 NZD (New Zealand Dollars), approximately $330
· Honduras: $500
· Ecuador: $400
· Singapore: 400 SGD (Singapore Dollars), approximately $300
· Dominican Republic, Peru, Panama and Uruguay: $200

Beware of Regulations on Imports
The fact that these markets have high de minimis values does not automatically mean it is easy to send mail or parcels from the US. It is important to know the types of shipments that have restrictions on importation. Restrictions may include the amount an individual can import into a country in a year or an outright ban on the item being mailed.

In general, these categories tend to fall outside the de minimis and may be difficult, if not illegal, to send using an international mail service:
· Jewelry
· Textiles, especially in countries known for exporting them (i.e. wool in Australian and New Zealand)
· Alcohol
· Tobacco
· Lottery tickets or gambling-related items
· Medication and pharmaceuticals
· High-value electronics
· Used or refurbished items
· Literature and printed material featuring political points of view

International Mail Information Resources
Consult with a licensed customhouse broker and utilize the commodity look-up feature on to understand the regulations and restrictions that may affect international mail. With a little bit of research, mailers can expand their businesses to reach potentially lucrative markets around the globe.

Krish Iyer is Director, Product Marketing, Shipping & Logistics Solutions for Neopost USA. Neopost USA provides mailing, business communication management and shipping solutions. For generations, the company has worked with its customers to prepare, deliver and manage their customer communications in the most secure, efficient and professional manner possible. As businesses increasingly move to digital communications, Neopost USA continues to help its customers communicate - whether in traditional mail, digital communications or packages. For more information about Neopost USA, visit