Confused about customs forms

So I like to ship things, sometimes they go outside the USA, according to every website I visit, I hear I need to have a customs from on the package…

Here’s the thing… Not once have I ever got packages from outside the US with a customs form

Supposedly you need a customs for when shipping either a package, anything that is not correspondence(aka a letter), or anything that has cash value. But I have got things that I know have cash value, and is not a letter, and No customs form

If anyone knows why nobody uses customs forms, or what happens if I don’t use one, I would love to know as well.

This might offer some insight?

Sending gifts with cards abroad

I haven’t sent anything other than stationery items (stickers, washi, etc…no food items or anything that’s not flat-ish) and I’ve never had trouble without customs forms. From things I’ve read, depending on what is sent and where it is sent, lack of customs forms can cause problems for the recipient (sometimes they are charged money in order to be able to pick up the envelope/package from their post office).

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There is no consistent guidance on this. One time, I brought a package of 20 First Day Covers to mail to Cyprus. One clerk who always help me said I need a customs form. So off I go to the counter to complete. When I returned, the clerk who had me complete the form was helping another customer. So I brought the form and my package to the clerk who was next to him. She looked at the form and asked what was in the package? I replied “envelopes.” She said I didn’t need a form for that. The two clerks had an exchange of comments. The end result was that I didn’t need a customs form. My trader partner in Cyprus got the FDCs in good shape.

Recently, the same trader sent me 40 Cyprus postcards. No customs form on the package; just the words “Printed Matter.” The sum of this appears that some clerks automatically think “customs form” when they see a package, when really the contents of the package are the determining factor whether the form is needed…or not.


Mailing from Singapore, every package requires a custom form.

Prior to Jan 1 2021, I did send packages without declarations.

Our form is a relatively simple sticker kind.

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Our mail says this:
“If the electronic advance information is incomplete, the item may be sent back to the sender from the country of destination without an attempt to deliver it to the recipient. The sender is always responsible for submitting the information. Please note that we are unable to submit the information on the customer’s behalf.”

Or it can be stopped at the receiver’s customs, and the receiver should clear it. (And pay.) This can be hard if the receiver is not sure what is inside and/or who is the sender.

(We need to fill a net based form and attach a paper version to the letter/item.)

I use customs forms when sending outside of EU. (Edit. when it’s more than letter or card)


You’re meant to use them in the UK when sending packets or parcels, but if the lady who works at my post office doesn’t ask me to fill one in, I don’t!

No declaration means no value given, which means no import duty to my friends receiving things abroad, in my experience.


Since 2021 in Italy we are obliged to declare every “goods” we send outside EU (also inside, but with simpler declaration), even if of small value.
Anyway there’s the unwritten rule that envelopes within 20g are generally not controlled.

To make the customs declaration there’s the CN23 paper form, an “extended version” of the old green CN22 module:

And you can do only at post office, where the data is manually entered into computer and then a special barcode label is printed and put on the envelope.
Actually the paper form never travels with envelopes, only with packets.

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I buy cds from the UK and they always have a customs form on the package

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This may help.
It’s really very simple.

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Forgot to say that, when receiving mail with a customs declaration from abroad, Poste Italiane always wants a fee for the customs clearance.
Even if the goods entering in Italy are of low value (it happened to me receiving some chocolate bars in an envelope). :angry:
Even if the value is below the threshold for taxes (22€). :rage:
This had been a bad news because to receive a gift (example: some sweets for Christmas) we have to pay… absurd!