A guide to: Sending food and drink in the post

Sending food and drink in the post

While we all have different tastes, food is something that unifies people. Whatever it is that you like to get your teeth into, a care package or food parcel filled with some of your favourite treats from home is one of the greatest things you could possibly receive in the post. It's also one of the best things you could send to a friend or loved one - but there are a few things you must consider before you do.

If you’re thinking of sending something tasty to someone you know, check below for more hints and tips of sending food in the post.

Check the appropriate prohibited/restricted lists

Think first about what it is you're sending and whether it breaches any postal legislation.

If the recipient is also in the UK, you're free to send most food items, with the exception of wet foods and perishable goods, but drinks - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic- are not allowed to be sent with ipostparcels as we do not carry liquids across our network.

If you're sending items to somebody overseas, it’s likely there are even more restrictions to be aware of, as some items will not be allowed due to agricultural, cultural or religious reasons. Be sure to check the page of the destination country to see what isn’t allowed through customs.

See our UK Prohibited Items and International Prohibited Items information before booking your parcel.

Proper packaging – inside and out

Always keep foods in their original packaging to avoid any confusion; this is especially important for overseas shipping, as your parcel will be making its way through some rather thorough customs checks on it’s journey. Removing manufacturers packaging can make this clearance process more difficult to determine the contents, so keep it wherever possible.

It’s important to protect your items properly, so avoid only wrapping in paper and instead opt for a sturdy and roomy box. Then, once all your items are inside, fill any gaps with newspaper, filling chips or other packaging materials to keep internal movement to a minimum. This should help to ensure your food makes it through its journey intact.

Perishable goods

We at ipostparcels do not ship perishable goods through our network; this is for both within the UK and internationally.

To clarify, ‘perishable goods’ refers to anything that can spoil or go off during transit, so this means fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products are on our list of UK Prohibited Items and International Prohibited Items.  We suggest making sure your items have a shelf life of at least six months from the time of posting to not be classed as perishable.

Store bought food

Sending food items bought from a store or shop in the post has advantages, as its packaging and labelling usually complies with the regulations for both sending in the UK and most international destinations (aside from those foods on restricted and prohibited lists for each specific country).

Here’s a checklist of what you need to make sure of before sending that special someone their favourite snacks:

  • Food should have a shelf life of six months or longer from the date of sending
  • Food should be in the original manufacturers wrapping and packaging
  • Food labels must list all ingredients
  • Packaging on the food must be sealed and not show any signs of being opened or tampered with

How to send food items in the post – do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t send food items that are restricted or prohibited in the UK or for importing into the destination country
  • Do check the UK Prohibited Items and International Prohibited Items lists – as well as the restrictions for importing into the destination country specifically; ipostparcels has helpful information like this on all our international country pages
  • Don’t scrimp on internal packaging or the outer box; markings such as ‘fragile’ and ‘this way up’ can’t be read by sorting machines
  • Do package your items well; your parcel needs to be able to withstand being turned upside down during transit so wrap all items individually and use void fill packaging to prevent movement and to protect them
  • Don’t send items that need to be kept at a certain temperature (frozen, chilled or refrigerated), as there is no control over the temperature and environment during shipping
  • Do expect your parcel to be inspected by customs authorities – and ensure all food items have a label clearly showing all the ingredients and the use by date so they can check it’s ok to clear

Home made food

  • Unfortunately, homemade food tends to be perishable – as they usually don’t contain preservatives – and will be likely to spoil during transit. Perishable foods are not permitted for shipping by ipostparcels, but we have some ideas to get some of those favourite foods to the people you care about:
  • Try sending the recipes for those homemade goodies  – and include any store bought items and utensils that will help your loved ones make them in their own kitchen
  • If you’re not quite up to writing recipes, send a store bought packet of their favourite cake mix instead
  • Send store bought items like chocolates, sweets or crisps that will remind them of home and they’re unable to get overseas.

However…

  • Remember that some countries may not allow certain foods to be imported, so take care to check that the items (and ingredients in the items) are not restricted or prohibited for import where their being sent
  • Don’t ‘chance it’ in the hope that your home made goods can be passed off as store bought; you could be fined

Christmas / food hampers

Food hampers at Christmas, or any time of year that’s special, can be a wonderful gift to receive when you’re missing someone who’s away from home or just wanting to send a nice hamper of delicious treats across the miles.

Just remember that you need to make a few considerations when bundling up those festive goodies; don’t send alcohol, anything flammable or any liquids – they’re prohibited items and can’t be sent by courier. And if sending overseas, check each item’s ingredients and make sure they’re not restricted or prohibited items in the destination country.

How to send Christmas / food hampers in the post:

  1. Firstly, check that everything in the hamper is allowed into the destination country – remember that some countries have very strict regulations for import, so make sure you look into this before sending.  See our UK Prohibited Items and International Prohibited Items information before booking your parcel – and check each individual country restricted and prohibited items list too.
     
  2. Package everything properly and with care; make sure all the items in the hamper are cushioned and snug before wrapping the hamper in protective packaging (such as bubble wrap) to protect it – and then put the hamper in an external box for transit. Don’t gift wrap the hamper; not only will it not be adequate protection, its likely that Customs officials will open it to check the contents.
     
  3. List all the items in the hamper on a customs invoice when sending overseas; it wont be enough to declare ‘Christmas Hamper’ and in fact is more likely to be opened by customs officials as they’ll want to see exactly what’s inside. 


Related content:

Large parcel delivery
How to protect items in transit
Sending fluids and liquids in the post
Packaging parcels for international delivery
International restricted and prohibited items

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