International Customs Question


Aug 13, 2009
I have someone interested in buying an item from me. It would be shipped to France from the US. They asked me to check "gift" on the form at the post office and I was just wondering why and if I should or shouldn't. In the past I've had buyers ask me to disclose a smaller amount than the price but never this. Can someone explain why it matters and whether I should or shouldn't do this?


Jun 5, 2010
They are trying to get out of paying customs. The amount they will allow tax and duty free for gifts is higher than if it was merchandise. For something being mailed to Canada for example, if you mark something as a gift it's tax and duty free up to $60. If it's marked as merchandise it's tax and duty free up to $20. So anything over those amounts you get charged with customs.
I wouldn't mark it as a gift if it was paid for merchandise.


Jan 30, 2008
It is illegal to lie on a federal form, which is what a custom's form is.

It almost never happens, but you don't want to be the one who gets caught. The penaly is $10,000 and/or prison time. Is it worth it? I used to tell people who would ask me to lie that it is a crime and wouldn't do it. If they didn't want to buy after that it was fine with me.


Coach, Dooney, Uggs
Feb 25, 2007
East Coast, USA
If you don't want to seem like the bad guy, let the buyer know that ebay policy specifically mentions the illegality of lying on customs forms. It's considered to be encouraging illegal activity and you can report it.

Buyers aren't allowed to ask sellers to falsify customs declarations or mark an item as a "gift" in order to avoid customs fees. Customs fraud is prohibited as part of our policy against encouraging illegal activity.

If a buyer asks you to commit customs fraud:

As indicated by the policy, it's illegal both for the seller to lie and for the buyer to request that the seller lie.



Aug 13, 2009
Thanks guys. I told her I wouldn't do it. I was uncomfortable about it to begin with and just not something worth lying over.


luxe style
Jun 15, 2010
dreaming in Paris
Definitely, if anything happens then the blame falls on your shoulders, as well as a big fine! I think it's good to disclose this in your auction as many sellers do. They clearly state that they will not mark items as gifts or falsify the $$$ value of goods. As well as that some buyers will complain if they need to pay customs duties and try to see if the seller will cover this. Um, no! It's the buyers responsibility. Agree with whT everyone has said. I've purchased items in the past where I've had to pay customs, you just have to be prepared for it if you are buying items that are a bit higher in price


What, me worry?
Dec 30, 2007
The Cool Cool North
Well over half the items I buy on ebay have the "gift" box ticked. I never ask mainly because it makes little difference on my purchases - sellers just do it. I expect most customs offices don't give it a lot of attention - they have much bigger things to worry about. I'm not suggesting you falsify a customs form but the "gift" thing doesn't seem to raise many red flags in customs.

Sellers should be aware though that, unlike most countries, ticking the "gift" box for international shipments to the US actually lowers the threshold before customs apply.


vintage bag lady
Mar 29, 2008
Sellers should be aware though that, unlike most countries, ticking the "gift" box for international shipments to the US actually lowers the threshold before customs apply.
Yup. In USA only Gift is up to $100 import free
Merchandise is up to $200 import free. Go figure!