Is It Worth Shipping Souvenirs Home While Travelling?

18 January 2016
Should you leave space in the top of your suitcase for souvenirs, or should you plan to post your shopping home from overseas? How much will postage cost?

You’re standing in front of a half-packed suitcase, wondering whether you’ll leave some space for presents for family, or just post them home to yourself while you’re over there. Both options cost money, and we’re here to tell you which is the cheaper option, depending on where you’re travelling.

It’s important to check a few items with the local postage service before you send things home from overseas:

  • Weight limits for a parcel
  • Prohibited items that you cannot send out of the local country or cannot receive into Australia
  • Customs forms you need to attach

We calculated the postage rates below based on a parcel that is worth less than $200 AUD and weighs 2kg or less, to comply with the strictest limits for international parcels. A 2kg parcel may seem small, but the prices listed mean that if you don’t have too many souvenirs, it might just be worth the sweat and tears to squash everything into your suitcase.

Disclaimer: Prices listed are only current at the time of writing, and were converted to AUD using exchange rates sourced from Google Finance data. These prices cannot be relied upon when trying to send goods from overseas destinations to Australia.

New Zealand – New Zealand Post

Cost: The New Zealand Post international rates for posting a parcel from NZ to Oz will cost:

  • International Air: $24.87 NZD (approx. $23.36 AUD)
  • International Courier: $38.27 NZD (approx. $35.94 AUD)
  • International Express Courier: $63.43 NZD (approx. $59.57 AUD)

Delivery time: NZ Post aims to deliver International Air parcels in about 3-10 working days, Courier parcels take about 2-6 working days, and Express Courier parcels in 1-5 working days.

Weight limits: 20kg for International Air parcels; 30kg for International Courier parcels.

Customs: The post office can provide you with the correct customs declaration forms or consignment note.

Prohibited: NZ Post prohibits sending a significant list of items, so you should check the list for your intended parcel. The list includes jewellery, perfume, aerosol cans, first aid kits, nail polish, unused stamps, and essential oils such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil.

United Kingdom – Royal Mail

Cost: Royal Mail reports that posting a parcel from the UK to Australia will cost:

  • Parcelforce Worldwide, Global Value, Not Tracked: £52.65 GBP (approx. $109.50 AUD)
  • Parcelforce Worldwide, Global Priority, Tracked: £64.70 GBP (approx. $134.56 AUD)
  • Parcelforce Worldwide, Global Express, Tracked: £82.55 GBP (approx. $171.68 AUD)

Delivery time: Royal Mail aims to deliver international parcels in about 5-7 business days.

Weight limits: 5kg of books and pamphlets sent internationally, or 2kg of weight for other international parcels.

Customs: You may also have to pay customs duties on your parcel and use the correct customs form, which you can obtain from the Post Office or on their website.

Prohibited: Many items are prohibited to be sent from the UK to Australia, including vegetables, plants and flowers, paint, soap, aerosol cans, leather, ceramics, jewellery, and camera equipment. (Oh, and no radioactive material or weapons either, please. Ta.)

You can read the Royal Mail’s other top tips for sending international mail out of the UK on their website.

United States of America – USPS

Cost: The USPS international rates show posting a parcel from the USA to Australia will cost:

  • Priority Mail Express International, Flat Rate Boxes, varying sizes: $90.95 USD (approx. $130.09 AUD)

Delivery time: USPS aims to deliver international parcels in about 3-5 business days.

Weight limits: 20 pounds for all international Flat Rate Boxes.

Customs: You can obtain the correct customs forms from the Post Office or on their website.

Prohibited: There are a few prohibited items for USPS shipping, including cigars, medical devices, lithium batteries, and medicines.

Japan – Japan Post

Cost: Japan Post has an English version for their website (Japan Post, arigatou gozaimasu!), which shows posting a parcel from Tokyo Prefecture, Nihon to NSW, Australia will cost:

  • Surface Mail (sea shipping), international parcel: 2,350¥ JPY (approx. $39.57 AUD)
  • Economy Airmail, international parcel: 3,850¥ JPY (approx. $46.87 AUD)
  • Express Mail Service, Trackable: 4,000¥ JPY (approx. $48.70 AUD)
  • Airmail, international parcel: 5,050¥ JPY (approx. $61.49 AUD)

Delivery time: Japan Post’s expected delivery times vary depending on your choice of shipping method, from 3 days for Express Mail Service to 7 days for Airmail, about 2 weeks for Economy Airmail, and about 2 months for Surface Mail.

Customs: You can obtain the correct customs forms from the post office, or download them from their website.

Prohibited: Japan Post prohibits dangerous items from being sent, including lithium batteries, flammable liquids or materials, and illegal items.

France – La Poste

Cost: La Poste tells us – via the amazing Google Translate – posting a parcel from France to Australia will cost:

  • International Colissimo, Fast Shipping: €36.10 (approx. $56.19 AUD)

Delivery time: La Poste aims to deliver international parcels in about 3-8 business days.

Weight limit: 20kg for deliveries outside the European Union and Switzerland.

Customs: You will need to obtain from the post office a CN23 customs form, an invoice declaration of origin (DOF) or EUR1 to claim an exemption from customs duties on arrival, and an SAD (Single Administrative Document) if you’re posting items worth more than € 8,000.

Prohibited: There are a few items prohibited for La Poste shipping, including lithium batteries. You should check your intended parcel with your local Bureau de Poste before trying to send it.

Thailand – Thailand Post

Cost: Thailand Post lists 23 different methods for shipping to Australia at the time of writing – via Google Translate – but here are the basic options for posting a parcel:

  • Airmail: 1,410? THB (Thai Baht) (approx. $55.53 AUD)
  • EMS World Package: 2,990? THB (Thai Baht) (approx. $117.76 AUD)
  • EMS World Mao Box 3: 4,800? THB (Thai Baht) (approx. $189.05 AUD)

Bali – Pos Indonesia

Cost: Pos Indonesia quoted the following rates to post a parcel from Denpasar, Bali to Australia:

  • EMS Goods: 485,608Rp IDR Indonesian Rupiah (approx. $50.16 AUD)

Prohibited: Pos Indonesia prohibits items such as politically sensitive publications and pictures, drugs, and weapons. They also place restrictions on items including food, electrical appliances, medicines, cosmetics and toiletries.

Fiji – Post Fiji

Cost: Post Fiji shows posting a parcel to Australia will cost:

  • Surface Mail: $16.10 FJD (approx. $10.63 AUD)
  • Air Mail: $36 FJD (approx. $23.77 AUD)

Weight limits: 20kg for international parcels.

Prohibited: Post Fiji prohibits dangerous goods, narcotics, flammable, liquids, biological or radioactive substances, and obscene or immoral articles.

Brazil – Correios, The Brazil Post

Cost: Correios, a.k.a. The Brazil Post, shows posting a parcel from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to Sydney, Australia will cost:

  • Mercadoria Econômica (Economy): R$ 134 BRL (Brazilian Real) (approx. $47.36 AUD) (max 20kg)
  • Leve Internacional (International Shipping): R$ 141 BRL (Brazilian Real) (approx. $49.84 AUD) (max 2kg)
  • EMS: R$ 286 BRL (Brazilian Real) (approx. $101.09 AUD) (max 20kg)

Delivery time: 21-24 days for Economy; 13-17 days for Leve Internacional; 9-12 days for EMS.

Weight limits: 20kg for Economy and EMS; 2kg for Leve Internacional.

Prohibited: The Brazil Post prohibits the usual suspects such as vegetables, paint, advertising materials, and glazed pottery, and they also prohibit products that contain the word “ANZAC”.

South Africa – South African Post Office

Cost: The South African Post Office delivers via EMS South Africa, and posting a parcel will cost:

  • EMS International Mail: 585 R ZAR South African Rand (approx. $49.66 AUD)

Delivery time: The South African Post Office aims to deliver to the world in 4-5 business days when posted from the Office of Exchange (Johannesburg International Mail Centre).

Prohibited: Prohibited items include jewellery, perishables, liquids, and fragile items.

Australia – Australia Post

What if you are a visitor to Australia, and you want to post something home?

Cost, deliver time, and weight limits: AusPost’s International Post Guide can tell you how much it will cost to post something to your overseas home. Simply enter your home country and you’re on your way.

For example, prices to New Zealand are as follows:

  • Economy Air (Air Mail): $34.04 AUD (approx. $35.87 NZD) (max 2kg, arrives 7 business days)
  • Standard (International): $41.04 AUD (approx. $43.25 NZD) (max 2kg, arrives 5 business days)
  • Express Post (International): $50.04 AUD (approx. $52.74 NZD) (max 20kg, arrives 3 business days)
  • Courier (International): $100.04 AUD (approx. $105.43 NZD) (max 20kg, arrives 2 business days)

Customs: You may also have to pay customs duties on your parcel and use the correct customs form, which you can obtain from the Post Office or on their website.

Prohibited: Many items are prohibited and cannot be sent from Australia, including dangerous goods and lithium batteries. Check the full list on the AusPost website here.

What does it cost to have overweight check-in luggage?

If you’ve looked at the above figures and they seem steep to you, your other option is to put your souvenirs in your check-in luggage and pay extra if that makes it over the 23-30kg limit. Or you can buy another bag and pay to check in two pieces of luggage.

How much do these two options cost?

Qantas gives you 30kg of check-in luggage, and pre-purchased additional baggage charges range from $70 per extra 5kg when coming from New Zealand, to $280 per extra 5kg when coming from South Africa. Airport Excess Baggage Charges will apply at the airport if your check-in baggage exceeds your baggage allowance and pre-purchased additional allowance.

Virgin Australia gives you 23kg of check-in luggage, and pre-purchased additional baggage ranges from $55 for one additional bag when coming from New Zealand, to $70 per extra 1kg when coming from Africa.

All of this to say that your choice to pack or post will largely depend on how much weight you’ve already got in your backpack or suitcase, and how much your souvenirs would add to that.

What you cannot bring back

Most of the countries we listed had similar prohibited items, which is because Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has a list of what you can’t bring into Australia:

  • Contamination: Soil, dirt, plant fertiliser
  • Firearms: Includes imitation/toy firearms, paintball firearms, and soft air firearms
  • Food and drink: Meat, vegetables, fruit
  • Devices designed to deliver electric shock
  • Fake designer goods and pirated DVDs
  • Fireworks
  • Pornography
  • Terrorism-praising publications, movies, or games
  • Steroid substances
  • Weapons: Knives, concealed blades, batons, knuckle dusters, nunchakus, throwing blades, and pepper spray




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