Shipments that are declared improperly can be the source of a lot of confusion for you, our staff and our partners like U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That is why it is highly important that the descriptions and values of your shipments be declared accurately.  

We take this seriously as this information will be provided to either U.S. Customs upon crossing the border or to international customs bodies, depending on the destination of your shipment. If the information is incorrect or vague this can cause delays with all shipments on our truck including yours, and can result in fines and penalties. This is outlined in both our Shipment Compliance Declaration and our Terms of Service.

Improperly declaring your shipment is not only a concern for customs declarations. This is also an issue for insurance claims as the value declared for the shipment is what is used for insurance coverage. If an inaccurate value is provided, you may be reimbursed for the wrong amount or your claim may be denied as you have not purchased enough insurance for your shipment.

Don’t forget that when filing your claim you will need to provide an invoice or other documentation to prove the value of your shipment. You should also be aware that there are some restrictions on the types of items that are insurable.

How to declare your shipments

If you are creating your shipments manually, you will be asked to indicate the type of contents you are shipping as well as describe the contents and retail value of your shipment on the ‘Description’ step. All shipment descriptions must be in English, providing a second language is optional. English is the designated language for our international shipping partners which also includes any U.S. bound shipments. 

For some international destinations like EU countries, you may be required to provide a customs tax reference number for your shipment.

If you import your shipments using the Chit Chats CSV you can describe the contents of your shipment by completing the following fields: package_contents, description and value.

If you use one of our store integrations, the descriptions and values for your shipment will be pulled straight from your store. This can sometimes be the cause of vague or incomplete shipment declarations. For instance, you may sell t-shirts but in your store these are titled as “1 XL, women’s”. Or if your store is having a sale, your items may be listed at a promotional price, for example $0.00, which does not accurately reflect the retail value.

Don’t forget to review these fields before completing your import to ensure they are all described accurately. You can take advantage of our helpful bulk editing and presets features to update this information upon importing.

Guidelines for shipment descriptions

Type of contents

These are customs classifications of your items. This information may be used for the international customs declaration forms for your shipments (e.g. CN22). The options for your shipments are:

  • Merchandise
  • Documents
  • Gift
  • Returned Goods
  • Sample

Description of contents

Descriptions such as “craft item,” “products,” or “accessories” are considered too vague by U.S. Customs. This can result in Customs opening up the package and delaying your shipments at the border. That’s why your shipment description must account for all items contained in the package and include:

  • Quantities
  • Information about brands (where possible)
  • Whether or not the item was used
  • At least three (3) characters in length e.g. "1 CD"

For example, instead of declaring “clothes and accessories,” a shipment should instead be declared as “1 dress, 1 belt, 3 hair ties.” Or, instead of “Makeup” a shipment should instead be declared as 2 lipsticks, 1 mascara.” 

To list each item on a separate line you can make use of the semicolon as an operator when entering your description. The description "1 t shirt; 1 pair of jeans; 1 wool hat" would then become:

Don’t forget that there are some items you cannot ship with Chit Chats and these items must not be included in your shipments. It is your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your shipment information and to be compliant with all customs laws. Omitting items from descriptions or using vague descriptions to conceal prohibited items may result in delays, fines or the termination of your Chit Chats account. For more details on your responsibility, please see our Shipment Compliance Declaration and our Terms of Service.

Guidelines for shipment values

You must always declare the retail value for your shipment and with the exception of documents, all items have a retail value. We are unable to accommodate shipments containing items that have not yet been sold or that are sent for the purpose of valuation such as the grading of sports cards or other collectibles.

The amount you declare for your shipment should exclude applicable sales taxes and shipping costs; however, you may include sales taxes when filing an insurance claim

Be mindful of the currency you are declaring your value in as this is important for both customs and insurance purposes. The insurable value of your shipment is calculated at the time of postage purchase and is reported to the insurer in USD. Additionally, your shipment value may be converted to the destination's currency at the country's daily exchange rate for customs purposes. But remember, U.S. and international shipments cannot exceed $800 USD in retail value and some shipments may require an invoice. Shipments to Canadian addresses cannot exceed $2500 CAD.