Customs & Regulations
For most gourmet food items within the continental United States, shipping is often done through the U.S. postal service or ground couriers and is most often hassle-free. Check each company's website FAQ to see how they answer customer concerns.
However, there are several areas of critical concern relating to the customs regulations for shipping gourmet food. These are:
- shipping to points outside the U.S.
- importing food or beverages into the U.S.
- sending alcohol between states
Delivery Outside the Continental USA
Many companies simply do not ship to points outside of the U.S., because they cannot guarantee the safe and timely arrival of packages. Some companies still ship but offer no guarantees.
Cross-border shipping is further complicated by international credit card verification, duties and tariffs.
Shipping gourmet food to military installations is usually viable, provided you apply the proper address prefixes.
Importing into the U.S.
A simple rule: it is far more practical to order from a U.S.-based vendor.
In recent years, shipping across the national border has become extremely demanding. For example, in December of 2003, U.S. Customs and Border Protection passed a new law requiring prior written notice of any package crossing the U.S. border.
Shipping outside of the continental U.S. to non-continental states can be additionally problematic and expensive, so you may want to look closely at a company's website to find out details of their service to Alaska, Hawaii & Puerto Rico.
Alcohol and Interstate Laws
If you are sending or purchasing alcohol you need to know your state laws regarding alcohol deliveries. Some states ban the delivery of alcohol and hefty fines can ensue. For further information see our wine, champagne and aperitifs customs and regulations page.
In addition, states including California and Arizona have agricultural restrictions applying to some plant material.