How to Ship Gold Internationally in Six Steps

Concept art of an article about How to Ship Gold Internationally: rich wooden living room with a golden world globe on a round wooden antique table (AI Art)

It’s perfectly legal to move gold and other precious metals in or out of the United States in any quantity.

In our consulting practice, clients regularly contact us about wanting to move gold purchased in the US to another country. As a result, we’ve built up a lot of experience in this area.

And in this article, we talk about the dos and don’ts of shipping gold internationally.

How to Ship Gold and Precious Metals Safely

Step #1) Choose a Reliable Shipping Company

Precious metals, especially gold, are a highly concentrated form of wealth. Theft is a constant threat.

For this reason, we generally suggest that clients use an armored shipping service.

  • For larger quantities, we recommend armored shipping services such as Brinks, Loomis or Malca-Amit.
  • For smaller quantities, options like FedEx or UPS can be considered.

Armored Shipping Service Costs

For gold, depending on the distance the coins or bars are shipped, you can expect to pay 1% or more of their value for this service.

Fees for silver bullion are typically 2% or more of its value.

Step #2) Use Secure and Discreet Packaging

When packaging gold for shipping, common materials include sturdy boxes, bubble wrap for individual items, strong tape for secure sealing, and tamper-evident cases or bags to prevent unauthorized access.

To protect the gold during shipping, consider using corrugated cardboard, foam blocks, or newspaper for cushioning and filling any empty spaces in the package.

Remember not to label the package with terms like “gold” or “precious metals” on the outside. This keeps things discreet and reduces the risk of theft during transit.

When shipping gold internationally with an armored shipping service, they typically offer packaging services, which include secure packaging and discreet labeling.

Step #3) Choose Appropriate Insurance

When shipping gold internationally, it is crucial to insure your shipment based on its value. This is to cover any potential loss or damage during transportation.

Most couriers cap insurance at $1,000. But, you can buy extra insurance to cover the full value of your gold shipment.

Just be sure to carefully review insurance policies. You might even consider third-party insurance plans to make sure you have comprehensive coverage.

When shipping gold internationally with an armored shipping service, they typically offer insurance coverage matching the value of the items.

Step #4) Use Tracking and Signature Confirmation

It is crucial to have a way to track your gold package during shipment. Most couriers provide tracking numbers for this purpose. Also make sure to require a signature upon delivery.

When shipping gold internationally with an armored shipping service, they typically offer tracking and signature confirmation to ensure the safe transportation of precious metals like gold.

Step #5) Follow US Reporting Regulations

If the value of the metals you’re exporting in a single shipment is over $2,500, you must follow many complex reporting rules. The Census Bureau and the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) enforce these regulations.

If you do not comply, the government may confiscate your metals.

Here’s how the process works:

  • You must complete a set of documents called a “Shipper’s Export Declaration” (SED). It was once possible to file a paper SED. Now, you must make an electronic filing through the Automated Export System (AES).
  • The AES processes and accepts your Electronic Export Information (EEI) for your shipment or shipments. Then, it generates an Internal Transaction Number (ITN). You must post this number as proof of filing on your “loading documents” before exporting them. When you leave the United States, a CBP official may verify the ITN.

The AES is set up for large exporters with entire teams dedicated to the task of AES compliance. It isn’t a do-it-yourself endeavor.

Fortunately, if you hire an armored shipping company to move your metals overseas, they’ll usually get the ITN for you. But be sure to ask. Otherwise, the only practical way to ensure compliance is to hire an expert who can assist with the process.

Step #6) Comply with Destination Country’s Custom Regulations

This tax concern comes not from the United States, but from the country you’re transporting the metals to.

Most countries don’t restrict imports of precious metals. In many cases, they impose an import duty equal to the value-added tax (VAT) or goods and services tax (GST) that would have applied, had the metals been purchased in that country.

In most cases, coins, or bars of a specified purity are exempt from import duties.

  • In Canada, imports of gold bars or coins with a purity of 0.995 or finer are exempt from duties.
  • In the EU, bars with a purity of 0.995 or finer and coins with a purity of 0.900 or finer are exempt.
  • Imports of less pure gold and all forms of silver to EU countries may be subject to VAT at rates that can exceed 20%.

Once again, the solution is to hire an armored shipping company. They know how to deal with the complex rules for importing precious metals into other countries.

Case Study: How to Successfully Ship Gold Internationally

Mike Moves His Precious Metals to New Zealand

A client we’ll call Mike wanted to move over 100 ounces of gold bars and coins from Austria to New Zealand in 2019.

Most of the details were handled by the facility in New Zealand where he stores the gold; the New Zealand Vault.

Mike first completed a form from the armored transport service. The New Zealand Vault recommended the service. The form had a detailed listing of the bullion he wanted to move.

He then gave the bank where the gold was stored in Austria written instructions to release it when presented with this authorization. A slight mix-up at the bank delayed the shipment. But the confusion was resolved, and the metals were picked up the next day.

Two days later, the metals arrived at the New Zealand Vault.

An official from a local accounting firm then inspected the shipment to confirm it had arrived intact. Fortunately, it had. The official and a vault employee then placed the items into Mike’s safe deposit box and sent him the confirmation.

Mike chose to have the accounting firm retain the key to the box in their possession rather than send it to him.

The fee for this entire process came to about 1.2% of the value of the metals.

Case Study: What Not To Do

George Moves His Precious Metals to Panama

Several years ago, a client sent us an article from a Mexican newspaper. The article said that Mexican federal police seized over 150 ounces of gold coins. They took them from a traveler we’ll call George in the Mexico City International Airport. The coins were one-ounce US Gold Eagles and South African Krugerrands.

George was on his way to Panama when police detained him. Mexican law requires a customs declaration of cash or cash equivalents entering or leaving Mexico with a value exceeding $10,000. George failed to make this declaration. Police also said he was “evidently nervous” when they approached him.

After being detained, George was taken to a Mexican prison, where he spent the next three weeks. The authorities eventually dropped the criminal case against him. But he still faced a long legal battle to reclaim his coins.

A Mexican attorney finally got the seizure order reversed on appeal. The traveler got back all of his coins, minus his legal and travel fees. Those fees totaled tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the court decision, no obligation exists under Mexican law to declare bullion coins brought into the country, because they are not the same as cash or other monetary instruments. Customs authorities had seized the coins in error and compounded the mistake by throwing George in jail.

Of course, it’s not just Mexican customs officials who don’t understand the legal nuances of moving precious metals across borders.

We’ve had first-hand experience with customs officials in the US and Canada who don’t understand the rules either.

Stories like this are a big reason we recommend that our clients avoid doing it themselves. Better to use and armored transport service.

Instead of Shipping Your Gold Internationally, You Can Also Do This…

Instead of shipping your physical metals to another country, you can sell them. Then, you can repurchase the same quantity in the country where you want to store them.

For tax reasons, this works best if you’re selling the metals for little or no profit. This way, the capital gains tax burden is minimal.

For example, Bullion Vault is a non-US online service. You can use it to buy and store your physical precious metals. They sell gold and silver bullion for 0.5% above the spot price. When you sell to them, they buy it at 0.5% below the spot price. So, the total transaction fee is 1%. This is about the same as you’d pay if you hire an armored transport service to move gold bullion internationally. It’s considerably less than for silver.

Can you sell gold anonymously?

Many of our clients are concerned about privacy. And quite a few own private assets like gold. So this question comes up from time to time. To learn more, please see: Can you Sell Gold Anonymously?

Can you sell gold without paying taxes?

To learn more about how gold sales are taxed, and the one case where you can book a profit without a tax bill, please see: How to Sell Gold Without Paying Taxes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I transport the gold myself?

We warn clients not to move gold across borders themselves. There are no guarantees.

But if you insist, for large quantities, it’s best if you appoint an import agent to handle everything for you.

You will post a bond through the agent. It is payable to the customs agency in the country you are bringing the metals into. The bond covers whatever taxes are due (if any) plus the agent’s fee.

You bring in the metals. You show the paperwork to the customs inspector. Then, you take the metals where you want to store them.

What are the risks of transporting gold myself?

Transporting gold internationally yourself carries various risks, including potential legal issues and security concerns.

Here are some key risks to consider:

  • Legal Compliance: Failing to follow customs rules and declaration requirements can lead to delays, fines, or confiscation.
  • Security Checks: The TSA may inspect your baggage. This can cause delays, missed flights, and concerns about the safety of your precious metal. You need to declare your gold upfront to avoid suspicion.
  • Theft or Loss: Keeping gold in checked baggage poses a risk of loss or theft. Storing gold in a secure carry-on bag close to you is recommended to reduce these risks.
  • Taxation and Duties: Different countries have varying tax regulations on importing gold. Not following tax rules can lead to extra costs and legal issues.
  • Documentation: Proper documentation is essential when transporting gold internationally. It should include proof of ownership, appraisals, and valuations. They show the gold is legitimate and valuable.

To reduce these risks, hire professionals. This could be import agents or trusted transport services that specialize in shipping valuable items. They can ensure compliance with regulations, provide security, and reduce potential issues during the transportation process.

What are the safest countries to bring in gold?

Switzerland is one of the safest countries in which to import gold. Most gold forms have no import tax. Corruption is near-zero. You can also bring in gold that isn’t pure enough to qualify for the Swiss VAT exemption without paying this tax if you store it in one of the numerous secure storage facilities in the Free Trade Zone at the Zurich airport.

What is the best way to ship gold internationally?

Here are the steps in a nutshell:

  1. Hire a reliable shipping company. We recommend using an armored shipping service such as Brinks, Loomis or Malca-Amit.
  2. Use secure and discreet packaging. Remember not to label the package with terms like “gold” or “precious metals” on the outside.
  3. Choose appropriate insurance. Make sure to insure your shipment based on it’s full value.
  4. Use tracking and signature confirmation.
  5. Follow US reporting regulations. If you do not comply, authorities may confiscate your metals.
  6. Comply with destination country’s custom regulations. The tax concern is not in the United States, but in the country to which you’re transporting the metals. Most countries impose an import duty. It equals the VAT or GST that would apply if the metals were bought in that country. country.

What is the maximum amount of gold you can important to another country without needing to make a declaration?

We would declare the gold no matter how much you are bringing in. This is especially true if it is worth over $10,000 or the equivalent in foreign currency.

We do know of situations in which someone transported precious metals across a US border without complying all the rules and regulations and didn’t get caught. But an unannounced crackdown could occur anytime.

Is it true that metal detectors used at airports do not detect gold bullion coins?

No, this is not true. Airport metal detectors will generally detect gold bullion coins or any other form of gold without difficulty.

How to best store gold and precious metals offshore?

Once you’ve made the decision to ship your precious metals overseas, how do you best store them. You can find more information here: How to Store Precious Metals.

Do You Need a Wealth Protection Plan that Includes Gold?

Since 1984, we’ve helped more than 15,000 customers and clients protect their wealth. For its proven record as a wealth preservation, gold has often been a part of that planning.

If you’re interested in using gold for the same purpose, and aren’t quite sure where to start, please book a free, no-obligation call with one of our Associates to see if a wealth protection planis right for you.

On another note, many clients first get to know us by accessing some of our free publications, courses and reports on important topics that affect you.

Like How to Go Offshore in 2024, for example. It tells the story of John and Kathy, a couple we helped from the heartland of America. You’ll learn how we helped them go offshore and protect their nestegg from ambulance chasers, government fiat and the decline of the US Dollar… and access a whole new world of opportunities not available in the US. Simply click the button below to register for this free program.

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