How to ship mooncakes Overseas

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Synonymous with the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes are a traditional must-have delicacy during this festive period. As the name suggests, Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest and for families to reunite. The festival is celebrated across several Asian territories, such as China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

Mooncakes are not just a tasty savoury treat; they also make perfect gifts for loved ones. For those with families overseas, sending over a box of tasty pastries to your loved ones can be a heartwarming gesture bound to delight them. However, it’s important to consider the specific requirements, customs regulations, and restrictions of your shipping destination to ensure your mooncakes successfully reach your relatives.

If you’re an SME based in Singapore selling mooncakes and wish to expand your brand overseas and increase market share, consider marketing and shipping to other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. This article will serve as a handy checklist for everything you need to know before preparing your shipment of mooncakes out of the country.

1. Check the shipping requirements for mooncakes in the destination country

Traditional mooncakes contain flour, egg yolks and sugar as the base ingredients, with red bean or lotus seed paste as the filling. Due to food safety laws and the perishable nature of mooncakes, shipping them requires some prior research about the destination country’s import laws. To avoid a rejected shipment, it’s important to check whether there are restrictions and regulations in place for the country you plan on exporting mooncakes to. For example, 34 countries, including Indonesia, now ban the import of mooncakes, while Taiwan bans importing mooncakes containing meat. 

The table below summarises the shipping requirements for some countries that you’ll need to take note of.

Destination Country

Shipping Requirements / Restrictions

Shipping to China

Mooncakes containing yolk are not allowed for import. If you intend to resell mooncakes in China, you need to register for a Chinese label at the local customs. The required paperwork includes: 

a) a sanitary certificate from the origin country

b) a certificate of origin

c) a sales contract

d) the original label and its Chinese translation

Shipping to Taiwan

Please review new shipping rules in Taiwan.

Mooncakes made in China are not permitted for import into Taiwan. However, the mooncake can be imported if it fulfils the following conditions: 

a) does not contain any meat

b) approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

c) the shipment weighs less than 6kg

Shipping to Hong Kong

An import licence is needed for mooncakes containing eggs or egg products.

Shipping to Japan

Mooncakes must not contain any meat, eggs, milk, cheese and unprocessed whey protein. A commercial invoice is required to declare that the mooncake shipment does not contain the above ingredients.

Shipping to South Korea

Mooncakes must not contain any yolk or meat. The shipment weight and value cannot exceed 0.5kg and US$100, respectively. The shelf life of the mooncakes needs to be at least one month.

In general, most countries require additional import licences when the mooncakes are imported for commercial use or wider distribution. If you are not sure whether your mooncake shipment meets the local requirements, do check in with your delivery partner to ensure a smooth delivery.

2. Prepare the necessary documents prior to shipping mooncakes

Apart from country-specific import licences, you will need to prepare an air waybill (AWB). An AWB is a legally binding contract that is required for goods being shipped by international air courier service providers.

Every parcel should be accompanied by one AWB. Should you wish to ship more than one box of mooncakes to the same recipient, ensure that they are packed together in a single box. Attach a hard copy of the AWB, or write the recipient’s name, contact number and AWB number on the package and you’re good to go.

3. Ensure a reasonable shelf life of your mooncakes

One factor to consider before sending mooncakes overseas is the time it takes to reach the destination country to ensure they are still fresh upon delivery. Be sure to check how long the shipment will take from Singapore to your shipping destination.

Some countries, like South Korea, have rules imposed on the minimum shelf life of mooncakes prior to shipping. As a rule of thumb, we recommend mooncakes to have at least three months of shelf life remaining so that they will not go bad upon arrival.

Adhering to international customs regulations ensures your mooncakes reach their shipping destination successfully.

Most mooncake boxes are purely decorative and serve no real purpose when it comes to protecting the fragile pastries. Unexpected mishaps can happen during transit, which might cause your mooncakes to be damaged. In order to keep your mooncakes intact while being delivered, ensure you package them properly

Some good packaging tips include:

  • Lining the box or container with extra padding to cushion the mooncakes from physical shocks.
  • Placing a silica gel or oxygen absorber in the box will keep the mooncakes fresher for a more extended period.
  • Ensuring the total number of mooncakes fit well into the box to prevent them from shifting around while in transit.

5. Enlist the help of a trusted delivery services provider

To minimise shipping costs and any hiccups along the way, it is always advisable to entrust your mooncake shipment with a reliable courier. Getting used to the different customs requirements can be overwhelming, so having an international expert to ship out your parcels quickly and reliably is key.

By choosing DHL Express as your express delivery provider, you ensure that all of your customs clearance needs are taken care of by our proficient in-house service teams.

On top of our global expertise, other advantages of using DHL Express include:

  • Extensive global reach of more than 220 countries and territories
  • Live updates about your shipment’s clearance statuses
  • Flexibility to decide the parcel’s collection time and place
  • Direct door-to-door shipping services
  • User-friendly tracking tools such as MyDHL+, MyBill and ODD (On-Demand Delivery)

If you’re in need of delivering some mooncakes overseas from Singapore, look no further for the perfect courier for the job. Contact us to learn more about our express delivery services today.

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