Document Number
Tax Type
Retail Sales and Use Tax
Delivery destined for foreign export
Documents Subject to Tax
Date Issued
April 2, 2004

Re: Request for Ruling: Retail Sales and Use Tax

Dear **************:

This is in reply to your letter in which you request a ruling on the application of the Virginia sales and use tax to the ***** (the "Agency") regarding the delivery of mail and packages to American Diplomatic and Consular staff assigned overseas.

The Agency operates an international mail and package system that ensures the delivery of personal mail and packages to American staff and their families assigned to diplomatic and consular missions throughout the world. The mail and packages consist of letters, catalogs and mail order purchases. The mail and packages are delivered to a special zip code located at a U.S postal facility in Virginia. From there, the mail and packages are delivered to the Agency's mail facility, also in Virginia. Upon receipt, the mail and packages are staged, sorted, x-rayed for security purposes, consolidated and placed in sealed pouches. None of the mail and packages are opened or modified in any way. Once these procedures are completed, the sealed pouches are delivered to freight forwarders for air shipment to various embassies throughout the world.

The Agency requests a ruling that mail order purchases sent to the special zip code are exempt in accordance with Va. Code § 58.1-609.10(4).


Virginia Code § 58.1-609.10(4) provides an exemption from the sales and use tax for goods delivered to a factor or export agent and destined for foreign export. Such goods are deemed for use and consumption outside Virginia when delivered by the seller to the factor or export agent in the seller's vehicle, by common carrier, by licensed contract or independent trucker hired by the seller or by U.S. mail. The Agency is not itself a factor or export agent and, as such, this exemption does not apply in this instance.

It is my understanding that the Agency is concerned that it may be subject to the Virginia sales tax on mail order purchases sent to the special zip code and forwarded to its mail facility. Therefore, the issue to be resolved is whether a taxable sale occurs. Virginia Code § 58.1-602 defines "sale" to mean "any transfer of title or possession, or both, exchange, barter, lease or rental, conditional or otherwise, in any manner or by any means whatsoever, of tangible personal property ...for a consideration, ...." In this instance, the sale transactions involving the mail order purchases are between the mail order companies and the diplomatic and consular staff and their families overseas. As such, the Agency is not subject to the sales tax regarding the mail order purchases.

The Code of Virginia sections and the regulation cited are available on-line in the Tax Policy Library section of the Department of Taxation's web site, located at If you have additional questions, you may contact ***** in the Office of Policy and Administration, Appeals and Rulings, at *****.
                • Sincerely,
                  • Kenneth W. Thorson
                    Tax Commissioner


    Last Updated 08/25/2014 16:46