International & Military Shipping
Need to send baby shower gifts to your daughter living in Italy? How about sending a military serviceman a care package? Do legal documents need to get to India? Customs forms and commercial invoices can be complicated and challenging. A package with incorrect information may be subject to penalty fees, and may not be delivered at all. Countries change their import regulations frequently, and while it is impossible to keep up with every change, we at Eastern Iowa Pak Mail have regular continuing education, access to our franchise’s International specialists, and years of experience with International shipping. We will do all we can to assist you in completing the paperwork that is required.
Forms aren’t the only headache when shipping internationally. Even with perfect paperwork, if any part of the contents is not allowed by the country or the carrier, the package won’t be delivered. In that case, you will probably be responsible for any return shipping costs. We will be glad to direct you to resources that may help you select the acceptable contents.
Here are some pointers:
- It is important to consult regulations before sending battery operated toys, tools, and other devices. Usually it is best to remove batteries from electronic devices and toys to prevent accidental activation during transport. The ticking of a clock, the buzz of a child’s mixer or spoken words from an educational toy can all cause concern and may result in the package being rejected.
- There are diverse requirements for other batteries such as the lithium ion type. Regulations vary from carrier to carrier and from country to country, and they change frequently. Special labeling is usually required. Investigate before you choose items for shipping.
- Avoid sending anything that will melt such as chocolates. Fresh fruit or unprocessed food is almost universally prohibited. Be cautious about sending very fragile items. Foreign postal and carrier services may not have the equipment or techniques to protect delicate packages. Remember that pornographic material is illegal in some countries, and this may include catalogs and magazines with swimsuits or lingerie.
- International shipping can be expensive. Distance, weight and size all contribute to cost. Small, lightweight packages less than 4 pounds will usually be most economical.
- Import regulations vary widely and change frequently. Chocolate may be welcome in some countries and prohibited or highly taxed in another. An article of clothing made in the US may be fine, but one made in China may not be allowed. Used clothing is almost universally prohibited, even if it is the personal property of the recipient, but occasionally we can find a way to get it there. Before you shop, check on the prohibitions for the destination country. You may also wish to research any gift exclusions for that destination so your recipient will not need to pay duty or taxes.
- Postal packages to APO and FPO addresses are sent through military post offices in the U.S., and can be sent at domestic rates. However, they still require customs forms and must comply with customs rules and regulations for the country where the unit is serving. Other carriers such as FedEx and DHL may deliver to some foreign bases, but special information is required. Consult with us before making plans for non postal services to overseas military installations.
Unfortunately, new regulations no longer allow Pak Mail to compile and sign customs forms for you; however, we can and will assist you. Custom forms, especially for packages going to Europe, now require details on each item. As you gather the things you are sending, make a list to bring with you to Pak Mail, whether you have done the packaging or we are going to be doing it for you.
You must have the following for each item:
- the number of identical pieces
- the weight
- the specific description of each item ( cotton man’s shirt or plastic bowls)
- the country of origin (3 girl’s blouses made in 3 different countries, must be listed separately)
- the value of each item
- Plus … a Harmonization Code (sometimes referred to as a Schedule B number) is now required by some countries. Pak Mail will provide you with tools to help you locate the proper number. There may be penalties for using the wrong number.
Bring the list with your items or package. Once a carrier has been selected, we will type the information into the form provided by the carrier’s software, print the form, and you will then sign it. We will be glad to provide worksheets ahead of time so you can record as you plan what to send.