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Topic: To any postal workers, I have a question I really need some help with

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Subject: To any postal workers, I have a question I really need some help with
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 10:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2006
Posts: 436
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To any postal workers,

Please, I need some help. I've tried to call my local post office (two of them in fact, but only one answered) to ask questions about shipping a small package to England.

Normally, I'd just go in and get some one-on-one help, but the problem is that I'm a disabled individual. Going in to the PO means getting a friend or family member to help. Naturally it's packed and I don't know if I want to subject my friends and family to all that frustration if I can find another way to get the information I need.

Okay, this is the deal... Last year I got one of those small flat-rate priority boxes. I think it cost me about $24.45 to mail to England. The box I used, to try and give an example is the size of a DVD. But the thickness is as though you put two and a half DVDs together.

For this year, I know shipping costs went up, so I've been trying to figure stuff out. And am sitting here scratching my head!

When I actually got in touch with one PO, the lady there said there was no regular mail. I was hoping to mail a small box of tea or something, at the very least. Small, lightweight, but they said no.

The worker said the only two options were the medium-sized priority box for $45 and the large priority box for $58.

Are these really the only two options available??

I actually bought for my friends who live there about $15-20 worth of stuff per person. I really am at a loss on what to say if the cheapest option is $45. I just don't have that kind of money to be spending on shipping...to one person...for $15-20 worth of stuff!

So please, if this is indeed correct, then that's fine. I'll deal. But if there are any other options--cheaper options--and maybe that worker was just not as well informed as she thought, then I'd really like to know!

I'll say thanks in advance!
Natalie B.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 11:15 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,121
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I am not a postal worker, but here is their pricing page for mailing to the UK: http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/fh_014.htm#ep3576772

If you scroll almost to the bottom, you'll see a section called "Packages (Small Packets)" which can weigh up to 4 lbs. You would use your own box, and it has to be smaller than 36" when you add up the length, width and depth measurements. The price for 1 lb. is $11.39. The price for 3 lbs is $25.71. It's probably not going to get there until after Christmas.

For Priority mail, there are three flat-rate sizes. The small box, which sounds like what you used last year is $13.95. The medium is $45.50. The large is $58.50.

Date Posted: 12/17/2011 11:16 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 3,532
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I'm not a postal worker but do send packages international from time to time. If you use your own packaging you can send it first class and depending on the weight should be under $15.

mistie -
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 2,017
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Natalie, the postal worker you spoke too must have misunderstood your question, becasue her reposnse is incorrect. There most definitely is first class airmail service to the UK - not just priority mail. There is now reason you can't package your items in yout own boxes/bubble mailers etc. If you have a good scale at home you can weight your packages and work out the postage costs before visiting the PO, so you don't have any surprises.

Cathy has already given you a direct link, you can also get information on international options by going to the usps.com website and seleting the various options.

You will  need to fill out a customs form to attach to your parcel. I think these can be downloaded from the USPS website.

Just be aware that heavier parcels can get expensive, quickly :-) If your items are heavy, sometimes the flat rate priority paid boxes are the cheapest option.

If these are gifts, you have left it very late - and it's unlikely they will arrive for Christmas.

Subject: UK
Date Posted: 12/19/2011 4:52 AM ET
Member Since: 12/13/2011
Posts: 1
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Natalie, if you send a package to UK, you have the option to send it First Class or priority, depending on the weight. You have to attach a custom form.

Date Posted: 12/21/2011 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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If you use a small flat rate box or envelope, you can purchase the postage at usps.com for $13.25, print it at home, and just give it to someone to drop at the PO, no waiting in line. It does all of the customs stuff for you. First class you have to do at the PO.