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Topic: Shipped Overseas Package Questions (nonbook related)

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Subject: Shipped Overseas Package Questions (nonbook related)
Date Posted: 10/7/2013 10:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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Hopefully someone on here can help me out. I have shipped several packages to a friend that lives over near London. I shipped one in a priority mail small flat rate box on July 9th. He has yet to receive it. I've emailed the post office with the tracking number off of the customs form and they told me customs has been holding it and if it is rejected it will be sent back to me. I think it being held for three months is a bit silly and was wondering what do I do. The us post office doesn't seem to want to be bothered by my emails as they pretty much said we can't help.


I also shipped him another package (as I wanted him to get his Christmas gifts...) a few weeks ago and I fear it is going to be the same problem.


The first package had a package of sealed tea (which I checked with the tea shop and they said I should have no problems sending it over) and a necklace.


The second package has a tea cup and saucer that I made and painted.


Can anyone help me figure out what has happened? I've also sent him a few letters in the past and he hasn't received those either. He has only received one package from me and that was of a glass keychain I made for him. So I know I have his address right as he has received something!



Date Posted: 10/7/2013 11:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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USPS ships it to Customs, who then ship it to the other countries customs, who then put it in the other countries mail stream. So once its in Customs, USPS has no control over it, they CAN"T do anything to help.


I looked at the restrictions to England (which every shipper should do before shipping to a foreign country) The only thing I could see that could be holding it up is this: "Plants and parts of plants require an import permit issued by the appropriate Agricultural Department in the United Kingdom."

since tea is the dried leaves of a plant, this could be the reason for the holdup

it COULD also maybe be thought to be soil or cremated remains (both of which are prohibited) if the container leaked.


some questions, did you fill out the customs form ACCURATELY? accounting for every item in the package?  nothing vague like "gift" listed? 


we get spoiled by our country's good postal system and we forget sometimes that other countries don't have as good of a service as we do. 

Date Posted: 10/7/2013 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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I did list on the customs form sealed tea. I listed everything out. I contacted the store I bought the tea from before I shipped it to make sure it was ok to ship over to England as I know some countries are a bit strict on what to send and this store deals in tea and tea alone and they said it would be fine. But every customs form I have listed exactly what is in there, even the letter inside. And when I shipped the cup and saucer I put tea cup and saucer and I sent that priority mail medium flat rate.

I'm wanting to send him a birthday present too (more tea, he likes tea and the tea shop I order from doesn't have a store over there) but I'm waiting to see what happens before I send a ton of tea over there. I've found a customs office website to email so I tried them. I may be way off on who I emailed but I'm trying. I figured I would have gotten a letter or something or if nothing else they take the tea out and send him the necklace still since the necklace is just a key with a metal wing pendant attached to it.

Date Posted: 10/8/2013 12:22 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Try calling farther up the USPS chain to see if anyone has any answers, or maybe try their website?  I've had good success with the online help section, they were able to point me in the right direction (or at least who to contact) over that DC software problem last winter.

I've mailed a couple packages to DD in the London area.  So far they've arrived in a week or two without problems.  Another went out last Friday, so hopefully it goes as well.

Has your friend attempted to rattle the mail delivery cage from his end?  As a citizen he might have more success than a foreigner.  Homegrown tea might be questioned, but commercially processed and packaged shouldn't be a problem.  It's probably just a glitch rather than a content problem.  Unfortunately, once the package leaves the country, I don't think there's any way to track it. It would be helpful to know where the package is stuck. 

Date Posted: 10/8/2013 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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I tried their website and got the email stating it's over in the UK somewhere and out of their hands. I emailed the UK customs tonight (hopefully the right UK customs) so hopefully that'll get me somewhere. I told him to ask his post office but he has odd hours so for him to contact them doesn't work too well. I know when I sent him the keychain it took a month for it to arrive. I even bought a plaque from a store in Ireland, had it shipped to him and that even took a month!


Date Posted: 10/8/2013 4:49 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 706
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Sounds like the problem is on his end.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 10/8/2013 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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What value did you state on the customs form? Sometimes foreign customs will hold packages until the recipient pays the import duty, so it's best not to overstate for things like handmade gifts, which might have a high sentimental value but a lower actual value.

Also, if you really want to send him tea, try having the store ship directly to him if they can. Some stores / online retailers don't do international shipping, but those that do usually know how to maximize the possibility and timeliness of their packages getting there.

Date Posted: 10/8/2013 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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I just saw today where the cup and saucer I made are at the post office on the 1st. That I put at 30.00 which is what I paid for the materials to make it. The necklace and tea are still MIA and those I put at 40.00 I think as the necklace was 35.00 and the tea was 5.00. The tea store doesn't ship internationally or I would have gone directly through them. 


I think for his next present it's going to be tea in one box in case it doesn't make it and regular presents in another as I have a feeling the tea is what is keeping the other held up. 

Date Posted: 10/8/2013 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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Funniest thing ever. He just received BOTH packages today. The one I sent clear in July and the one from a couple weeks ago. Now that's odd that they both show up on the same day but one was sent three months ago!!!! Go figure. Oh well, at least he got them.