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Topic: If you are shipping to an APO or FPO

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Subject: If you are shipping to an APO or FPO
Date Posted: 7/8/2009 6:09 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2008
Posts: 97
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Please, if you are shipping to an APO or FPO, you must fill out a customs form, and it must be mailed from the post office.

I received a book today(the second time this has happened, in a month) with no customs form.  Granted, it got here, thankfully, and yes, if the book would of gone lost, I would of got my credit back, but, I would of rather had the book.

If you are told otherwise that you do not need a customs form, its wrong. Why the postal clerk did not catch this, I have no idea, as postage was purchased at the  PO.

Oh, and this was not a lightweight book either, it has 1, 070 pages.

Thanks,

Leigh

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 8:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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Leigh, part of the problem might be that for certain weights and classes of mail the PO does not require a customs form but, the military PO system does require one.  If the clerk just treats it as a regular international delivery, and it's under a pound, they may not realize that it still needs the customs white form.  I've encountered this myself a couple of times, and even had a clerk who refused to accept a package with the forms already on it because she said they were not required.  I printed out the specific APO/FPO customs requirements at home then went back and handed them to her with the package, which was then accepted.

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 10:52 AM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 242
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To anyone who cannot send mail to military addresses, due to transportation to the post office or any other issues:

  1. Accept the request & print the address only
  2. PM me for my address
  3. Mail to me as usual, include the printed address form with the military recipient's name
  4. Let me know if you have PM'd the requester -- if you have not, then I will to let them know it may take a little longer, but they will still get their book
  5. I will fill out the customs forms and send it on
Date Posted: 7/8/2009 11:06 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2008
Posts: 97
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Bernhard,

Well, if that is the case(which I think it is in this instance)that makes me kind of sad. I cannot in anyway expect us non-postal employees to know the ins and outs of postal requirements, but, I should be able to expect it from the postal employees.

I just weighed the book on my digital kitchen scale, it weighs 1lb 1.7 ounces, unwrapped.  The book was wrapped in brown paper and then mummified with tape, so, you could probably add at least 3 ounces to that.

Shouldn't the point of sale terminal at the PO tell the the clerk what the requirements are?  When you buy postage, no matter what class you use to mail, the zip code  has to be entered into the terminal, I have an APO zip code.  I would think that a message would flash on the screen informing the clerk a customs form is needed on said package.  Like I said earlier, I expect the postal employees to know all the ins and outs of the regs, I don't expect them to remember them all, they are only human ;-).  It never hurts to be reminded.

Now I am going to have to find an APO address to mail to, so I can quiz my clerk on what exactly what pops up on the screen when they are entering the zip code before they give me a price.

Oh, and just to be fair, I mailed a book yesterday that weighed not quite 5 ounces, mailed first class, and still put a customs form on it!  I asked the clerk if I had to, she said yes, just because it was coming from me.

Leigh

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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When I am doing a package for a military address, the computer screen allows me to bypass the scanning of the customs form. I do not know why it is programmed that way but because it is. Therefore people believe it is OK to bypass the form. On priority international transactions, you cannot bypass the scanning. I wish it would be updated to not allow a bypass when the form is required. I will reread the writing on the screen tomorrow at work (if I remember).

I sure wish all or even most postal employees where well trained and provided with continuing education. It is difficult (read impossible) to remember all the rules and regulations. I try to do my best but I still find new to me things often. The transactions I do frequently, I know MUCH better than the ones I do rarely. Then it seems like for fun, the rules change. The rules need simplified so it is easy to learn and teach.

Stepping down off the soapbox now.....

You do not need to actually mail something to find out the information, Leigh. Have the clerk lean on the scale or put something (anything) on it. Use the zip you want to see the information (it can even be your own zip code). Then go on like you are mailing a package. The computer does not care what is on the scale, it just gives the information for the weight and zip code it is given. If you just type in the zip code and type a weight in, I think it will bypass the customs form because it knows you are not really mailing something.

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 1:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Mailed you a book last week Leigh, it's currently showing up in NJ.  My first APO addy, IIRC my postal clerk said I could use the green customs form if the item being mailed is under 1 lb and/or 34 inches?  Or maybe it was 36 inches..something like that anyway.   Above that requires the white customs form.  My local clerks seem to be knowledgable and efficient :-)



Last Edited on: 7/9/09 1:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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Patti, you have the option to bypass the customs forms for military mail because they aren't required in some circumstances... such as a government contractor shipping items to a unit, or a government agency.  Let me go get a link and I'll post it.  It describes all the different customs requirements for military mail.

Okay, this is a http://webapps.usps.com/customsforms/helppickaform.htm to the main customs forms usage table.   Note the line for military packages containing merchandise.  I've been told that because books cost a credit, and credits have a cash value, the books can be considered merchandise.

The big table of restrictions is printed in the Postal Bulletin.  You can always read the latest issue at this http://www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/bulletin/pb.htm   Look for the pull-out section (it's in PDF format) and then scroll to the bottom for the military restrictions.

I hope this helps everyone out!



Last Edited on: 7/9/09 1:32 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 1:35 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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Also, I just want to reiterate what's in my signature line.  If you have an APO/FPO/DPO address, and there's a book you want from here that you can't get because the sender doesn't want to deal with the forms, PM me with the info and I'll get it and send it to you, free of charge.  And I ship Priority Mail, so it gets there quick.

I'm a vet, vets help vets.  'Nuff said.



Last Edited on: 7/9/09 1:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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I am just thinking that because the option is there, some clerks will consider it acceptable to bypass without reading the rules. It would be better to add a screen with the exceptions listed and a yes or no option. It would not solve all problems but it would be a good step in my opinion.

Bernard, I think it is great that you help people understand the rules so everything can go great.

 

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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Well Patti, because of the organization I belong to, which ships mostly computer software to military members overseas, I needed to learn all the rules and regulations for mailing to APO/FPO addresses with our commercial account.  I also helped some friends start up a mail processing business back in the early 90's, so I already had a pretty good understanding of the IMM and DMM.  And, my g/f used to be a consular officer with the Department of State, so I learned what a DPO was.  And I'm a vet myself.

Put all that together and plop me down here in PBS and it's pretty much a "given" that I'll do whatever I can to help get books to the troops.  Our military members overseas have enough to worry about, and anything we can do to make their time in service a little easier is worthwhile.  Since the major problem seems to be in understanding both the regular PO regs and the military PO regs regarding customs forms I'm just trying to get the right information out where it can be understood and used.

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/5/2008
Posts: 179
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I didn't know you had to have a customs form for APO addresses. I've never had one of PBS but I did on swapadvd. I just printed out the postage from the site and mailed it. Nothing ever came up saying that I needed to mail it at the post office with a customs form. It did take a long time to get there (went lost, but was eventually recieved), I wonder if that had anything to do with it. I'll know better next time! :-)

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2008
Posts: 1
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I know I'm a month late, weighing in on this, but I'm at an APO, too and what I've noticed is, if there is no customs form on it, it will take a really long time to get here, I mean long enough that PBS considers it lost in the system.  I've only had one with a customs form take a long time and I think it was just the time of year it was being mailed, as I had some regular mail (amazon) stuff also not arrive and they were all shipped at the same time.  I list it as a condition for mailing books to me now, that it has to have a customs form.  I'm talking a difference of like 5 or 6 weeks in arrival time, all because of a customs form!  Incidentally, every book that I ship out has to be taken to the post office and reqires a customs form.

Kari

Date Posted: 8/21/2009 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 1,705
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Jeeze, I wish I had seen this before!  I just mailed a book to a APO, and the clerk refused to put a customs form on it.  He told me I didn't need it because it was under 16oz.  Then he just took the book, which I had already put the PBS postage and DC on and put it with the mail behind his desk.  I told him that the requester of the book had told me (in their RC) that a customs form was required, but he just brushed me off, and said they were wrong. 

I guess next time I'll just print it off myself and tape it on before going to the PO.

I'll have to PM the requester and tell her I'm sorry, I should have insisted but I didn't, I thought the clerk would know the rules. 

Ah well, now I know.

Subject: Help filling out the customs form
Date Posted: 4/20/2010 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 7
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Hi,

I got a request for a book to be sent to an APO AE address and I went to the USPS website to fill the form out online.  They ask for the recipients phone number do I need to get this from the requester?  Also they ask if I am sending it airmail or ground? I thought ground but just wanted to be sure that was correct.    I'm just using the postage that was calculated by the PBS website for 6 oz. first class pkg. 

 

Thanks for your help.

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 12:42 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Teena, some members report using their own phone number on the form.  Not sure about your other questions tho...

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 8:51 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2008
Posts: 97
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Teena,

Check the air option.

Since it is going first class, it will go by air, and depending on where the receiver is, they might get it in a week.

Well, maybe not.  Due to the volcano, mail has not been coming or going for military members in Europe at least.  Unfortunately, when mail stops, it will cause a backlog that is going to take a while to clear up once delivery gets re-started.

Oh, and another thing, for future reference, a lot of people find the hard-copy form that is available at the post office easier to fill out then the computer one.  Next time you are at the p.o., you can even pick up a handful to have on hand.

 

Leigh

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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Do DPO addresses need a customs form? I just sent a book to one of those the other day, and I asked my postmaster and he said no.

But he also said he can't sell me postage for a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope going overseas, when the USPS website clearly says you can... good thing Click 'n Ship is cheaper anyway (for Priority Mail).

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2008
Posts: 97
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Last I checked, DPO does need a customs form. 

And, yes, he can sell you postage for flat rate, APO, FPO, DPO addressess, they are treated the same way as mail going within the United States.  Using his goofy logic, where the heck are you supposed to buy postage then??????

 

Leigh

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 1:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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And, yes, he can sell you postage for flat rate, APO, FPO, DPO addressess, they are treated the same way as mail going within the United States.  Using his goofy logic, where the heck are you supposed to buy postage then??????

 
He just meant that he didn't think the flat rate envelope rate applied for international, that you had to charge by the weight for it. He's also retiring in a month and flat out doesn't care anymore, but I still love him. 
 
Hope my DPO book gets there eventually sans customs form. 
Subject: Mailing to FPO/APO?
Date Posted: 5/26/2010 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/24/2009
Posts: 26
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OK, I'm mailing my first book to an FPO, and got the specs with the request, taking it to the PO, needs the bigger, white customs form...

This book, though, is a small, thin, kids book, and it weighs less than 4 oz, so I did what I usually do (I mail worldwide with my business) and sent it regular FIRST CLASS (not media mail) and put the regular little green customs form on it.  Hoping that'll get it there, I've never once used the bigger customs form, and my parcels have always gotten there. 

I know, looking danger in the face is my middle name...

:o)

Robin 

http://mavinci.net <----Rubber Stamp Alphabets for the font junkie in you.

 

 

 

Scott (scalta) - ,
Date Posted: 6/14/2010 8:57 AM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2010
Posts: 723
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Last Edited on: 7/15/11 5:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: APO addresses
Date Posted: 6/17/2010 6:55 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,428
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I sent my first book to an APO address awhile back. It got there fine.  I wasn't sure which form to use, so I asked the clerk and he handled me one and then handed me several others"just in case". He even heloed me fill it out.