Care packages (Or: That’s a LOT of tape

While Marco and Roger were visiting last month, they ordered some t-shirts to be delivered to my place. Unfortunately, those t-shirts went on back order and didn’t arrive until last week. So it became my job to get them from New York to the Netherlands. I became intimately familiar with the Post Office’s USPS.com and international rates – it’s a bit expensive.

It was not, actually, my first time mailing something internationally. The first time was in June 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks took hockey’s Stanley Cup, and Marco sweetly begged me to let him mail stuff to my parent’s house in Chicago so it could be sent onwards (by us) to the Netherlands. At that point we’d only been hanging out as friends for about 8 months, but it was still fun.

So, after Marco’s stuff arrived at our house, we diligently set out to find a box to fit everything in, taped it up, and took it to UPS. Thankfully the worker there told us it would be much cheaper if we went through the regular post office. He said it would be over $100 if we used UPS. So Dad and I went to the USPS and (I guess) filled out the customs forms – it was a new experience as I had never had any real international penpals before.

(Marco also bought me my own Anaheim Ducks championship key chain for my efforts and paid for the shipping for the rest. I still have the key chain to this day – in fact, it’s on the shelf near where I am sitting, buried in a pile of blue roses he got me at a different time.)

Back to this package. Since it was already going to be rather expensive if I used a medium-sized priority mail box ($48) I went with a large one instead ($60) and filled it with some food products. NOTE: Don’t write ‘food products’ on the customs form. It even says “be specific!”… of course, I guess I took it a step too far, since I wrote out exactly what each food item was, including the brand name. The kind post office worker told me I didn’t have to be that specific – writing “cookies” or “candy” is good enough for them. And sadly the barbecue sauce was a no go, since it is considered a liquid (I had it in a thick ziplock bag). That was easy enough to fix, but it did mean cutting open the tape, taking it out, and applying MORE tape on top. That box looks a bit sad, with how much tape it has on it…

Speaking of the post office worker — she is definitely my favorite. She was also the worker who took care of my passport application and photo back in Spring 2010 and is always there when I am looking to buy an international stamp or two. She even told me how much it would have cost if I had used a regular brown box instead ($52.50), as I mentioned that I might be mailing more stuff in a few months. Though I do like the convenience of the Priority Mail boxes. She fixed up my newbie mistakes on the custom form and got my package squared away.

Now… I hope it doesn’t get delayed at Dutch customs!

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Categories: Marco&Niki | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Care packages (Or: That’s a LOT of tape

  1. I’ve found the key to Dutch customs is to keep the listed value at or below about $40. Anything more than that, and they’re likely to delay it and then charge the receiver an import tax. Less, and they usually just let it sail on through. My parents and in-laws send us care packages a few times a year, and it usually only takes about 5-7 business days (unless it’s around Christmas).

    • Mine was a bit higher.. (about $55 or so). Hopefully it still gets through, but we’ll see. Thanks for the info!

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