USPS Shipping Overseas – How to Ship Internationally by Daria Perse - HTML preview

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Simple Living Guide
USPS Shipping Overseas
How to Ship Internationally

By Daria Perse

Language editing: N. Hunt NOTE: All of my articles and e-Books are the result of personal experiences, opinions or – most likely – descriptions of how I feel about things. I do not claim to be an expert in any area. Therefore, the decision to use the information contained in my written work is your (the reader’s) soul responsibility.

To discover 10 Tips every woman must know


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visit and subscribe at: Copyright © 2006 by Daria Perse. All rights reserved worldwide.


Simple Living Guide on USPS Shipping Overseas - How to Ship Internationally ------- 1


Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3


Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 4


1. Airmail Letter Post-------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5


2. Airmail Parcel Post ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6


3. Priority Mail---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6


4. Express mail--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6


5. Economy Letter Post----------------------------------------------------------------------- 7


6. Economy Parcel Post----------------------------------------------------------------------- 7


7. Which Form – When?---------------------------------------------------------------------- 8


8. When to Purchase ShippingInsurance? ------------------------------------------------ 9


9. When to Purchase RegisteredMail?----------------------------------------------------- 9


10. When to Purchase ReturnReceipt?---------------------------------------------------10


11. When to Buy Postal Scales?------------------------------------------------------------10


12. Where to Get the Forms?---------------------------------------------------------------11


13. Where to Buy Stamps (without Going to the Post Office)? -----------------------11


14. How to Calculate the Postage (from Home)? ---------------------------------------12


15. Follow the Rules -------------------------------------------------------------------------12 Final Words------------------------------------------------------------------------------------13


If you’re like me – shipping a lot to domestic locations, international addresses or both – it makes sense to have some basic value stamps and forms at home at all times. This way you might save some time (and gas) since it’s possible to mail a lot of things by just dropping them in the nearest mailbox instead of standing in the line at the post office every Saturday (or even more often).

The official website is big and might be quite confusing to use. Hence, I did the work (research) for you and wrote this summary of things you should be aware of whenever mailing abroad. My purpose is clear: to help you reduce the costs and time wasted, and to make better choices of which service to use when mailing a specific item.

Use this ebook as a reference book. It might be a good idea to read the whole thing once. After that, check out the table of contents and simply skip to the page/chapter dealing with your current concern.

Keep in mind that I’d be happy to hear from you. You’re welcome to use the feedback form on my webpage or email me via contact info at the end of this Simple Living Guide.

1. Airmail Letter Post

Airmail Letter Post is best for comparatively fast shipments (letters or envelopes) that weighup to 4 pounds. Estimated delivery time: 4 to 10 business days.


NOTE: If you’re shipping an envelope that weighs more than 7 oz. and you’re not in too much hurry, consider Economy Letter Post instead.


Letter: 1 oz. or less

Whenever you need to mail a letter abroad, make it simple. An ordinary #10 envelope (4 1/8” x 9 ½”) containing 4 sheets of regular letter-size paper (not heavy weight), should still weigh less than 1 oz. You don’t even need postal scales for that.

That translates into $.84 for postage to Europe and many other countries, $.63 to Canada or Mexico (current rates: summer 2006). If you’re writing a lot, keep some stamps at home and you can just drop a 1 oz. envelope in any collecting box.

• No customs forms required.


• Delivery time: 4 to 10 business days.


Letter: more than 1 oz.


If your letter is bigger and heavier than the one described above, you’ll either need postal scales or go to the post office.


• Delivery time: 4 to 10 business days


• Customs form required: PS Form2976 (green and white) or2976-A (see Chapter 7: Which Form – When?).

2. Airmail Parcel Post

Globalairmailparcelpost is primarily for packages that have to reach the addressee in 10 business days or so. For the weight up to 4 lb use Form 2976, for heavier packages (4 lb+) use Form 2976-A. Form 2976-A is also required for all packages with contents value over $200.00. For more details see Chapter 7 (Which Form – When?).

3. Priority Mail

Internationalprioritymail is a fast and reliable way of mailing important documents and similar. It costs a lot more than airmail letter post, therefore choose prioritymail for priority mailings only. Use the free prioritymailenvelope(available at the post office or online).

Note: Internationalprioritymailis not available for all countries.

4. Express Mail

Expressmailis the fastest way of shipping and also the most expensive. The official sturdy carton expressmailenvelopeis available for free at the post office and online. Note: Expressmailis not available for shipping to all parts of the world.

5. Economy Letter Post

Don’t even think of shipping an envelope via economyletterpostif it weighs less than 8 oz. It is pricier than airmailletterpost(and a lot slower!). Delivery time is 4 to 6 weeks. That sounds like a long time but I assure you, this is a great way of shipping heavier envelopes (8 oz. +). The rates of economyletterpostare much lower than for airmailletterpost. Any time you’re mailing photos and similar things that are not time-sensitive, that’s the service to choose.

6. Economy Parcel Post

For packages 2 lb+. Again, delivery time is 4 to 6 weeks, which for example means that you would have to send a Christmas present at the beginning of November for the package to arrive to the addressee before Christmas. Economyparcelpostis considerably cheaper than airmailparcelpost.

7. Which Form – When?

Both customs forms (2976, 2976-A) are available free of charge at the post office. You can also order them online once you have an account with

Another option is to print the customs forms online. Unfortunately, that’s not available to anyone. This service has been introduced comparatively recently and it requires an account with If you feel it could be useful to you and providing you don’t mind putting in some effort in the beginning, go ahead and try it out.

NOTE: The form requirement varies by destination country. The instructions outlined below work for most European countries.

IMPORTANT: Check applicable customs restrictions for the destination country. Some items are prohibited. Since your shipment will most probably be inspected by the customs on arrival, don’t send anything you’re not supposed to.

Use Form 2976 for:


• Envelopes up to 16 oz. (1 lb) with contents value under $400.00 (priority letterpost,airmailletterpost,economyletterpost).


Use Form 2976-A for:


• Envelopes up to 16 oz. (1 lb) with contents value over $400.00 (priority letterpost,airmailletterpost,economyletterpost).


• Envelopes that weigh 16 oz. or more (priorityletterpost,airmailletter post,economyletterpost).


• Envelopes with contents value $400.00 or more (priorityletterpost, airmailletterpost,economyletterpost).


• All packages, regardless of weight and value (airmailparcelpost, economyparcelpost).

8. When to PurchaseShippingInsurance

I had some bad experiences in the past when several of my packages shipped overseas mysteriously disappeared before they had ever reached their destination. Therefore, I now secure the shipments of gifts and similar with shippinginsuranceor registeredmailspecial service. Sometimes I add returnreceiptas well.

Shippinginsuranceprotects you from the loss of/damage to the package. In case of loss, the insurance is paid to the recipient (not the sender).


Shippinginsuranceis only available for parcel post to certain countries. The fee depends on the value of the package.

9. When to PurchaseRegisteredMail

For envelopes sent internationally, an additional protection designed to ensure delivery is registeredmail. There’s a flat fee of $7.90 for this special service. When you’re mailing something of greater value to either you or the recipient, it’s well worth paying it.

PS Form3806 is used as a receipt for registeredmail

10. When to PurchaseReturnReceipt?

PS Form 2865 is a returnreceiptfor international mail. This pink card provides the sender with the evidence of delivery. It is completed (signed) by the recipient in the destination country and returned to you via airmail

Whenever you need a proof of delivery (for instance when sending documents, higher value items etc.), paying a flat fee of $1.85 is a smart expense.


The returnreceiptservice is only available with shippinginsurance,recordedmailor globalexpressmail(to some countries).

11. When to Buy Postal Scales?

You can buy cheap and reliable mechanical postal scales (up to 5 lb) for less than $20 (I don’t have the prices from around the country) in every office store. There’s no need to waste your money on electronic scales – which are expensive and tend to break down – except if you’re really mailing (and weighing) a lot. Or maybe you simply prefer the accuracy of the electronic display.

The question is – do you really need them?


If your answer is ‘yes’ to most of the following questions, you should probably consider purchasing postal scales:


• Will you use the scales?


• Are you mailing frequently (smaller packages and envelopes)?


• Do you want to reduce the number of your visits to the post office?


• Will you use the directions in this ebook and calculate the postage at home?

12. Where to Get the Forms?

All forms and shipping supplies are available at the post office and also at the official USPS website

To start ordering or buying from the USPS website you need to open an account with them first. After that, ordering is pretty simple. Some of the shipping supplies and all the forms are free of charge with free delivery in a few business days.

13. Where to Buy Stamps (without Going to the Post Office)?

Again, after you have opened your online account with USPS, things get really simple. For stamp orders – any kind and any quantity of stamps – the S&H charge is $1.00 only. The stamps are delivered to your door via prioritymailin 3 to 5 business days.

To me the one dollar charge is totally worth paying. For several reasons, such as –
- The closest post office is not right around the corner and driving there to purchase some stamps definitely costs me more than a buck in gas alone.
- The website has a complete selection of all stamps (in all different values). I tend to buy all the new issues (making collectors across the ocean really happy!).:

Besides ordering online, books of (usually) 20 first-class domestic rate stamps (currently $.39) are also for sale in food stores and drugstores.

14. How to Calculate the Postage (from Home)?

It’s very easy to calculate the postage (and compare the rates for different services) using the information on the website – but only if you have postal scales or know the exact weight of the envelope/package.

Find the “Calculate Postage” link at the top of the home page and follow through with the information about your package or envelope.

15. Follow the Rules

• Ship only the things that may be shipped via USPS mail service.


• Check the restrictions for every country you’re about to mail to.


• Pack securely to protect the items from damage during shipping. Use strong envelopes and durable packing materials.


• Make sure you include a complete return address (mandatory).


• All shipments accompanied by customs forms are supposed to be mailed from the post office.


• Make sure you list the actual values of the items on the customs form (especially for insured mail).

Final Words

I hope you’ve found a lot of useful information in this SimpleLivingGuide. It should help you make better decisions whenever you need to mail something internationally.

When you know what kind of service you need, it’s so much easier to go to the post office prepared, with all the forms filled in, with correct packaging and complete addresses. And the most important thing is, you’ll never have to overpay for the postage again!

Wishing you happy, safe and trouble-free mailing,




P.S.: If you have additional questions or comments or you think this ebook should contain more information, please email me at:


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