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12-09-2009, 08:47 PM   #1
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Using International Priority Mail

What is the best way to ship to Europe? I like to use priority mail in the US. It is easy to print the labels and pay on line. Then I just drop the package at the PO when I pick up my mail. You can do this with international priority mail but they force you to use flat rate boxes. The small flat rate box, which will not hold a lens, cost $12.95. The medium flat rate box is ok but the USPS postage rate to Europe is $41.95. This seems like a lot for the extra size box and makes it prohibitive to sell any lower cost items to Europe. Any one got a good suggestion?
John

12-09-2009, 08:56 PM   #2
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I've never been forced to use the flat rate boxes. Where is it going?

There is almost always an option for Priority Mail without flat rate. What's more, you are right, this would be the more cost effective method very often. I've done it twice in the last month... one to OZ and the other to NL.

The old trick was to take a priority box, pull it apart, and then assemble it with the brown side out. Now they are printing the insides of the boxes with "Priority Mail Postage Required." They have not gone so far as to say FLAT RATE PRIORITY MAIL REQUIRED, so you might still get away with this trick.

Is this clear? Hope so...

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12-10-2009, 10:20 AM   #3
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I have not shipped anything USPS in a while, but the last time I checked the delivery times on 'Priority' mail and 1st class I was told it was the samo. I have been under the impression that the term is used to charge a bit more with essentially no differance in service speed. Since 'Priority' I don't belived is tracked and if you want that, insurance, delivery reciept etc it is extra.

I am thinking 'Priority' is a bit scammy except for the no-weigh, all-zone standard USPS box/parcel stuff. which is really 1st class.

Just my dated opinion.
12-10-2009, 02:18 PM   #4
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Priority International is "insured" (or least they say that the max value is up to $400 for "incedental damage"...can't think of the exact terminology, I gotta run).

And like already stated, First Class doesn't have a tracking number built in.

From America to Europe should be about a week with First Class, depending on country, of course.

12-10-2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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First Class is generally referred to as being 7-21 days, while Priority is 6-10.

In my experience, Priority often takes far more than 10, but it's not a "guaranteed service."

With priority you get tracking and the insurance option.

In my experience you don't have to use flat rate boxes for Priority International. However, you do have to fill out customs forms, so you can't just drop 'em at the P.O., unless you have the forms and sticky plastic envelopes at home/work.
12-10-2009, 04:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbevans Quote
What is the best way to ship to Europe? I like to use priority mail in the US. It is easy to print the labels and pay on line. Then I just drop the package at the PO when I pick up my mail. You can do this with international priority mail but they force you to use flat rate boxes. The small flat rate box, which will not hold a lens, cost $12.95. The medium flat rate box is ok but the USPS postage rate to Europe is $41.95. This seems like a lot for the extra size box and makes it prohibitive to sell any lower cost items to Europe. Any one got a good suggestion?
John
In the last 4 months when I unloaded my Nikon photographic equipment and some Pentax lenses on FleaBay, about 1/3 of shipping was overseas. To protect myself, I don't use any service but Priority International with insurance up to the purchase price (tracking is automatic with customs form).

I don't think there's any requirement to use flat rate boxes.

I think that "requirement" is due to a misunderstanding: about 2 months ago, USPS started a new requirement for packages shipped overseas: that the box has to fully accommodate the customs form. The customs form in the plastic bag stuck to the box can't be folded.

That eliminates the small Priority box (6X6X7 I think) that is perfect for shipping a lens or a body. The next box size up that meets the requirement about the customs form is the medium flat rate box. If you use this box as is, of course you have to pay about $41 flat rate.

There is a USPS size that is not very well-known: the shoe box size. This size meets the customs form requirement, but many post offices don't stock this size.

So you can do what is suggested in a previous post: ask for a medium flat rate box, and use it inside out.

QuoteOriginally posted by ryan s Quote
Priority International is "insured" (or least they say that the max value is up to $400 for "incedental damage"...can't think of the exact terminology, I gotta run).
I don't know if there is an upper limit of insurance. I know that by default (no extra charge), Priority International is insured to about $77. I always insure the shipment up to the declared value, once to $1200.

Last edited by SOldBear; 12-10-2009 at 04:27 PM.
12-10-2009, 04:20 PM   #7
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You can also order all the boxen you want, free of charge, from the USPS Store. I've done this so I can package things quickly and easily when I sell.
12-10-2009, 06:05 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
I don't think there's any requirement to use flat rate boxes.

I think that "requirement" is due to a misunderstanding: about 2 months ago, USPS started a new requirement for packages shipped overseas: that the box has to fully accommodate the customs form. The customs form in the plastic bag stuck to the box can't be folded.

That eliminates the small Priority box (6X6X7 I think) that is perfect for shipping a lens or a body. The next box size up that meets the requirement about the customs form is the medium flat rate box. If you use this box as is, of course you have to pay about $41 flat rate.

There is a USPS size that is not very well-known: the shoe box size. This size meets the customs form requirement, but many post offices don't stock this size.

So you can do what is suggested in a previous post: ask for a medium flat rate box, and use it inside out.

I don't know if there is an upper limit of insurance. I know that by default (no extra charge), Priority International is insured to about $77. I always insure the shipment up to the declared value, once to $1200.
That sums things up pretty well. I have been shipping a lot of stuff internationally lately. It stinks that you can't insure first class packages -- it really drives up the cost when you have to use priority and then supplement the default insurance rate.

12-10-2009, 06:14 PM   #9
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I have only used USPS Priority Mail International for Europe shipments. I have probably shipped at least a dozen packages: France, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Never a problem and I do insure. I have used both the flat rate as well as my own boxes. I have also used the service for shipping to Canada.
12-10-2009, 06:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbevans Quote
What is the best way to ship to Europe? I like to use priority mail in the US. It is easy to print the labels and pay on line. Then I just drop the package at the PO when I pick up my mail. You can do this with international priority mail but they force you to use flat rate boxes. The small flat rate box, which will not hold a lens, cost $12.95. The medium flat rate box is ok but the USPS postage rate to Europe is $41.95. This seems like a lot for the extra size box and makes it prohibitive to sell any lower cost items to Europe. Any one got a good suggestion?
John
I've sold several things on eBay internationally, and buyers in China and Europe have never complained about the cost of the shipping from the US.

As long as you are up front about the costs, you should be fine. If they really want a hard to find item, they'll pay the shipping (I was selling old film cameras at the time).
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