Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Send Your Stuff Back to the US

I shipped seven different packages back to the US and decided to post the different shipping options here in the hopes that someone may find it useful. I had the luck of being helped by a very nice guy at La Poste back in April when I was sending a present back to the US, so when it came time to ship my stuff in July I was prepared with my options. I'll include prices for other non-EU anglophone countries as well.

Option One: If You're Sending Books (to the US, maybe others?)
Boxes of books up to 4 kg or 8.8 lbs (although I think they'll take up to 5kg because my box came in at 4.2 kg) have a special rate in order to "facilitate cultural exchanges" (that's what the guy told me). Of course I can't find an actual rate online, but the package I sent that was 4.2 kg only cost me about 13 euros. It's a great deal, and I definitely recommend sending your books separately in order to save some money.

Option Two: Sending a Small Envelope (all non-EU countries)
You can send up to 1 kg (2.2 lbs) in small envelopes that come with a little bubble wrap to help cushion things inside. They only cost 14 or 15 euros, so this is also a good deal if you're sending something small and not too fragile. The envelope is called Chrono Express and it arrives in the US in a week. It's cheaper than making a box of things that weigh 1 kg. Sending a 1 kg box to the US, Canada and South Africa costs almost 17 euros, to Australia, New Zealand or India it would cost 21.50. It isn't a huge saving to the US, Canada, and SA, but every few euros helps, right?

There is also a similar Chrono post box that you can send for overnight delivery but that costs about 90 euros, so I only recommend that in case of emergency.

Option Three: Make Your Own Box (all non-EU countries, different rates apply)
You can pick up any box you have lying around or can scrounge from your schools or local businesses, pack it, stick on an address, then take it to the post office, fill out customs forms, and pay for it based on the kilo. If you're sending between 2-5 kg (4.4 - 11 lbs) that isn't only books or over 7 kg (15.4 lbs), this is probably your best option. 3 kg (6.6 lbs) costs 25.20 to the US, Canada and SA and 36.90 to Australia, India or NZ. If you send 10 kg you spend 75.60 to the US etc and 93.60 to NZ etc.

Those are the "economique" prices, there is also an express price but again, it's extremely expensive and not worth it unless it's urgent.

Rates can be found here.

Option Four: Colissimo International (all non-EU countries, same rate)
In my opinion this is probably your best option for non-books. You can buy flat-rate international boxes from your local La Poste, put your stuff inside, fill out some customs forms, stick on an address, and then drop it back off at the post office. A large box that holds 5 kg costs 35.50, or extra large costs 41 euros and holds up to 7 kg. The weight limits don't really count because no one weighed my packages, so as long as you aren't sending 15 kg, I wouldn't worry about it. These rates are better than you can get making your own package, especially for Australia, NZ and India. The downside is that the boxes are sort of unsturdy, I put a lot of extra tape on them, but all of my stuff arrived in good shape and the boxes didn't break, they just bent a bit, so it probably isn't a good option for anything fragile. They arrive in about a week.

Hope someone finds this helpful!


Andromeda said...

Wow! Thanks for the info! My shippin secret is using your own padded envelope (20 cents at a office store) and sending less than 200g is 5 euros, so perfect for a birthday card and some chocolate.

Isabelle said...

Yes, like Andromeda wrote, when you want to send something light in an envelope, don't buy the padded envelopes sold by La Poste!
I made the mistake once to send some school pictures to my in-laws in one of the padded envelopes sold by La Poste. It cost me way too much! Now I buy the padded envelopes at the marchand de journaux... Much cheaper!

Leesa said...

Good info! I can't believe how expensive it is to send stuff from France!
I sent a box of baking soda and baking powder- small and light items that cost about $2 and it cost 8 euros to send to another region in France!!
I sent a box of choc. from France to the U.S. on economy rate-- the box was pretty small and under a kilo... about .5 kg and cost more to send than the chocs. 22 euros to send and 18 euros for the box of chocs!!
It's just a shame that from the U.S. you can no longer send stuff "surface mail" by boat or "media mail"-- just books... Shipping is expensive!

shannon said...

Wow! La chance avec Colissimo International! I've used it before and my packages took a month to arrive! My French prof had worse luck one time in that it never arrived! But then again, we don't know if La Poste is to blame or the USPS. The USPS can be just as troublesome sometimes!

au soleil levant said...

And I didn't even know you could buy padded envelopes outside of the post office! So you can buy them at... what, a paper store like Majescule?

Leesa - my cousin is in grad school in Hawaii, which is twice as far from mainland US as France is, and the shipping is still domestic US price! So unfair!

Shannon - yeah, we'll see if the other boxes I sent arrive at all. I'm a little nervous...

Isabelle said...

I buy my padded envelopes at my "marchand de journaux" (the place where you buy the daily papers, magazines etc.)

Animesh said...

Thanks for your tips, although I personally just use travelling Indian students to mole my stuff around ;-)

au soleil levant said...

Isabelle - thanks!

Animesh - I'm glad you get students to "mole" your stuff around. Just tunneling through the earth is a lot cheaper and faster than taking a plane :)

Zhu said...

A nice guy at La Poste? Wow! :D