Before you can start actually packing and shipping, you'll want to make sure you have the right supplies on hand. At the very least, you'll need the following:
- Sturdy boxes
- Customs Declaration Forms
- Shipping tape
- Address labels
- Plastic bags or boxes (optional: for separating scented and liquid items from the rest of the contents)
If you've got nothing else to do with your time, you could always head down to your nearest office supply store and stock up on all of these items.
But why bother, when there's a far easier (and cheaper) alternative: the U.S. Post Office. You can order the following items online for free, and the Post Office will deliver them right to your door.
- Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Boxes
- Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note (2976-A)
- Customs Form envelopes
You can also order things like bubble wrap and tape from the Post Office, but you'll be able to find them for less at a brick-and-mortar store.
Of course, you don't have to use official Post Office supplies at all--it's just easier that way. For example, why go to the trouble of weighing your package, figuring out its dimensions, and calculating postage when you can use one of the flat-rate boxes. Pack it, tape it, and boom: you're done. If you prefer to use standard cardboard boxes, just make sure they're sturdy and in good shape.
Another major advantage of using the Post Office's online service is that you can fill out and print shipping labels (including postage) and customs declaratons forms right from your own computer and printer.
And because each country has its own shipping rules, limitations, and customs requirements, using the Post Office's tool will help you ensure that you're using the right forms for the right country and that you're not inadvertently trying to ship something that that they'll confiscate or destroy. In addition to everythng else, you also get a $2.00 per package discount when you use one of the APO/FPO flat rate boxes.
When your packages are ready to go, you can even schedule a free pickup (as long as you've already printed your shipping labels and customs forms). Click here to schedule.
Be sure to read the other articles in this section for more care package tips.
Updated by Armin Brott, October 2015