World Postal Guide

Country By Country Breakdown


At the standard national post office in your country, there are usually the following options when sending a parcel internationally:

  1. Standard - surface mail (by ship)
  2. Air mail - small packet
  3. Air mail - letters, printed paper
  4. Recorded / registered

1. By Surface

This is the cheapest option, and parcels are shipped across any stretches on water on the way to the destination. Avoid at all costs. Typically, a parcel will take 3 months to cross the Atlantic. If you do not put sufficient stamps on your parcel, it may end up being shipped by this method.

2. Air Mail - Small Packet

This is usually the cheapest form of sending abroad. Small packets seem to be delivered faster than other sorts of parcels (e.g. printed paper). The exact definition of a Small Packet seems to be somewhat flexible; unless your parcel is huge you should be able to ask for this rate.

3. Air Mail - Other

There are other possible tariffs, e.g. Letter, Printed Paper, but these are generally more expensive.

4. Recorded / Registered Delivery

These are also very country-dependent. Recorded deliveries are those where the recipient has to sign for it when it is delivered. Registered deliveries also usually include some sort of insurance if the delivery is lost or late.

Finally, there are other methods of sending parcels:

Federal Express ; UPS and other such parcel delivery services offer vastly increased speed, at a price. This is only worth considering for high-value items.

Customs Forms:

If you are sending a parcel out of a trading block (e.g. EU or NAFTA) you will have to complete a customs form. Most likely, this will be the CN 22 ('green form').

Mitch Vassar sensibly advises, "When I send a parcel overseas I have to denote the value of the package. You should ALWAYS mark it as a gift and keep the estimated value to a minimum. There is a chance the recipient will be charged TAXES on the item."


Royal Mail currently has a monopoly on sending small items from UK.

Sending to UK

Country overview: the mail service is generally honest and efficient; very few parcels fail to get delivered. It is only advisable to register parcels if they are very valuable or important.

Sending from UK

Within UK, parcels can be sent either by 1st Class (should arrive anywhere in UK within 1 day) or 2nd class (should arrive anywhere in UK within 3 days). Any parcels must be under 60g to be priced at the standard rates (currently 27p 1st Class and 19p Second Class).

For sending parcels abroad, if it is under 2kg (most will be), then your parcel will probably qualify for the Small Packet rate. Both Airmail and Surface Mail are available; always choose the former option! Full details can be found on the Royal Mail website, including all prices.

Parcels can be 'registered' by using International Recorded, International Registered, and Swiftair (see Royal Mail site); however these services are not always available when sending to some countries.

If the parcel is over 2kg, you will have to use Parcelforce

United States Postal Service (USPS) is the most commonly used company.

DigitalNIRVANA Supremo Mitch Vassar has kindly shared his thoughts on posting items from and within USA.

Posting to USA

Speed of delivery seems to be highly variable, but very very few reports have been received of items going missing.

Posting from USA

"In the US, there a a number of choices when sending domestically.

"Registered: Means that every postal employee that handles your parcel will sign for it ane be held responsible. Always send via registered mail if you are sending a significant amount of cash (which you have to do sometimes).

"Certified: The recipient will have to sign for the parcel before they get it. You can have their signature mailed back to you.

"Priority: Pay a premium but the parcel gets there in 2-3 days. For another dollar you can get delivery confirmation (not a signature) that can be tracked over the web. You also get a nice box to send with.

"First Class: The most economical and nearly as fast as priority.

"Insured: If it's VERY valuable, go ahead and insure something, it's cheap. If you send via registered mail there isn't much of a need for this.

"Overseas: I send via airmail (always). If it's FRANCE or a country with a dodgy postal system, I'll do registered as well (it's slower). You can only insure an overseas parcel up to 40 or $60 dollars... I don't bother. For top-notch commercial bootlegs I trade, I usually go with priority with delivery confirmation. If it's VERY valuable, I'll do registered. If it's a box full of discs like Cory and I used to send each other, I do registered and insured."

Special thanks to Mitch for dispensing his wisdom.

NORWAY, for customs check

Pennyroyal 3 owner Anders Leirvik has kindly detailed everything you could ever want to know about Norway.

"In general, "Posten" (which means "The Mail") is very reliable and fast, one of the best in the world. If there are problems, it is never the Norwegian Postal Service's fault (unless it is related to customs), but the other country(ies) in question. As far as I know, they have monopoly on sending letters and parcels inside of and out of Norway.

Sending to Norway

"The Norwegian Postal Service is very reliable. You only need to register parcels if they are very valuable. After January 2001, a new company was put in charge of distributing the incoming mail to the regional mail stations, and they got a bit slower as of this. Mail from USA/Canada can be very quick, but it can also take up to three weeks. Mail from Australia is very quick, 6-7 days. I have only had one parcel sent from South America, and it took less than a week. I don't know for Asia and Africa. From anywhere in Europe, it takes 2-3 days, larger parcels may take almost a week.

"When sending a parcel to Norway, remember to include a green customs sticker, and set the value low, and cross the "gift" box. The customs are very strict. If a larger parcel (larger than a 7" or two) is sent without this green customs sticker, it can take a week longer.

Sending from Norway

"There is really one way, and that is by air mail. If you send money, use a brown envelope and cover the money well inside. You don't need to register if you send to America/Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea, but some Asian countries can be doubtfull. Registering cost $4, and it covers up to around $550. I have only experienced problems two times (out of a hundred letters I've sent), I once sent a letter to Australia, and it took 19 days, and I sent a letter to Singapore, and after one month, it still hasn't arrived.

"But it is very reliable, and usually quick. Price list for A Prioritaire, prices in NOK, $1 = 9 NOK.

Weight, gram, up to: Norway Scandinavia Europe Rest of world
20 5.50 7.00 9.00 10.00
50 8.50 11.00 13.50 20.00
100 11.00 14.00 18.00 30.00
350 22.00 27.00 45.00 62.00
1000 55.00 75.00 100.00 150.00
2000 120.00 150.00 186.00 260.00

"As I've said, you don't have to register unless it's very valuable, or if the country sounds a bit suspicious. Registering costs an extra $4, or 36 NOK. There are also some really quick services, but they cost loads, from $30-1000. Check for other options."

Thanks again to Anders.


Andrew Silver has kindly agreed to divulge his wisdom.

Sending to Canada

"Canada Post is pretty efficient, I haven't really had a problem with them, the one time a package went missing, it was the USPS that did it. Here is the format for addressing when you send:

Firstname Lastname
11111 Main Street
Anytown BC (two letter abbreviation for province) V5V 5V5 (postal code - note the postal code contains letters and numbers.)

"Registering is not necessary when sending here, unless its something of high value. If you fill out a green customs sticker, always mark gift, and keep the value low. I once had a package sent to me that wasn't marked gift, plus they over inflated the value, so I was required to pay $8.00 in tax. Needless to say, it was sent right back to sender!

"Cash sent to me has always made it, just make sure its hidden well. If you are sending a lot of cds, always try to fit in an envelope that will hold them, if you send in any size box, invariably, I will have to wait extra for it to arrive, as it will go to a local postal oulet instead, and then they mail me a card telling me there is something waiting for me to pick up."

Sending from Canada

"When sending to other countries from Canada, try and get to know your local postal outlet, especially one located in a drugstore or convenience store. I now receive better rates then I would if going to Canada Post post office, thanks to getting to know the people that work there and sending packages as often as I have. Canada Post offers padded envelopes especially for cds, take advantage of them.

"Canada Post also has a very wide range of prices and rates, actually too many, I find."

For sending in Canada, the following rates are available:
Sending to the USA:
Courier & Parcel Services:
Sending Internationally:
Courier & Parcel Services:

All the rates are available via links on the Canada Post website.

Thanks again to Andrew for penning this entry for us.


Rolf Fassbind has kindly taken the time to fill us in with the details from this mountainous country.

Sending to Switzerland

Country overview: the mail service is generally honest and efficient; very few parcels fail to get delivered. It is only advisable to register parcels if they are very valuable or important.

Sending from Switzerland

Priority: Pay a premium but the parcel gets there in 2-3 days (Europe) or 5-6 days (overseas). (always use this method for trading!)

Economy: Sometimes as fast as Priority (rare!), but most of the time it takes ages (2-3 weeks within Europe... never tried this method overseas). Only use this method when sending something within Switzerland.

Registered: Means that every postal employee that handles your parcel will sign for it ane be held responsible. It's recommended to send via registered mail if you are sending something very valuable or important.

Prices: Go to,1727,882,00.html to calculate how much your parcel is going to cost.

Thanks again to Rolf.


Morten Madsen is your guide, let the tour begin:

"The Danish postal service (Post Danmark) currently boasts the title of the fastest postal service within the EU. In the near future Post Danmark will have to handle competition, as an American owned postal service will open up a chain of postal offices and start offering mail handling here as well. All information given below is solely based on Post Danmark.

Sending to Denmark

"Lost mail is a rare phenomenon in the Danish postal service. Customs can cause problems if packages are not labelled with a custom sticker filled out with both content and value of the package. Especially (but not only) when buying original bootlegs it can be a good idea to ask the seller to mark the package as "gift" and "used CDs" as customs and taxes otherwise can charged by the authorities.

Sending from Denmark

"All mail to abroad should be sent as airmail (a.k.a. Prioritaire). To reduce postage CDs can be sent as a letter instead of as a package. A letter must not be longer than 60 cm and it's width + length + hight must not exceed 90 cm. Letters can be insured or registered, but unless the content is of very high value this is generally not used. Rules and postage rates can be found here:

"When sending within the country most mail will arrive within a day. Within the EU it'll typically take 3 days. The time for the rest of the world varies, but from my experience it's very rare that more than a week pass when sending to USA or Australia."

Thanks to Morten for his assistance.

La Poste (meaning The Mail in french) has a monopoly on sending small items (letters) from France.

LNCU President Ben Martigny has emailed us his thoughts.

Sending to France
Country overview:

Some traders, for example the vociferous Mr Vassar, have denigrated the French postal service following the poor handling of their packages, which resulted in the contecnts being crushed. Others note the large variation in delivery times across the country for incoming parcels: sending to Paris seems much more efficient than sending elsewhere in France.

Ben puts it all in perspective:

"The mail service is generally honest and efficient; very few parcels fail to get delivered. I have been trading for 7 years and only 2 packages ever got lost. (Please note that I never put my name and return address on any packages I send, and that I rarely put enough stamps on them!)

"It is only advisable to register parcels if they are very valuable or important because it gives a lot of trouble to the recipient to receive it if he is not home when the postman calls: the recipient would have to go to the post office, queue, wait for one hour or so because they keep the package there, and sometimes that's how they disappear.

"NOTE: Try to put all your cds in an envelope which can fit through a letterbox. If not, the recipient will have to go to the post office to fetch the package (the more chaotic travel since you have to deal with post officers etc.)"

Sending from France

Ben also guides us through the various categories of shipment in France.

"Priority: Pay a premium but the parcel gets there in 2-3 days (Europe) or 5-6 days (overseas).

"Economy: Sometimes as fast as Priority (not that rare !), a really good choice. I always use this method to send stuff in Europe. To AVOID with big packages like magazines etc you want to send to the USA ! (it would take a month !)

"Registered: means that every postal employee that handles your parcel will sign for it and be held responsible. It's recommended to send via registered mail if you are sending something very valuable or important.

"NOTE: your French recipient may have to pay taxes, always write a low value and always write "gift" and "used CDs" on the customs declaration.

"Prices: go to to calculate how much your parcel is going to cost."

Thanks again to Ben for this detailed description.


Paolo Varesi is your guide.

"The Italian mail system is very efficient, I've sent and received many packages from any corner of Europe and every one has been successful."

Sending to Italy:

"In Italy mail is delivered only in the morning and letter boxes are quite small, so if the package is big the mail man rings at your door and warns you to take your package, if there's no-one at home the package is taken to the post office and after 3/4 days you receive a postcard to notify you of your package, however if you make a big trade or the package is valuable, it is highly recommended to use a registered post or, whatever, a sending method that allows the recipient to receive the package even if he's not at home on the day it arrives."

Sending from Italy:

"It is highly recommended to avoid using normal mail when the package is big or the contents are valuable. There are just two sending ways that any serious trader should use to send from Italy:

Prioritary mail (Posta Prioritaria): "It's not expensive and very quick, the package arrives the following working day for sending inside Italy and within 4 days for sending across Europe, and longer for overseas destinations. Moreover, it's rare for a package to get lost."

Posta Raccomandata con avviso di ricevimento (Raccomandata A/R): "It's much more expensive and slower than prioritary mail but it is 100% safe, moreover it is a registered means so you can check on the progress by its code or through the post website or calling the number you'll find on that site (free call). When package will be received by the recipient, you will be sent a postcard signed by the recipient which notes the date of delivery."

Thanks again to Paolo for taking the time to write this introduction.