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Mailing Birthday Package

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
908 posts
42 reviews
26 helpful votes
Mailing Birthday Package

Just tried to mail a small package (less than 4#) in probably a 12"x8"x6" box. USPS quoted me $60 and handed me some customs forms. HELP ! Whats the best/cheapiest/easiest way to ship my daughter's birthday presents to her while she is studying abroad in Budapest? The contents aren't worth $60. Thanks.

6 replies to this topic
Budapest, Hungary
Level Contributor
308 posts
170 reviews
69 helpful votes
1. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

We have received a few of those type packages since moving here five years ago.

Unfortunately, we have not found an economical way to get them here. What we have found is it is slightly cheaper using a plain brown box and not the USPS flat-rate box provided at the US post office.

I do not believe there is any way around the custom forms. However, if you go to the USPS website, the forms are online and you can fill them out and take them to the post office when mailing.

Edited: 27 February 2018, 23:05
Budapest, Hungary
Level Contributor
5,244 posts
39 reviews
53 helpful votes
2. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

It's not cheap...unless you send normal post (where you can expect your stuff to get stolen) it's $60 even for a letter.

There are groups throughout the country that buy a container and fill it up. One person coordinates it as a business and essentially divide the cost. The company in Chicago ships anywhere in Romania for $10 a box plus $1 a pound. There is one in NY that ships for $45 an order and $1 a pound. This is by boat so it will take 1-2 months. Sometimes these companies will also offer air freight...which is typically a fee plus $3 a pound

Get in touch with a Hungarian, Romanian or other Central European in your area (I presume Boston) and have them help you find such a service.

Note: Europe has a 20-27% VAT on everything...this includes stuff you ship to your daughter unless it fits very specific parameters (e.g. your daughter may be able to take shipments for up to a year so long as the stuff isn't new - but she will have to show paperwork). If it doesn't meet certain criteria, she'll have to pay 27% of the value of the gift in order to pick it up if the item is valued over 20 euro.

I'm moving to Budapest and this literally is the hardest thing I had to track down - how to ship my crap. Costs anywhere from $400-$4000 for a pallet. $600 for a suitcase.

Otherwise you might want to just buy your daughter gifts from amazon.de or ebay (make sure it is shipped from the EU). There is no VAT for shipments within the EU, thus you'll be charged VAT as part of the purchase price (either german or Hungarian VAT rate...I'm not clear) then shipping is free to Hungary over a certain dollar amount. Google how to buy stuff in Hungary from Amazon.

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
908 posts
42 reviews
26 helpful votes
3. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

Thanks everyone. I think I'll hold it here until she gets home. The post office did say I could send her birthday cards for about $1 so that'll have to do. Can't see spending $60 to send $30 worth of gifts and then she has to pay taxes on it and I have to worry about whether it will actually arrive. Oh well.

Budapest, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Budapest
Level Contributor
3,437 posts
129 reviews
147 helpful votes
4. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

Hello Capiegirl,

Your such a great mom! My sweet mother sends packages often for our child and indeed the postage alone many times is likely more than the package contents.

After all the years here, we found USPS WITH TRACKING best, albeit far from cheap. The tracking is essential no matter the channel used, as packages here continue to get “lost” on occasion when dealing with the local post.

A few ideas:

1. Amazon UK or Amazon DE digital gift card

2. Apple iTunes gift card (if indeed she uses Apple).

3. You can arrange with some (a few) local restaurants to pay for a birthday meal in advance.

I wouldn’t be overly concerned with customs. They seem most interested in electronics and valuables. And when filling out the form complete the value of the item, not the price one paid.

All the best,

Jeremy

Budapest, Hungary
Level Contributor
308 posts
170 reviews
69 helpful votes
5. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

Our family frequently mails greeting cards to us; just got one today!

A regular greeting card type envelope needs three stamps or one Global stamp.

The card we received today (February 27) was mailed on February 20 from South Carolina.

No need to carry it to a clerk at the post office, just put the stamp on it and send it off.

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
908 posts
42 reviews
26 helpful votes
6. Re: Mailing Birthday Package

Jeremy, which restaurants do you think I may be able to arrange a birthday dinner?

I've already emailed her and told her she'll have to wait for her birthday gifts until her return the end of May. I will put her birthday cards in the mail tomorrow...thanks for the heads up about the three stamps and timing. Her birthday is March 12th so I've got two weeks but I did hear that it takes significant time for a package to get there. I'd love to treat her and her two housemates to a birthday dinner though!

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