General Question

Indiana_Bones's avatar

What should I know about mailing small articles to Russia?

Asked by Indiana_Bones (209 points ) August 21st, 2013

I run an Etsy shop and a Russian buyer has purchased some small ephemeral items from me (that can fit in an envelope and only be just a tiny bit bulky). I have his address in Cyrillic. The problem here is that I’ve been reading up on mailing to Russia and apparently it’s sketchy and difficult as hell, as well as absurdly expensive. And I’ve heard that corrupt customs officials will steal anything they can get their hands on assuming you pony up the exorbitant fee to ship.

So here are my questions:

1. What would be the best (and cheapest) way to mail five or six stickers and a postcard to someone in Tagnarog, Russia?

2. Do I write his name and address in Cyrillic on the envelope? Or do I write it in English? (I know the proper translation already).

3. What other caveats or tips should I be aware of?

I should also note that I have talked to the guy a few times on facebook, so he won’t be super mad if shipping takes a tad long or whatnot. He’s a nice dude.

Thanks in advance.

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3 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

1. Expect that it will be opened and inspected at least twice. Once at Kennedy Airport, where most Europe-bound packages are x-rayed and then sorted, and then also in Russia upon arrival.

2. Whether it is stolen or not is based on whether it has intrinsic value or not. (An iPhone has intrinsic value; an envelope of stickers probably does not. And if the stickers are pornographic, they will be confiscated.)

3. If you have the Cyrillic address, use it, because it is more likely to get where it is going faster.

4. If you ship first class (as envelope) it will leave the US within 5 days, but of course there is no telling how long it takes to deliver in Russia.

5. You can do Fedex or UPS and track it, but it will cost a huge bundle.

Indiana_Bones's avatar

@elbanditoroso it’s just a few cat stickers. Drawings of cats printed on label paper and glossed over with decoupage glue, and the postcard is also a picture of a cat, so nothing pornographic or Cold War Part II-igniting or anything like that. Total value is probably around $4, with no intrinsic value.

Would you recommend going the USPS route, or Fedex/UPS? Thanks!

Indiana_Bones's avatar

Question resolved. I went to the post office today and they got me squared away for cheap.

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