Thursday, December 18, 2008

Postal Service in Italy

Have you ever had to deal with Italian postal service? Have you ever had your mail or packages lost and had no idea how to retrieve them? Are you unsure of what you can or cannot send to and from Italy? All these questions come back to haunt us during the holiday season.

I try to avoid as much as possible the Italian post office. I only go there occasionally to pay bills and then we keep our distance from eachother. However now and then I do not have a choice if I want to send packages to my family back home in the United States. I only discovered yesterday, to my delight, that it is much simpler and cheaper to send things by priority mail in big padded envelopes than to send the same things in a package. I can send up to one kilo of articles in a big padded envelope from Italy to the United States and it costs a little over 8 euros (about $11). You can send pretty much anything that is legal like foods, clothing, books. Whereas if you send a package the same weight costs about 40 euros ($56) and there is a long list of items you cannot send.

Receiving packages in Italy is always a mystery until you actually hold the package in your hand. I have had such bad experiences with this scenario. Several years ago, my family had sent me prenatal vitamins for my pregnancy that were stopped in customs for 3 months because they were unsure if they were pharmaceuticals. (You cannot send pharmaceuticals.) After my obgyn wrote and signed a declaration saying they were vitamins and after I paid an additional 130 euros to get them out of customs, I received them. If you don't do these two requirements, they destroy the package or send them back to the sender for a fee. Suffice to say I received the vitamins days prior to my going to the USA to deliver the baby!

Last year was the last straw. My good intentioned family sent Christmas gifts to my boys and to us that we never received. We are convinced there is some family in Italy where the son is wearing a toddler tshirt reading "Obama for President" and the mother is wearing a nice new designer purse.

I have also received birthday cards that are torn and open, with missing money or checks. We now unfortunately or not do not do much gift exchanging by mail. We have pretty much resolved the problem by sending eachother flowers. Long live internet and credit cards!

1 comment:

Krystal - said...

1. I just found your blog and I am intrigued and amazed at how you just packed up and took off to Italy. I'm definitely going to read up on your experiences, as I dream of one day being as empowered as you and taking off and live abroad.

2. I'm wondering if there is an online site that has the list of the items that you cannot send from Italy. My boyfriend and his mom have been on a Mediterranean cruise for the past 3 weeks that ends up in Rome. He's acquired so many items that he wants to bring back to the states, and thought that sending them back would be a better option than trying to figure out how to fly back with everything.

The Internet connection is so scattered on the cruise so I've been given the ever-so-glorious task of trying to find out the best way to ship items back to the US from Rome, including how much it would cost and what you can and cannot send. Although I've had some difficulty finding information, I'm still determined to help out – even if my motivation might be a little selfish as many of the items are presents for me. 

This blog post has already helped put things in perspective, and any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.