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Sending merchandise via international mail? Think again.

Customs declaration form

I found myself in a bizarre situation yesterday trying to mail a single disc to the EU.  I was informed by a grumpy attendant at my local Australian Post Office that new restrictions on sending merchandise means that Economy International Air Mail due to COVID-19 is no longer possible. Repeat, no longer possible  where it was possible just the day before.

So what's the alternative?  I was told that the minimum charge for mailing merchandise in a padded envelope (weighing a mere 44g) was now AUD$26.50. That's nearly a 10-fold increase, making it completely unviable to legitimately and correctly flag a parcel with a customs declaration.  I was even shown the alert on their screen to process the item.

I left disgruntled with my letter still in hand.

Not willing to be so easily defeated, I went to another nearby Post Office to see if the story was the same, or whether the demeanor of my assistant was the real problem. The friendlier chap at Post Office #2 immediately offered a surprising suggestion; throw away the customs declaration and send it as a plain letter. A compact disc after all is indeed just a "document".

So my disc is off and away to the EU.

An X-ray will confirm that the contents are harmless, but without a customs declaration, I'm concerned that there is no guarantee of delivery.

I appreciate that opportunities to send international mail now are squeezed by an almost complete absence of commercial passenger flights, but this massive increase in mailing costs will hurt even more businesses and individuals trying to maintain an income selling merchandise during this crisis.

My dilemma is whether I continue to risk sending off discs into the 'black hole' of international mailing containers never to be seen or heard of for 12 months, or whether I pull these items from sale altogether. Time will tell.