Russia Post - they deliver?
August 30, 2011 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Can I rely on Russian post or any courier service to deliver a small gift to just outside of Moscow?

So I've just returned from a stay in Russia with distant relatives. The trip was great, they were great, and I want to send a present as a small token of thanks. The present will probably be a few books (e.g. an English-Russian dictionary that got a lot of use) and maybe something else.

However, Russian Post has a checkered reputation at best. See here, here and here. They live outside in Moscow region, where it seemed like the population might have been running ahead of the infrastructure. While there was a mailbox on their frontdoor, I never saw any evidence of mail actually arriving or any post vans.

Other salient facts:

- I live in the UK, but will probably be ordering the goods over the web

- I'd like them to get the gift within a month, before they go travelling.

In summary:

- Trust Russia post or not?

- Is there an alternative?
posted by outlier to Travel & Transportation around Moscow, Russian Federation (7 answers total)
For work, I sent a package via DHL to a client in Ouagadougou earlier in the week and it got there fine in about 5 days, from Boston. Their global express service is not cheap but it is very reliable.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:35 AM on August 30, 2011

In Russia people generally pick up packages at the post office. That being said, I wouldn't send anything that you actually want to arrive via post. You're better off sending it with someone or asking them if they have access to DHL or something. Maybe at someone's office?
posted by k8t at 5:37 AM on August 30, 2011

Do not trust the Russian post. You have a significant chance that the empty package will be delivered. Disclaimer: (1) I'm Russian (2) I have an experience with what I'm describing.
posted by avysk at 6:23 AM on August 30, 2011

k8t and avysk. I'm not Russian and haven't lived in Russia, but lived in Romania for several years. The system there was as k8t describes; a little slip comes to your house that says you have a packet, then you go to the post office at the required time, stand in line, get your box, watch them open it and leaf through the contents, and possibly get charged duties. For me it never got so bad that I received empty boxes, but I knew several people in my time there that had things that never turned up, or turned up months late. (There were also horror stories from the Communist days when half the packet's contents would get taken by customs officers or suchlike, but at least in RO that doesn't seem to happen anymore.)

I can ask some Russian friends (though their family is in St. Petersburg, not Moscow) how they do it, but I'd say the best bet is to try to find a third party who is travelling to the area and is willing to take the stuff for you. Is there a Russian community around you? MeFites going to Moscow? Couchsurfers heading out that way? Maybe even write to a podcast, like Amateur Traveller, and see if they would put a call out to anyone who might be on their way to where you're going and would be willing to at least meet someone at a coffee shop to hand the stuff over. Get creative, you might come up with something.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 6:39 AM on August 30, 2011

Anecdata: I recently sent out an item I sold on eBay to the buyer in Russia. Just regular mail, not registered, not insured. I got word a week later that it was delivered just fine.
posted by monospace at 9:40 AM on August 30, 2011

You can also call DHL to ask them for a quote and confirmation that they'll actually deliver to the named address.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:35 AM on August 30, 2011

From my friend with family in St. Petersburg:

I do indeed suggest a courier, not the postal system. Postal system wont even register mail to Russia at all any more. Couriers do fine, in my experience. O the customs forms have the parcel worth almost nothing, and list as a gift.

posted by the luke parker fiasco at 3:23 PM on August 30, 2011

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