Lost in Transiliteration
January 8, 2012 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Help my package not get lost in transliteration! How do I address (Roman or Cyrillic) a package to Moscow?

I've handled preparing USPS international packages before (to Prague), and know about the customs forms and how expensive this can get. It's a small package, 1 lb., but too large for the USPS Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box and probably too small for the Medium. I am using my own box.

I don't know any Russian and I have never shipped to Russia before. This is an eBay sale and the buyer gives her address in Roman script. Should I address the package in Roman script or use Cyrillic script? Should I put both versions on the package? I've found Cyrillic converters and Google Translate online.

What about the customs form -- Roman or Cyrillic?

I live near Washington, DC. Is there a particular branch post office that you would go to for with this? (e.g. near the Department of State or Embassy Row or similar)
posted by bad grammar to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Frank's Compulsive Guide to Postal Addresses says using a Latin transliteration should be fine for the address.
posted by grouse at 8:37 PM on January 8, 2012

In the past I've written "Russia" in the Roman alphabet and the rest of the address in Russian. There's awareness of the Roman alphabet, so your package will almost certainly be delivered with no problem regardless of what you write.

I'll be happy to transcribe the address into Russian if you MeMail me.
posted by Nomyte at 8:50 PM on January 8, 2012

Use the address the buyer gave you. Exactly.
posted by caclwmr4 at 8:52 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

exactly what the buyer told you. If still unsure, ask the buyer.
posted by jacalata at 9:06 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would recommend confirming with the sendee that she wouldn't prefer DHL or another shipper which will provide international tracking and confirmation. I've experienced heartbreak using USPS for international shipments, and also trouble using the national mail services of countries of the former soviet union. Be sure the two of you have an understanding about whose responsibility it will be if you use USPS (which will transfer the shipment to the Russian mail service) and the package never arrives.

Using a Roman alphabet transliteration is fine. If you'd like it transliterated into Cyrillic, I'm also happy to help. Either way, as Nomyte states, be sure to write "RUSSIA" at the bottom of the address so our USPS knows how to route it.

Fill out the customs form in English.
posted by scrambles at 6:31 AM on January 9, 2012

I've sent packages all over the world, including Russia.
I always write the address in Roman letters, and the packages get there fine.

Any post office should be able to ship this package for you.
posted by luckynerd at 9:50 AM on January 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks. I also e-mailed a friend who has studied abroad in Russia and she said that the Roman address should work.
posted by bad grammar at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2012

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