Help me ship a package to Saudi Arabia
September 13, 2015 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever shipped something to Saudi Arabia? Do you know about organic grains? If you answered yes to either, you might be able to help me.

I have been enlisted to help someone close to me ship a package to a friend at home. Home is a remote part of KSA. The package will be about 12 kg and it will contain edible organic seeds. None of the seeds appears to be prohibited from import for personal use.

1. The easiest thing to do is to buy at the grocery store or on Amazon and then ship from Fed Ex. (Amazon won't ship these things to KSA). If we did that, how likely is it that the package get held up in customs?

2. Or do people generally use Aramex or some other specialist courier service for something like foodstuffs that could get flagged?

3. Are pre-packaged branded items more likely to reach their destination than the bulk foodstuffs we measure by the lb/kg at the grocery store and pack ourselves?

4. As an organic grains novice, I'd appreciate tips on how to find the credible brands of organic seeds/grains as well as the most nutritious varieties of sprouted barley, wheat, flax seed, and hemp seed. Thank you
posted by CtrlAltD to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Best answer: I would definitely go pre-packaged. Maybe I'll be corrected, but sprouted sounds...perishable. Send viable seeds, and he can sprout them himself pretty easily.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:13 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Prepackaged for sure --- it'll have a MUCH better chance of making it through Saudi Customs that way. Also, it's likely to take a couple weeks at least to get it there.

I used to just use the regular old USPS; everything made it eventually.
posted by easily confused at 12:57 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: TruRoots makes shelf-stable prepackaged organic sprouted quinoa (and probably other relevant stuff).
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:22 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The only question I know how to answer is this one:
3. Are pre-packaged branded items more likely to reach their destination than the bulk foodstuffs we measure by the lb/kg at the grocery store and pack ourselves?
Most definitely. Any seeds or grains that are prepackaged and labelled will most likely be delivered to Saudi Arabia.

Also, I'd personally ship with DHL or UPS.
posted by SkinsOfCoconut at 2:54 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used DHL to ship a package to Saudia Arabia (containing a bunch of Trader Joe's chocolate and various camping gear from Amazon, for my brother who is working over there as an English teacher). It was expensive, well over $200, but even just a document mailer would have been $60-something. My brother had told me to use DHL over FedEx though, and the DHL guy was very helpful at getting it packaged up in the smallest box possible and with clear labeling/the right forms filled out. This was in an area of New Jersey with a large Arab & Indian population, so, if you can find a shipper in a neighborhood that has a lot of Arabian people/stores, they will probably be able to help you better than someone at a FedEx office who has never/rarely had to do a Saudi shipment.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:57 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers. The prepackaged tip prevented a big headache. I ended up placing a big order on Amazon since no local store had every item in stock that wasn't in those big bulk containers.

oh yeah you confirm what my web research seemed to suggest: that DHL is the better option. However I get a USAA discount on the order of 30% with Fed Ex. Without any international community within a 250- mile radius, the paperwork is going to be hit and miss whichever courier we use. I'm going to suggest we send the health food item I think will cause delays in a separate package or to a neighboring country.

Thank you all. I will update when the package gets to where it's going. I'm optimistic it'll make it.
posted by CtrlAltD at 11:54 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Forgot to update.

I had trouble finding information in one place when I googled this topic. That's why I am posting detailed follow-up information.

The package made it to Saudi Arabia without a hitch. In fact, it cleared customs in less time than it took Person Close to Me to get his act together and ship the thing. Around 10 days, maybe less.

In the end, I called the FedEx in town with the best staff when I guessed it would be slow. The clerk told me that guys ship stuff to KSA all the time (Students. Of course! This is not an unusual at all here.) The clerk also predicted we'd have no problems because there was a category on the customs form for our stuff ("nonperishable food").

I made sure no nutmeg to excite the passions or "annoying noisy car horns" fell into the box. That car horn ban is a great idea, Saudi Arabia!

I expected much more of a fuss because, before I asked on Metafilter, I stopped by Office Jumbo's shipping counter. The clerk there told me that you can't ship things to Saudi Arabia. She was unconvinced by me and the other waiting customer when we both told her "Yuh, huh!" you can.


1. To ship to Saudi Arabia, go in person to a competently-staffed shipping storefront.

2. FedEx home customer telephone support for international shipping is limited to pretty much what is on the website.

3. Do not use the big box stores shipping counters for complicated orders.
posted by CtrlAltD at 3:53 PM on November 1, 2015

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