International couriers: a waybigg conundrum
November 29, 2017 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I have a letter-sized, unaddressed envelope in Toronto that needs to be couriered to me in New York. The shipper is a receptionist who was instructed to pass it to Fedex (therefore, the envelope is out of the hands of the very busy sender). After speaking to Fedex, I realize that the envelope needs to have affixed on the outside an address label AND 3 signed invoices. Which means I'd need a mega envelope, a transparent pouch and a live signature.

Is there a courier who will pick up the envelope as it is, with at most a regular address label attached? I realize Fedex Express can bypass the invoices, but I need to have multiple items couriered this week and would prefer not to.

Maybe DHL, Purolator, UPS or something else I'm missing?
posted by thesockpuppet to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Getting things ready for fedex is like a primary job for an admin person. Are you sure they haven’t gotten things sorted already?
posted by rockindata at 3:43 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

The letter is about a personal matter. The receptionist is at a large firm.
posted by thesockpuppet at 4:03 PM on November 29, 2017

The driver should havd the supplies you need.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:24 PM on November 29, 2017

If you can make I Fedex account, then Fedex can usually bring a big cardboard envelope to put the normal envelope in themselves. The receptionist may well have a legal requirement to sign for any International Courier, but again, I would call Fedex and try to straighten it all out on the phone. I've done something very similar, and while the person who handed it over did need to sign the prefilled form, everything else was sorted.
posted by frumiousb at 4:51 PM on November 29, 2017

I (temporarily) work in a warehouse that ships international all the time. If the receptionist has the software for FedEx or UPS on her desk, the label and the three copies of the customs forms should be setup to print out. The signature on the three copies is not a big deal, it is just the person who is shipping. We ship UPS international. As noted, when they call FedEx for a pickup, ask for the driver to deliver the supplies. I am not sure if, when you say 3 invoices, if you mean the FedEx slip that has all the copies or a customs declaration form in triplicate. If it is the former, again, the driver will be able to set up the receptionist. UPS too. W/UPS, they provide a plastic clear envelope that sticks onto the package for the 3 customs forms. Put that on one side of the envelope and the address label on the other side.

I would call the receptionist, ask them to sort this out, give them a cc # to charge and send them a $10 starbucks card as thanks.

Now a little offbeat thought. Do you know anyone in Buffalo? Possibly, they could go to Toronto and pick them up and fedex them to you from Buffalo. Depending on what it is and if the packages are time sensitive, if you can have the receptionist hold all of them until they
posted by AugustWest at 4:55 PM on November 29, 2017

Or, print out all the labels and forms the receptionist will need for the deliveries and FedEx them prefilled out to them. Then it is just put the right labels on the right packages sort of thing. Include a small gift card with the labels as thanks.
posted by AugustWest at 4:56 PM on November 29, 2017

I used to be an admin - it would be very odd for an admin to refuse to, say, print out a pdf and sign paperwork, even if it's not strictly related to their job (although you need to arrange payment and should try to make this easy for them). Even if this person doesn't ship with FedEx, at a large firm, they have someone in the building who does and can help them sort this out. Can you contact the receptionist directly?
posted by momus_window at 4:56 PM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

There's a shipping desk quip about the sales guy who comes downstairs and says "someone in another country wants you to pick up something on his desk and send it to us." Sorry.

What you need is a receptionist or shipping clerk at the other end who knows how to send international packages. You must provide them with clear detailed data of all of your receiver information, including phone contact. If you have a fedex account number, make it clear to bill you the receiver (shipping clerks get hassled by management if they bill the wrong party. If you don't have an account, you should make it really clear with their boss if you want them to pay for it.)
posted by ovvl at 6:37 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can create the Toronto to US AWB on the FedEx site, print it as a PDF and email the PDF to the admin.

If the admin does not have the proper envelope she can obtain one from courier. Admin puts your envelope in the Fedex envelope and adds air waybill. Unless the shipment contains something other than documents and the value exceeds $800 an invoice is not required. Few shipments with a value that does not exceed $2,500 USD require an invoice for Canada to US TRANSPORT.

The only problem i can forsee would be if an Canada export declaration is require which I believe would leave you at the mercy of the Toronto admin. Probably not an issue for a document or other low value shipment.
posted by Carbolic at 11:04 PM on November 29, 2017

Thanks y'all. I ended up getting it sent to the mailroom where I emailed them a prepaid label and invoice and small gift card, and FedEx picked it up. Fedex International Ground strangely requires a commercial invoice for everything, even non-commercial items. Also, FedEx only provides envelopes if it's an Express Service.

The best tip was the gift card one (I sent another to a different non-enthusiastic sender, for the same task). That really spurs people to do stuff I think.
posted by thesockpuppet at 6:40 PM on November 30, 2017

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