International Shipping for Pamphlets
February 6, 2019 5:41 AM   Subscribe

So my Kickstarter was funded, but now there is a growing demand for international shipping for the physical rewards. The USPS reps I've spoken to have been less than helpful and I've not received a consistent answer as to what constitutes a 'Package' and 'Large Envelope' - but I have a plan so cunning you can exsanguinate a cow with it that I'd like to run by you, especially people familiar with the Royal Mail...

All the rewards take the shape of zines (A5/5.5"x8.5" size) with one being 64 pages (the main project) and at least one 16 page stretch goal add on with more being unlocked during the campaign.

I took a sample bundle to the local USPS and the two people at the counter could not agree as to whether or not it counted as a package or envelope. I suspect if I try a different packaging format, I'll get a different answer - rather than stacking zines on top of each other and bundling, I'd put them into two stacks next to each other in a 8.5"x11" envelope to help reduce confusion. Do you think this would help?

My Cunning Plan
That said, it turns out I will likely be in the UK in August when my deliverables are due. So my cunning plan is to bring the packets all ready to mail and then mail them there. Would this work? How much of a hassle is the Royal Mail to deal with? How much can I prepare the packs ahead of time? Like, could I print postage at home or should I pick up stamps there?

International shipping from the US is pants-on-fire expensive and I'd like to both reduce the cost for my backers and the risk for me. I've spoken to other Kickstarter creators who got screwed over by international shipping, so I'm super wary and really appreciate any help or advice you can offer.
posted by robocop is bleeding to Work & Money (6 answers total)
In my experience Royal Mail post offices are fine to deal with for UK or international deliveries, depending when/where you go there might be a big queue as a lot of post offices have been closed down (so maybe avoid like a town centre post office on a weekend afternoon or at lunchtime during the week).
The Royal Mail website (linked above) is pretty simple to use to figure out postage costs ahead of time, as long as you know the weight and measurements of the package.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:51 AM on February 6, 2019

Put them in addressed padded envelopes in the US and post them in the UK, sure, if the cost of the extra luggage to take them over is worth it. Make sure your envelopes and weight fit the requirements for what I suspect will turn out to be Large Letter postage.

I would NOT purchase postage until you are standing at a postal counter.

It is a better, clearer experience than dealing with the USPS for sure.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 AM on February 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

As noted above everything you should need in dealing with the Royal Mail to ship internationally should be on their website. Depending on where and exactly what you're sending you could get away with a printed paper rate.

You can also pre-purchase (and print) postage at home, but this is a very time limited option (usually expires within a day or two) so probably wouldn't take the risk if you're not quite sure when you could post them.

Also note that the additional expense of tracking items to overseas is a bit of a con/waste of time as the tracking is usually only until it leaves UK shores! I'd stick with standard airmail.
posted by car01 at 6:09 AM on February 6, 2019

If you have the details of each package (size/weight/address) you should be able to buy postage and shipping labels online, print them at home and then (assuming they fit), just pop them in the nearest post box. You don't even need to go into the post office unless they're too big for the post box or you have so many that you fill it up! Unfortunately online postage is only valid until the end of the following working day so depending on when you're traveling, you'd probably have to print them when you arrive in the UK (if you buy on the Friday, you have until the following Monday to post)
posted by missmagenta at 6:30 AM on February 6, 2019

Keep in mind that on any plane trip, getting your luggage back intact or at all are not guaranteed. Is there a reason why you couldn't mail them before going to the UK? It also seems like there's a risk of something going wrong in mailing, which might be easier dealt with using your native post office.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:39 AM on February 6, 2019

The main reason to mail them from the UK to European destinations is saving $10-$15 dollars per packet, which means I can make the reward tier more affordable to backers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:42 AM on February 6, 2019

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