Postal System - mail routes
July 30, 2006 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Postal service - how does a letter travel from Canada to Namibia - via Europe? Does it go to one country in Africa, and then to Namibia. I have looked everywhere, UPU etc, but cannot find an answer. Is there a directory of physical postal routes? Thanks! BB

My aunt claims that we send her mail but it is stolen in some African country before it reaches her in Namibia. Any ideas?
posted by bright77blue to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Well, as a former Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, I can attest that Nampost sucks. It's just as likely that it's getting stolen in Namibia before it reaches her, frankly...

Sorry I can't answer the question directly. The rumor among volunteers was that our mail was traveling via Iraq, but that always seemed very unlikely to me. If you want, I have a kind of general-pupose list of suggestions for increasing the likelihood of mail making it to someone in Namibia. Is it a letter or a package?
posted by handful of rain at 3:41 PM on July 30, 2006

This is a link to the USPS country page for Namibia, and I assume something similar could be found in Canada Post's Web site. 95% of international mail moves by contracted airline carrier shipment, with as little handling as possible for cost reasons. I'm guessing Canada-->Heathrow-->Namibia is the physical route, as that's the lowest air mileage connection I can see easily. I doubt the mail is being routinely stolen, but it is quite possible that it is being rejected on customs paperwork problems, if it looks at all commercial.

I doubt you'll get a lot of insight into the mechanics of international physical mailing in these post 9/11 times, with just a casual inquiry, for obvious reasons. You could probably pay a bit more, and have your letters marked for return receipt, or some such acknowledgement service.
posted by paulsc at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2006

If I was living on $0 a week in Namibia, I too might be tempted to steal interesting-looking mail. (And Namibia is by no means the most difficult place to live in Africa.)

From my experiences elsewhere, the answer is to use another carrier like FedEx and not ordinary mail. And people can rent mailboxes in other countries which will parcel up a week's worth of mail and FedEx (or whatever) the lot as one package. Yes, these solutions cost real money, so most correspondence needs to be done by email.
posted by Idcoytco at 2:42 AM on July 31, 2006

Idcoytco: FYI, you have to rent a mailbox in Namibia. There's no home delivery of mail, at least for the vast majority of the country, so the people stealing it are, for the most part, Nampost employees or workers in the customs places that process it when it enters the country.

¥ou're right about using Fed Ex (or at least certified mail). However, depending on how remote you are in Namibia, you might not be able to get it sent to the most convenient (read, least inconvenient) location.
posted by handful of rain at 7:18 AM on July 31, 2006

(And just to apologize if I sounded snarky, my frustrations with Nampost are because Namibia, as any other country, needs certain key pieces of infrastructure to be successful, a reliable way of mailing things being one of those. That's the main reason I was so frustrated with Nampost, not because I got X, Y or Z sent from America and stolen before it reached me.)
posted by handful of rain at 7:37 AM on July 31, 2006

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