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Christmas deliveries made easy

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It is that time of year. For those of us with loved ones around the world, the challenge comes not only in choosing an appropriate Christmas gift, but in packing it and sending it to ensure it gets there on time. Make sure your Christmas freight is as safe as Santa's by following these packaging tips:

Check the customs requirements

This is especially important. At this time of year, lots of people will ship to countries they don’t usually ship to, and will most likely be sending goods they don’t normally send as well. Yummy Christmas treats such as foods, wines and other raw materials may actually not be accepted in the country you’re sending to. Personal alcohol to the US is actually banned and customs and quarantine regulations will prevent the entry of most foodstuffs to the UK and Japan. The religious beliefs of the country you’re sending to may also mean certain gifts aren’t allowed. To avoid disappointment, the best thing to do is to check with your logistics provider about the customs requirements of the country before you seal the box.

Check the transit time

Transit times can vary between 24-72 hours, depending on the customs requirements of the country you’re sending to. The best thing to do is check with your shipper the transit time between your postcode and the postcode you are delivering to.

Never send a 'gift'

Of course when we’re sending a Christmas gift, it is natural to want to keep the contents a surprise for the recipients. However, when you’re completing the airway bill, it isn’t acceptable to describe the contents as a 'gift'. You do have to provide a full breakdown of what is being sent. If you’re sending a Christmas hamper and the full breakdown of goods won’t fit on the airway bill, you can put 'Christmas hamper' as the description and then state 'see attached invoice'. On the proforma invoice, you must detail exactly what you are sending, for example; one cotton shirt, three DVD movies, five music CDs, two comic magazines, etc.

Consider duties and taxes

Countries around the world will charge differing duties and taxes depending on what is entering the country. As the shipper, it is imperative that you state on the airway bill whether you wish to send the shipment as 'Deliveries Taxes Paid' (DTP) or 'Delivery Taxes Unpaid' (DTU). If you send your gifts as DTU, the person you are sending to will have to pay duties and taxes on the shipment. In most cases, your logistics provider will be unable to advise on what the duties and taxes will be in differing countries.

Pack your gifts properly

Choose the size of the package according to its content. Under-filled boxes could collapse. Also, if the package is under-filled, your shipments may volume out and end up costing you more to send. Overloaded boxes may burst. You should always use high quality materials to pack your shipments. Although the Christmas wrapping you had done in the store may look pretty, it may not be suitable for shipping. Your gift will go through auto-sort machines, re-weight machines and will be packed with other shipments in containers before it reaches your loved ones. You want to pack it in such a way (with cushioning material) to give it the best chance of reaching the recipient in perfect condition.

Write the address clearly

This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how often this can be overlooked. The address must be written on the airway bill in English and in full. Include the street number, street name, suburb, province, state, country and postcode. When sending gifts, bulky items that need to be signed for, it is easier to send to a business address to ensure delivery.

Some Don'ts

When packing your gifts this year, please don’t:

  • Use fabric bags or cloth to pack your gifts; use durable cushioning material durable.
  • Over-seal your package. All packages can be opened by Customs, they are authorised to inspect if they see fit to do so.
  • Use cellophane or rope to seal your shipment - it won’t hold in transit. Instead use industrial type tape
  • Consider 'fragile' or 'handle with care' labels as substitutes for careful packing. Most automated machinery utilised to transport your gifts won't pick this up. Instead, please ensure your gifts are appropriately packed to protect against damage.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure all of your family, wherever they are, have a very Merry Christmas. -Gary Edstein is the  senior vice president of DHL Express

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