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Old Dec 20, 06, 8:27 am   #1
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Can I mail a gift to China?

I want to send a friend in China a modestly-valued (like $50) gift. It seems like the only cost-effective way of doing this is to mail it with the US Postal Service. But in reading the rules, it says that the Chinese won't allow their citizens to receive anything of value over 100 RMB. Is that actually enforced? And what are my odds of the recipient in China actually receiving a package I mail -- is theft a serious problem?

FWIW, I regularly receive small packages from friends in China and they all seem to make it here.

Thanks for the help.
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Old Dec 20, 06, 8:46 am   #2
 
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Your experience may vary, but...

I have had terrible luck with sending regular packages to individuals in cities outside of Beijing and Shanghai. I haven't kept records, but I would guess that more than a quarter never make it at all, and that another quarter have had parts missing. I was so disappointed in this that I started using USPS Global Priority envelopes when I could and DHL when I could not. Since I made this change, I have never had a problem. The Global Priority service is quite fast and pretty reasonable, so you might consider that option if what you're mailing isn't too big.
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Old Dec 20, 06, 9:09 am   #3
 
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I've never had a problem with Express Mail (EMS) from the USPS. Every now and then I send one via Global Priority, but it takes a week longer and is usually opened/mutilated if anything of value. They don't seem to disturb EMS packages.
Make sure you have a valid postal code for whatever city your are sending it to and make sure to include a telephone number on the waybill.
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Old Dec 20, 06, 9:12 am   #4
 
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EMS is the way to go. As far as the personal limit "thing" - never heard of it before. I lived in China for a year and never had problems getting parcels.
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Old Dec 20, 06, 4:16 pm   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I went down to my local post office and they said "airmail" (within 7 days) would be about $14, and Express Mail would be about $28. Given the value of the package, I opted for "airmail." I put the value down as $10.

It's only going to Beijing. I let you know if it arrives.
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Old Dec 20, 06, 5:40 pm   #6
 
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I ship into China regularly and my best experience is with FedEx. DHL is the worst as their packages tend to be held up in cutoms longer for some reason.

What you have to be careful about is if the declared value is over a certain amount the recipeint will have to pay a duty before being allowed to pick it up. I don't know what the "majic number" is, it tends to vary from time to time.
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Old May 8, 12, 10:44 pm   #7
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<redacted>

Chinese people want stuff from other countries, and are pretty good at procuring local products on their own (they like taobao). For shipments from the US, I've had good experiences with the USPS. Sure, it takes longer than Fedex/DHL, but is far cheaper, and I haven't experienced many customs issues (just don't declare a large value).

Last edited by moondog; May 8, 12 at 11:17 pm. Reason: redacted deleted post content
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Old May 8, 12, 11:16 pm   #8
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Old May 9, 12, 6:51 am   #9
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Not surprised that this thread would get spammed.

My long-ago package did make it, but I've subsequently sent other stuff that never made it. The folks sending me stuff FROM China seem to have better luck (likely because they know what to do). At least when it comes to sending things "regular mail" from the USA, it's a crapshoot. And other services are expensive, so nominal-value gifts are tough to do.
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Old May 9, 12, 10:33 am   #10
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Sending FROM China has always been more reliable, due to the fact that outgoing international parcels must be kept open for Customs to inspect, then once approved are sealed up, forms filled out, money paid, and that's that. Except for dealing with Customs in your home country. Sending TO China involves the risk of Chinese Customs deciding they don't like what's in your parcel. Or...they like it so much they decide the contents would be better off staying with them. Sometimes Customs isn't the problem, but the local post office charged with delivery for that district. Customs regulations and limits changed for the more restrictive in August 2010 due to the number of Chinese ordering stuff from overseas (cheaper, tax avoidance) and having it sent to the mainland.

Parcels are not normally delivered to the door by China Post; normally a note is put in the mailbox and then the recipient has to go to a specific Post Office within a specific time frame to pick it up (bail it out). So anything using the US (or other country's) official postal system will connect this way. Parcels sent by DHL or FedEx or whatever will stay with that courier all the way including Customs clearance, no handoff to China Post.

In over 10 years of living in China, the only time I have ever had anything sent to me was important documents, by FedEx, and to my business address. Everything else, I either find a substitute, do without, wait for my next trip home (or to HK or Bangkok dep on item), or have a trusted person coming to China carry it back.
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Old May 9, 12, 11:08 am   #11
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An observation: We have mailed various things to China. Anything more than an ordinary letter that didn't require a signature never got there. This includes things like cards.

Since it was only a delivery signature that mattered we figured it was the local delivery guy that was the problem.
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Old May 9, 12, 11:18 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
Sending FROM China has always been more reliable, due to the fact that outgoing international parcels must be kept open for Customs to inspect, then once approved are sealed up, forms filled out, money paid, and that's that. Except for dealing with Customs in your home country. Sending TO China involves the risk of Chinese Customs deciding they don't like what's in your parcel. Or...they like it so much they decide the contents would be better off staying with them. Sometimes Customs isn't the problem, but the local post office charged with delivery for that district. Customs regulations and limits changed for the more restrictive in August 2010 due to the number of Chinese ordering stuff from overseas (cheaper, tax avoidance) and having it sent to the mainland.

Parcels are not normally delivered to the door by China Post; normally a note is put in the mailbox and then the recipient has to go to a specific Post Office within a specific time frame to pick it up (bail it out). So anything using the US (or other country's) official postal system will connect this way. Parcels sent by DHL or FedEx or whatever will stay with that courier all the way including Customs clearance, no handoff to China Post.

In over 10 years of living in China, the only time I have ever had anything sent to me was important documents, by FedEx, and to my business address. Everything else, I either find a substitute, do without, wait for my next trip home (or to HK or Bangkok dep on item), or have a trusted person coming to China carry it back.
Since our forum has gained quite a bit more mass during the past 6 years since this thread was started, I am in firm agreement with you regarding the portion of your post, which I bolded; especially, during these summer months FTers visit Beijing or Shanghai nearly every week. And, most don't mind being used as mules to transport reasonable quantities (i.e. 20 iPhones does not adhere to the "reasonable" standard) of desired items.
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Old May 9, 12, 4:56 pm   #13
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Yes, I personally would laugh at anybody (FTer or otherwise) who wanted me to carry 20 iphones. But I've certainly carted back on my trips, things like special ingredients for baker friends, antiperspirant, contact lens saline, books, a repaired electronic item, etc.
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Old May 9, 12, 6:51 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
Yes, I personally would laugh at anybody (FTer or otherwise) who wanted me to carry 20 iphones. .

The boxed phone is 5 x 7.5 x 3.5" weight .8 lb.
Should easily be able to fit 20 boxes in carryon..maybe 30.

Assuming the buyer paid for the items in advance and
also gave the traveler duty payment of 10% of the retail price
of items in china.

$10.00/box would be reasonable amount to pay just for
the airline carry over.

Fronting the purchase and attempting to smuggle in without
declaring at customs as a "favor" would be imbecilic.
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Old May 9, 12, 7:05 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moondog View Post
And, most don't mind being used as mules to transport reasonable quantities (i.e. 20 iPhones does not adhere to the "reasonable" standard) of desired items.
I kind of like the idea of flyertalk "mules" to China.

I know I'd be happy to do it for long-time flyertalkers. Alas, I think my next trip will be Xmas-time, and will first involve a 2 week journey through Southeast Asia. So "muling" seems like a bad idea -- I'd be afraid of losing the important stuff!
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