Hi, in an effort to share infomation about shipping costs, I've compiled some info that includes some links to the information at the Post Office and also the cost of sending my first four packages to South Africa.

I found the shipping information at the USPS (United States Postal Service) - http://www.usps.com/
International Mail Categories

The two that seem to apply for our purposes are (1) Priority Mail International - Flat-rate boxes and (2) First-Class Mail International - Large Envelopes (Flats) and Packages

This link goes to the info about the Priority Mail Flat Rate box rates -International Mail: flat box rates

For the medium size box (provided by the Post Office) $41.95
For the large sixe box (provided by the Post Office) $53.95

The prices reflect the recent rate hike. You can stuff the box FULL, but the maximum weight limit is 20 pounds. Both boxes are similar in size to the boxes that I normally use to send things via the First Class International rate.

Remember to package your squares in ZipLock or other plastic bags and squeeze as much air out as you can, also mark the outside of the boxes with NO COMMERCIAL VALUE and FOR CHARITY. The customs form should say $0 value (although my Post Office insists on entering a $1 value).

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I've been keeping track of the things I've sent since I joined the K-A-S group on Ravelry.

All of these items were shipped via First Class International rate, from the US in boxes that I provided.

Box #, total weight, items shipped, total cost
#1 - 1 lb. +1 oz. (9 wool squares + some yarn) - cost $11.98
#2 - just under 2 lbs. (16 squares + 11 hats) - cost $16.99
#3 - 1 lb., 1.2 oz. (6 squares & 6 hats) - cost $11.98
#4 - 2 lbs. 6.7 oz.(12 squares + 6 youth-adult sized hats) - cost $20.33


I hope more people will add to this thread!

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Hi Anne, I agree that it would be helpful to have a thread for each country because the rules/regulations appear to be significantly different.

There doesn't appear to be a distinction between air/surface mail when sending things from the US, and I'm not sure how the boxes traveled (by air or by boat). I do know that the first two packages arrived safely in 10 days or less because they showed up on the first list of packages received, and I'm hopeful the others will show up on the next list. It was very reassuring to know the first two had safely arrived!

The boxes I used were roughly the same size as the boxes provided for the (US) Priority Mail-Flat Rate category. The boxes I sent were filled almost to capacity. I usually send a combination of hats and squares, and listed the amounts above. The adult hats weigh roughly the same as 2 or 3 squares. I'm sure I used more ZipLock bags than most people use, because some of the squares were a blend, some 100% wool, and some of the hats got individually packaged in small ZipLock bags.

The First Class International category (US) seems comparable to the Canadian small packet surface mail rate. I was happy to know that my first 2 boxes arrived in about 10 days, especially considering that it can take that long to send things from the East coast to the West, never leaving the United States! Most of the time, I'm very impressed by the speed of the mail, but had an envelope arrive from the next state that took 10+ days to arrive. I think it took the scenic route. ;-)

LOL about your theory re taping wine corks to the packages before pushing them off in the general direction of South Africa. Bon Voyage!

Here are the sizes of the Priority Mail (flat rate) boxes

Medium size box
11" X 8.5" X 5.5" or 12” x 12” x 5-1/2”

Large 12” x 12” x 5-1/2”

In the US, you can order these on-line (and have them delivered to your house). I hope this link works: Flat Rate boxes

I did some knitting for the Save the Children group earlier this year. All mail went to a NYC (New York city) address here in the US, and they shipped things along to the final destination. I'm not sure exactly how, but presumably in bulk. Sandy, if you're reading this, it might be worth contacting someone from that organization.
Oops, a minor correction on the box sizes for the Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes from the US.

The medium size box is available in two sizes: 11" X 8.5" X 5.5" OR 11-7/8" x 3-3/8" x 13-5/8" ($41.95 to ship)

The 12” x 12” x 5-1/2” is the large size box. ($53.95 to ship)
It's my understanding that you have to use the USPS Priority Mail/Flat Rate box to send things that way, but hopefully someone will correct me if that's not the case..

The First Class International Rate (from the US) still seems like the best way to ship (at least for me), but I'd love to know if someone has found a better way to send things from the US.
Package #5 is now "in the mail," weighing 2 lb., 2.7 oz. - cost $18.66 (sent by First Class International rate). The same size box would cost approx. twice that if I had used the Priority Mail International, Flat Box Rate.

I asked if there was a “sea mail” option from the US, and was told that USPS discontinued this a few years ago. The clerk said things used to take weeks (if not months!) to arrive. The First Class International packages have been getting there in 10-14 days.

The box contained 11 big kid-adult size hats, 5 preemie/baby size hats, and one lonely square! Things seem to be averaging about $1 per item to send.

Paula, Thanks for your post! How do FedEx or United Parcel Service (UPS) compare to the post office rates? I'm guessing they cost more, but never got around to investigating either for their shipping rates.
Hi Lisa, Thanks for your nice comment. I'm starting to feel more comfortable about things when I take the packages to the post office. And the clerk keeps assuring me this is the best (cheapest) way.

A lot of people send 3 or 4 squares at a time in a padded envelope (or Tyvex), but I usually have enough for a box and like the added protection it provides. It does add to the weight, but gives me a little more peace of mind.

I picked up some declaration forms this time (customs declaration CN 22) so I won't have to fill one out when I'm standing in line. My post office says the mimimum value is $1 but others have reported using $0 for the amount. The true value is beyond value of course.

There's a number on the declarations form, and I'll try to remember to write it down before I leave the house (there's usually a line forming behind me, and I'm too busy noting the weight, etc.). Someone on the Ravelry forum reported using the number to "track" her package. It's not a real tracking number (it's more for PO use), but apparently it works like one if you enter the number on the post office web site. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see where it goes. The other person tracked her package from Oregon to New Jersey to SA and knew when it arrived.

They do a wonderful job recording the packages as they arrive, but there is a delay in finding out. I'm still waiting to find out if #4 survived the long trip. I'm sure it did, but I'll feel better when I know for sure.

Thanks for adding to the thread. Rhonda
Rhonda,

I finally finished Lillian's blanket (see the pictures--my camera isn't very good but you get the idea) so now I can get serious about hats and squares. I want to make sure that I mark the package correctly if there are hats and squares in the same package and I want to make sure that if I send only hats, I don't have to state anything differently at the post office.

Thank you for being our postal guide!

Lynne
Attachments:
Package #6, weighing 1 lb. 6.9 oz. (or more than 20 oz., but less than 24 oz.) - cost $13.65 (First Class International Rate).
What am I going to do about this everyone? Kalai and I have scoured all the forums and sorted the information. Here is a conundrum!

4 lbs, Yvonne, New Mexico, Air Parcel – a small packet weighing up to 4 pounds can be sent for $4.40 as long as the total length, width and height of the packet is less than 36".

4 lbs, Aunty Dawn, Texas, First Class Mail - cost $8.65

4 lbs, Laurie, Cape Cod, Priority Flat Rate - cost about $35

Wow that is one major discrepancy - anyone got any ideas?
I can see why you're confused, because some of these are a little puzzling, but hopefully this will help.

Air Parcel doesn't appear to be an official USPS (United States Postal Service) category, that I could find, so I don't know what to say. Sending by FedEx or UPS is a LOT more expensive, so I don't think Yvonne was using a shipping service. The amount seems too low for a parcel weighing 4 pounds.

However, four pounds is the maximum weight limit for most categories and Yvonne mentions sending a small packet, so I'm guessing her parcel weighed less than 4 pounds and that the price reflects that.

For Auntie Dawn. Again, I think 4 pounds might be indicating the maximum weight allowed. A 12-ounce parcel sent via the First Class International rate currently costs $8.64. (16 ounces=1 pound, so if she sent a few squares in a Tyvek or padded envelope, the price makes more sense.

I think Laurie's $35 might be the price of a medium size Priority Flat Rate box before the rate hike went into effect (May 11, 2009).

This link goes to a page titled: Country Conditions for Mailing — South Africa, and includes all the categories and rates.
http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/ps_032.htm#ep1642635

I'll try to paste in a few that apply. The Priority Flat Rate varies by the size of the box. The maximum weight is 4 lbs., but the cost is the same if you send something weighing less.

Priority Mail Flat-Rate Envelope or Small Flat-Rate Box: $12.95 (the size of a video cassette)
Flat-Rate Boxes: Regular/Medium – $41.95; Large – $53.95 (I pasted in the box sizes in an earlier post).

I send things via the First Class International rate (which is towards the bottom of the linked information). I've had several discussions at the Post Office, and for me, this is still the best way.

A 4 lb. package sent using the First Class International category would cost $30.35, or less than sending it via Priority Flat Rate. If the parcel weighs less, the cost goes down. The customer has to supply the mailing envelope or box.

Examples of First Class International rates:
weighing not over 4 oz. = $3.81
weighing not over 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) = $6.97
weighing not over 16 oz. (1 lb.) = $10.31
weighing not over 32 oz. (2 lbs.) = $16.99
weighing not over 64 oz. (4 lbs.) = $30.35

Things seem to take about 10 days to arrive, and do go by air. Hope this helps. Rhond
Okay everyone, thanks to all your help (special mention to you RhondaH) a fairly exhaustive postal FAQ page is now up for the USA (Canada and the UK next!), although I will be repeating the general questions on each of the country specific pages, so grateful for any feedback you have and ideas for improvement. I have included actual examples as I think that makes it real.

http://www.knit-a-square.com/postage-USA-FAQS.html

I have also redone the postal instruction page although not the international postal instruction page as that will be made redundant I think by the FAQS.

http://www.knit-a-square.com/postal.html

All comments gratefully received!
I just shipped 20 squares and 6 hats in the small flat rate box (provided by the Post Office) and the cost was $10.95 for the whole thing no matter the weight. I didn't think that was too bad (keeping in mind IT IS FOR CHARITY!!) and it will help keep some children warm. It weighed a little over 5 lbs. It was sent off Aug. 6 so I'm waiting to see how long it takes to get there also.
I am also wondering how long their winter season lasts over there. Does anyone know? I haven't time to stay and read everything everyday due to working full time and gardening and helping others when I can. If anyone knows, will you please respond to me?
Thanks for reading and listening! catlady88
Hi Donna, thank you for your squares and your hats - that's fantastic. Winter starts coming to an end in September, by December it is really hot. We are going to use the summer months to stockpile blankets ready to distribute to THOUSANDS of children at the start of winter the following year. As this project has no end, it does not matter when we receive squares in South Africa. Thanks Donna, happy gardening. Sandy
Donna, you are my new hero! However did you get all that in the small flat rate box? I didn't think I could get more than a handful of squares in it.
Please share any tricks and tips you may have. I just mailed 2 baby blankets and 3 hats at the International First Class Rate of $15.32 (weight was 27 ounces). I've got a stack of squares ready to go, and would love to be able to get them in the small box. Regards, Paula

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