Straight forward shipping not always so straight forward!
In the ever changing landscape of Global Mobility, one constant remains- Compliance. Compliance of laws and regulations whether they be immigration, tax or social.
Compliance is not simply the threat of a fine or loss of face publicly but also adhering to regulations which are the only way to achieve a goal. One such goal for global companies with an international population is effectively distributing mail internationally, especially when the company is handling their expat mail internally.
Every country has their own shipping regulations and these tend to be lengthy lists of do’s and don’ts , not just related to what can/cannot be shipped but also what sizes can the items be shipped in. to make things even more complicated, these regulations change all the time, and often without notice. The burden of keeping abreast on these rests solely on the shipper.
Things can go wrong very quickly when shipping regulations are not strictly adhered to. Here are some real life examples that have happened:
An Assignee’s Personal Item disrupted company shipping
An Expat, on assignment in Venezuela, shipped an outboard motor to his company address, where it was added to the company shipment being sent to Venezuela. The company did not know that Venezuela does not allow the import of motors from the US. The ENTIRE company shipment was held in customs for over 4 weeks causing an exceptional loss to the company.
The company HR, Compliance and Legal departments had to get involved to sort out the messy issue. Such gaffes are common when the HR or global mobility people are handling complex shipping regulations instead of experts in mail forwarding.
- Mishandling of employee mail lands company in violation of HIPPA laws
A doctor’s prescription with a note was opened by a mailroom employee handling expat mail as she was preparing to repack the items to be shipped to the company overseas office. Within a couple of weeks, via the grapevine, many folks in the company knew the employee was taking medication for depression and was asked about it! The company was sued and had to pay a heavy price for that inadvertent leak.
- Innocent family pictures land company mail to be discarded in Saudi Arabia
Family members mailed some pictures to their loved ones on assignment in Saudi Arabia. The company had a policy to not allow any boxes to be shipped but an innocent mail package with pictures was added to company shipment.
Saudi Arabia does not allow pictures where a woman’s arms and legs are not completely covered. The shipment was confiscated and destroyed by the Saudi Post despite company efforts to release the rest of the shipment carrying urgent documents and other expat mail.
Important Compliance Issues To Consider
As we mentioned earlier, the only thing that is certain to be a constant in the world of international shipping is that there is always a lot of change and a lot of modification to the underlying rules and regulations regarding compliance.
This is why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest updates, constantly checking to make sure that you are still in the clear you’re getting ready to send things internationally, and that you are working with partners that will have the same focus and dedication on keeping compliant, too.
Obviously, if you are going to be shipping internationally on a regular and consistent basis as part of your business this isn’t something you can afford to overlook or underappreciated.
You’ll need to make sure that you are covering all your bases when it comes to Export Administration Regulations, which means making sure that all of the issues we highlight below are taking care of before you start sending large quantities of anything when you are shipping services overseas and abroad.
Restricted Party Screening
While most of us would never imagine that we could find ourselves landing on the Restricted Party Screening list that denies certain individuals and certain organizations from all over the world from being able to send things internationally, the truth the matter is plenty of perfectly normal, perfectly reasonable, and perfectly legal individuals and organizations regularly find themselves added to this list for a multitude of reasons.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you are not on this list and that your organization is in the clear, though. You’ll usually find your risk factor for landing on this list goes up when you apply for export licenses for international trade (which may or may not apply to your specific situation).
You’ll also want to verify that any of the individuals or partners you are moving forward with our also free and clear of being on the Restricted Party Screening list. You don’t want to find your packages and parcels held up from being sent out because of new people you have brought board, either.
Of course, if you’re only sending a handful of packages through the mail every year to international addresses abroad you likely won’t ever have to worry about running afoul of the RPS. You’ll still want to make sure that the mail screening or mail forwarding service you’ve chosen is good to go, though.
Are You Shipping a Controlled Item?
This is a hugely important thing to double verify before you even pack things up, slap an address label on a box, and send something through the mail or through a shipping service.
Most of the time people are aware of whether or not an item they are sending is sensitive, potentially illegal, or exists in a bit of a gray area when it comes to overall legality.
There are a lot of things out there that are pretty cut and dry about not being able to send through the mail internationally – things like firearms, for example – but there are also a lot of things that are considered controlled items that most people wouldn’t have ever imagined could get them in trouble when sending a package abroad.
For a more comprehensive list of the things you want to avoid sending without clearing it through your shipping company you’ll want to check out the Export Control Classification Number information you can find provided by the US government at www.Export.gov.
The resources there will point you in the right direction and help you make sure that your packages and parcels are good to go as far as avoiding shipping items that could be considered controlled items to destinations abroad.
Are You Shipping Hazardous Materials?
Hazardous material is another one that most people feel they are going to have a good handle on without having to clear anything with the authorities, but things other than nuclear waste and toxic chemicals can sometimes be considered hazardous materials, too.
Anyone nervous about potentially sending hazardous material through the mail, with domestic shipping partners, or through international shipping services to addresses abroad will want to make sure that they are complying with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations.
This isn’t something that you want to take any risks with whatsoever, regardless of the amount or the quantity of potentially hazardous materials that you are sending.
The best practice to avoid such cases is to have global companies use a mail and package forwarding service rather than handling expat mail internally, for example. Mail forwarding services have considerable experience with and understanding International Shipping regulations and the effect this can have when not properly adhered to.
By partnering up with a third-party service (like the experts at US Global Mail, for example) to handle all of your shipping and mail forwarding – including abroad – you are going to be able to avoid having to handle a lot of the compliance issues yourself, relying instead on these experts to keep you in the clear.
There are a couple of big advantage is here – not the least of which is the fact that you will be working with legitimate experts in the world of international shipping and delivery that keep an eye on compliance rules and regulations daily.
Let’s dig into a couple of the other benefits real quick.
Benefits of Services Like US Global Mail
Streamlined Shipping Solutions
Right out of the box, partnering with an organization like US Global Mail helps to streamline your shipping needs significantly.
These experts are (obviously) knee-deep in the world domestic and international mail delivery on a day-to-day basis. They understand how the mailing and shipping industries in the United States and overseas work, they know how to navigate things efficiently, and they understand how to make sure that your mail, packages, and parcels end up exactly where you want them to as quickly as possible.
These professional organizations understand all of the global rules and regulations for compliance regarding international mail delivery in a way that might have been difficult to fully understand as someone that since a couple of packages overseas every year.
This expertise is invaluable.
Automated Shipping Process
When you have an account with these kind of mail handling organizations you can automate a lot of the shipping procedures necessary to get your mail, your packages, and your parcels to your address overseas (as well as any addressed ethically, too).
This isn’t information that you have to fill out every single time you want mail delivered to you overseas, and it isn’t something that you are going to have to really think about handling after you set your account up the first time.
Instead, high-quality mail scanning and forwarding services will send your packages and parcels (the ones that you want to have forward, anyway) to your receiving address on file without issue.
You get a lot more control over the process with a partner like US Global Mail than you might have been able to take advantage of otherwise.
Centralized and Digitized Documentation
The centralization and digitization your mail through an online dashboard is of huge value, and something that makes working with third-party mail scanning and mail forwarding organizations a no-brainer.
Rather than having to keep physical records of every piece of mail, every package, and every parcel that ever came your way you’ll instead have digital records and commence of the same – helping you to decluttering your life, move from the paper world to the paperless world, while providing a digital reference bank that you can search and referred to as necessary whenever you want to.
This will help your record-keeping significantly, especially if you are concerned with compliance and want to be sure that you have detailed records about everything you send for everything you have sent to you – especially internationally.
Flexible Tools and Technology
At the end of the day, the flexible tools and technology that legitimate and reputable mail forwarding and mail scanning partners provide some of the biggest benefits you’ll leverage when working with them.
Companies like US Global Mail are constantly improving and evolving their services, helping to make them even faster, even more consistent, and even more efficient and affordable than they ever were before.
We made mention a couple of times throughout this guide of how often international shipping compliance rules and regulations can change, sometimes on-the-fly and with very little notice, and sometimes in ways that most people couldn’t have ever expected.
By moving forward with professional mail scanning and mail forwarding company with a flexible approach to their services you’ll always stay in complete and total compliance, never having to wonder that a new change or update as “flown under the radar” and put you at risk or jeopardy for some serious consequences because it went overlooked.
At the end of the day, keeping in compliance with international shipping rules and regulations often times is not as challenging or as daunting as most people expect it to be – particularly if you are partnering with mail scanning and mail forwarding companies that have a lot of experience in this department.
Those that are only shipping packages or parcels overseas a handful of times each year can probably brush up on the latest rules and regulations every time they go to send that package abroad.
If, on the other hand, you are going to be living abroad and will need to have your mail forwarded to you overseas on a consistent basis it’s not a bad idea to leverage services like US Global Mail to streamline things significantly and to handle the bulk of the heavy lifting as far as compliance is concerned for you, too.
List of some Shipping Regulations
- United Kingdom – http://www.royalmail.com/business/help/sending/restricted-goods
This article was provided by US Global Mail subsidiary Global Mobility Matters