Sending Stuff Home
You realize you’ve accumulated a plethora of treasures in Toyama you just can’t seem to part with… so what’s the best way to move it all out? Here’s the low-down on how to send things back to your home country safe and sound.
You have several options to choose from. If you haven’t amassed a large collection of items, it’s possible to box up your belongings and send it through the local post office. For those of you who have larger volumes of things to send home, or bulky, fragile or odd-shaped items, you might consider the benefits of a shipping company. Lastly, most of us have managed to collect quite a number of books during our stay here. Send your books at the special book-rate at the post office. You can also leave your books with the AJET librarians or sell them to Book Off.
The most important thing is to plan EARLY. You’ll have to sift through everything to decide what you’d like to keep and what you really don’t need in your next place of residence. Good luck with your packing and remember, what you don’t take with you; you can always sell or give away.
Remember your baggage allowance limits for when you fly back. North and South America it is two pieces not to exceed 32 kilos each, while pretty much the rest of the world is 20 kilos TOTAL! Going over is expensive.
Surface mail through the post office has long been considered one of the best ways to get your things home, assuming that you don’t want to take absolutely everything back.
The post office may want to inspect the contents of your items if you send it via surface mail. To avoid having to unwrap your parcels at the post office, take the box in unsealed, allow for inspection, then wrap it up there. For all items, you will need to fill out an “international parcel label” which is a combination invoice, customs declaration & address label.
If you want your items to reach you a little quicker but still don’t want to pay the rates of first-class postage, consider using SAL. The packages go by air, but not by express, so the rates are less expensive than first-class mail prices.
Take heed of the following information regarding international packages:
- For packages of up to 20kg, the sum of the dimensions may not exceed three meters and the length may not exceed 1.5 meters, OR, the sum of the dimensions may not exceed two meters and the length may not exceed 1.05 meters.
- You receive a 10% discount if you mail ten or more packages at a time. If sending 50 packages or more, you receive a 20% discount. This discount applies to packages in the same shipment going to different destinations
- Air, SAL and surface packages may be insured upon request. Insurance varies according to destination, but the cost of insurance cannot exceed the value of the package. The first ￥20,000 value of your package costs ￥400 to insure, and each ￥20,000 thereafter costs ￥50. Although a proof of value isn’t required when purchasing insurance, it’s nearly impossible to make an insurance claim without one. Receipts or photos are valid proof.
- International packages can be insured for a maximum of ￥27,710 per item, depending on the weight. I.e., 5 kg = ￥8,810, while 20 kg = ￥21,710
You can also contact: Toyama Central Post Office:
FAX : 076-432-3975
Address: 6-6 Sakurabashi-dori Toyama-shi
Opening Hours: Weekday : 9:00~19:00 Saturday
Saturday : 9:00~17:00
Sunday/Holiday : 9:00~12:30
Using a shipping company to get your precious cargo back home is a great idea if you have a large volume to send. It’s generally well handled and ideal for sending home those odd-sized items, as long as it fits within the size restrictions.
Although your items are usually insured, as a general note, it’s best to send the less-precious belongings ahead and carry the very valuable with you as you never know what might happen along the way. Shop around a bit, as prices can vary considerably! Some companies charge a minimum fee for shipping, so check on this ahead of time.
Before you start calling the shipping companies, keep in mind the following advice:
- The shipping companies like to have at least one month’s advance notice, as calculations on weight and shipping schedules need to be arranged. Start planning early so you don’t spend a fortune sending everything home by regular mail.
- Packing your items in a cardboard box is generally sufficient…but don’t forget to select a STURDY box. Cardboard tears easily when wet, so think ahead to possible disasters that could arise en-route from Japan to home. If you’re sending something especially fragile or bulky, ask the company if a cardboard box is adequate protection. Ask ahead of time about size restrictions…you don’t want to pack up everything nicely only to find that it won’t fit into the crate!
- Buy an ample supply of bubble wrap and duct tape (or other strong, waterproof tape). Pad everything with the bubble wrap, tape items closed that could open, use plastic bags to wrap the items that you wouldn’t want getting soiled or soggy and pack fragile items in smaller boxes to be placed in the big box. Tape the final box with several layers of duct tape.
- When shipping items, ask about the insurance policies. Insurance policies can be taken out based on the value of your items and are normally charged at 1.5% of the total value of the contents. Discuss the details thoroughly with the company. It is best to keep a list of what was packed and what condition they were in at the time of packing. This is useful later if you need to claim insurance payments.
- Remember that each country has its customs requirements as well as restrictions on items that can be brought into the country. As customs fees vary from country to country, you’ll need to inquire about the restrictions ahead of time. Your embassy can also provide you with this information.
Tel (toll-free): 0120-222-111
(all items including cars)
Tel: (toll-free) 0120-150-422
Sending things by regular international mail can be rather expensive, but sending a box of books as “printed matter” is the most economical way to go for your literary collection. Keep in mind when packing that the Post Office may open or x-ray your box to verify that the contents contain books alone. If you’re guilty of throwing in a few non-book items then upon delivery you WILL be charged the prices for regular mail, which will be a MUCH heftier fee. To avoid problems, you will probably have to pack the books right there at the post office, so bring whatever you plan to send in this fashion and ask a clerk what you should do. Mark your box of books as “PRINTED MATTER” or “IMPRIME”.
Note: I have heard that you can only send printed matter via third-class (media) mail at the central post office in Toyama City.
You can find lots more information in this Guide about International and Domestic Shipping, including information about shipping through specific companies to various zones in the world, a list of useful vocabulary, and more!
Note: Kuroneko Yamato also has a handy packing guide with tips and tricks on how to pack certain items to they make it safely to their destination in one piece.