Recently I shipped a package to India via USPS Priority Mail. The package had some clothes, toys and body lotions. You can read on my complete experience in my post: Shipping Package to India from US
This post I just want to dedicate to the tracking of the package.
Here’s my complete package tracking details.
It took total 19 days including weekends or 14 business days.
It took about a week in Customs Clearance.
Usually USPS claims 6-10 business days. I wonder if the delay was due to Christmas time.
Feel free to share you thoughts, experience or questions in the comments below.
Hope this helps.
Recently I sent a package(parcel) to India via USPS. I had previously sent documents through USPS Priority Mail (International) but this was the first time I sent a parcel with contents other than documents.
I would like to share my experience here.
Contents of the Package
- Infant items: T-shirts, pants, bibs and pacifiers
- Toys: Baby Einstein Take along tunes(AA batteries), Toy for crib handler(button cells), Baby Cry Audio Monitor(with adapters but no batteries)
- Adult Clothes: T-Shirts, sweater, pajamas
- Body Lotion: 3 body lotions (got from beauty section in Wal-Mart)
USPS Priority Mail International
I selected USPS to ship the package. I chose Priority Mail International Flat rate (Large box 12 1/4" x 12 1/4" x 6").
It costs about 80$(as of 01/01/2015) and maximum allowed weight is 20lbs.
The flat rate box is little costly if your package is going to weight less than 10-12 lbs. I would suggest you use your own package. I realized it after I already shipped the package.
I had to fill out Customs Declaration form 2976-A.
In got it from the local USPS office. You can create it online as well. I won’t discuss entire form but just one section that mostly is confusing.
Detailed Description of Contents
In the Detailed Description of Contents I used the the four lines and mentioned the items like I mentioned earlier but mentioning Toys and Audio Monitor.
I left the Qty and Lbs/Oz. section empty and mentioned Value for each individual line I have above.
I marked it as Gift.
Left the Total Gross wt. empty( I didn’t have exact number) . The person at the post office will enter it when you go to mail it. For me it came out only 7.5 lbs
Then I filled the Total Value. For me it was $130
At the Post Office
The customer service lady weighed the package and entered the value. She asked me if the Audio Monitor has Lithium batteries. In the payment screen, you have to confirm that the box doesn’t have lithium batteries.
She said $85 insurance was included with the price but if I wanted to cover full $130, I need to pay about $5 extra. I didn’t opt for that.
I paid and she gave me receipt.
Tracking International Packages
I didn’t see the receipt thinking the priority flat rate has tracking included. Mostly when tracking is not included in shipping cost, the agent would ask you.
When I came home and looked at the receipt there was no tracking number listed on it. I tried using the Transaction# but that didn’t work.
I called the USPS customer service, and that experience was little painful at first due to their automated menu options. They wanted me to select something before they can transfer me to customer care agent. And I can’t say “Tracking” as their machine will keep asking me for tracking number which I didn’t have. When I said I don’t have one, it said it can’t help any further and hanged up on me. So I selected “Change of address” option. After 20 minutes of wait finally got hold of an agent who said she can help me with anything but International and transferred me to international department. Accidentally, I pressed button on my hands-free and the call got disconnected.
I called again and this time I decided to say “International” to the automated menu selection. It recognized it and after another 20 minutes I was transferred to an agent. She asked for a label number and I said there isn’t one on the receipt. She said if there was a Customs Form number. I gave it to here and indeed that was the Tracking#.
I discovered something new: Customs Forms#= Tracking number#
I had a good laugh at myself.
How long it took to reach the package?
Total 19 days including weekends or 14 business days. Check my next post for complete tracking details.
Was there any Customs Charge in India?
No, they didn’t charge anything. I read some where on USPS or India post website that non-commercial shipment (usually regular households/clothing/etc.) as gift upto Rs. 10000, they don’t charge anything.
The box was opened from the bottom and re-sealed when it reached to its destination.
Share your thoughts
If you have any questions or want to share your experience sending package to India, please use the comment section below
Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
You might have read about OVDI or OVDP process but IRS introduced this new process called: Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures
This was kind of introduced last year but was for US citizens residing abroad. This new process now includes permanent residents i.e. Green card holders as well.
Here are the quick links for your reference.
If you are already under OVDI/OVDP program check these FAQs: Transition Rules
I couldn’t find much time to read all through and do much analysis. I will update my thoughts as I understand it better but feel free to post your questions and comments.
Hope this helps.
This is just a friendly reminder blog post to the readers that June is the FBAR month. The deadline to file FBAR for the tax year 2013 is June 30, 2014.
If you forgot what FBAR is and don’t know if you need to file it or not, check this – What is FBAR?
I believe, now you cannot do a paper filing and it is mandatory to file it electronically.
The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (114) must be filed electronically using the BSA E-Filing System.
To file FBAR Online go to : BSA E-Filing System
For Individual filer, you have two options:
- With Registration: This is where you need to go through the registration process. It takes little more time. I have used this earlier. Here is my blog post: Filing FBAR Online
- Without Registration: Here you can file the FBAR form online without the need to register. I haven’t used it but you can get more information here: File FBAR without Registration
Note: “An FBAR filer is considered an individual when he/she personally owns (or jointly owns with a spouse) a reportable foreign financial account that requires the filing of an FBAR for the reportable year.”
Hope this will be helpful.
For those who are considering opt-out or already in opt-out process, this article has some information on what to expect and prepare for the possible questions that they might encounter….
For more than a year, numerous taxpayers with previously undisclosed interests in foreign financial accounts and assets have been seeking participation in the current IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program (the OVDP) which began in 2012, modeled after similar programs in 2009 and 2011.
Taxpayers participating in the OVDP generally agree to file amended returns and file FINCEN Form 114 (formerly Form TD 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts), FBARs, for eight tax years, pay the appropriate taxes and interest together with a 20% accuracy related penalty and an “FBAR-related” penalty (in lieu of all other potentially applicable penalties associated with a foreign financial account or entity) of 27.5% of the highest account value that existed at any time during the prior eight tax years. The OVDP does not have a stated expiration date but can be terminated by the IRS at any time as to specific classes of…
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If you have read my previous posts on Passport renewals, I am really shocked with the news release from the Indian consulates in US that they are once again changing the service provider for application of visa / passport / POI, that is for the third time in last two years.
Around May 2012, they outsourced it to VFS and then around May 2013 to BLS-India. Now starting 16th May 2014 to Cox & Kings Global Services Pvt. Ltd.
Here’s the website for the new service provider: http://www.in.ckgs.us
Obviously this is really frustrating for many. I read somewhere (I believe in an article on timesofindia) that the reason for this change was lots of complaints and poor reviews about BLS-India. I haven’t use their service personally so don’t have much to say about them but here’s my take on what might have went wrong with these providers.
My expectations as an applicant
To understand the real problem let me first write a list of my expectations from a standpoint of an applicant who wants to renew a passport (or apply for visa or PIO card).
Application process: The application process should be as simple as possible. [Right now there’s lot of stuff that you need to worry mainly when applying via mail e.g. getting documents notarized, photo specifications, confusion in documents required, request return service, etc.]
Information: The information required to apply for renewal of passport(or anything else) should be thorough and detailed. e.g List of documents needed, detailed information about the fields in the application form, Fees, other FAQs, etc. This information should be detailed enough to remove any ambiguity and cover as many scenarios as possible.
Inquiry: I prefer to talk to someone if I have questions on filling application or documents needed. [The time I have tried to contact the Consulate, 99% of time I have got the busy tone. I don’t even recall getting a wait message. Contacting via email has worked once or twice but not really helpful. So this is one area they need to focus a lot.]
Track status: Once I have sent my application and it has reached the destination, I should be able to know the status of my application until my passport(or other corresponding documents) is returned back to me. [ I have heard with the introduction o
- So basically 90% of my expectations falls under “I want Information”…on so and so…
Why these providers have failed?
The failure of these providers is due to: “The Consulates” (or indirectly the leaders in Consulates and/or the government). I say that from my experience with SFO consulate.
The “I need information…” is where the providers seems to have failed. The Consulates failed at the same and since they started garnering negative reviews and complaints, they came up with this “services providers” concept. Why? So they can skip the blame and put it on those providers.
My understanding is these service providers are just facilitator. E.g. Say I sent a mail through an independent agent for “XYZ Mail Service”. The agent can provide me the details on status of my mail but only what the “XYZ Mail Service” provides him with and nothing more.
So these providers can only provide the information to an applicant what they have got from the Consulate and nothing more. They don’t have any authoritative knowledge. If you contact them, they can only provide you with limited information and I believe that you would also get from their website.
And since they cannot answer my question, I would complaint and give negative feedback.
Also I think the government might have found the cheapest provider. So that will lead to the same problems(e.g. Understaffed and Small space) which lead to the failure of Consulates providing service in timely fashion.
Why have the Consulates failed?
So the question still remains why the Consulates failed and what can we do to make them succeed?
Understaffed: The major reason I think is they don’t have professional staff and that to enough in number. Fewer number of staff to answer the queries and concerns means a lot of load on single person. And honestly dealing with many frustrated people would frustrate the service staff as well. And we as an Indian, aren’t trained hard at Customer service. So if the customer loses his/her patience, so does the staff.
Small space: Another reason I think is space. I haven’t been to any Consulates in US recently but I believe, they might be small and in the same small place where they might have started years back. They haven’t upgraded to larger space and this not only is inconvenient for the people but due to space constraint they would remain understaffed as well.
The reason for above could be several. First the head of staff is irresponsible and doesn’t care and don’t have a vision. Another reason could be they are not well-funded and they need to work within the small budget.
Whatsoever be the reason, the citizens of India suffer at the end.
Though it’s been 2+ years I contacted Indian Consulate but that experience isn’t easy to forget and so I am here still ranting about that.