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New rules apply to sending packages to Cuba

By Staff | Dec 8, 2009

New rules apply to packages being sent to Cuba from the United States. On September 8, 2009, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a Federal Register final rule revising existing restrictions on exports of gift parcels. It also authorized exports to Cuba of certain donated consumer communications devices, including certain computers and software, mobile phones, and satellite receivers.

The only U.S. Postal Services available for authorized exports to Cuba are First-Class Mail International, International Priority Airmail, International Surface Air Lift, and the Priority Mail International flat-rate envelope and small flat-rate box. All of these services have a maximum weight of 4 pounds.

Eligible gift parcels for Cuba may include any of the following: food (including vitamins); medicines; medical supplies and devices (including hospital supplies and equipment for the handicapped); receive-only radio equipment and batteries; clothing; personal hygiene items; seeds; veterinary medicines and supplies; fishing equipment and supplies; soap-making equipment; and all other items of a type normally sent as gifts between individuals except for certain items prohibited. Items in gift parcels must be in quantities normally given as gifts between individuals.

Even if Commerce Department regulations permit an article to be sent out of the United States in a gift parcel, the article might still be subject to a Cuban import prohibition. Articles included in gift parcels may be subject to detention or seizure upon arrival in Cuba.

A gift parcel must be sent directly to the recipient by the individual donor. Each gift parcel must show, on the outside wrapper, the name and address of the donor, as well as the name and address of the recipient. Each parcel must have the notation “GIFT-Export License Not Required” written on the addressee side of the package and the symbol “GFT” written on any required customs declaration.

Except for gift parcels of food, not more than one gift parcel may be sent from the same donor to the same recipient in any one calendar month. There is no frequency limit on gift parcels of food to Cuba. The combined total domestic retail value of all commodities in a single gift parcel may not exceed $800. This limit does not apply to food sent in a gift parcel.

For more information about purchasing stamps, stamps by mail, postal regulations, a free subscription to USA Philatelic magazine, Post Office events, the location of the nearest postal store or contract unit, or for answers to your specific Postal Service questions, contact USPS at 1-800-275-8777, or visit www.usps.com. To schedule a presentation for your community, club or group on how the Postal Service brings the Post Office to your home or office computer, call 239-573-9638.

Mr. Zip’s Tip: The Postal Service is the nation’s second largest employer and operates the nation’s largest retail network, the world’s largest civilian fleet of vehicles, and the world’s largest alternative fuel-enabled fleet.

An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation 146 million homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail.