New Online USPS Customs Form

USPS Online Customs Form Page

Colleagues — good day! USPS now has an online customs form, and is no longer accepting the paper ones going forward.  When you use Click and Ship, you have the option of doing the customs form at that time, but if you are sending a pre-paid return, or using postage to send a package, you may need to use the online form.

Are these items yours?

Some liquids leaked and we are left with destroyed boxes and/or unreadable labels. Most items are still salvageable, even if the packaging is not.  Are any of these items yours?

And please — this is NOT A SHOPPING LIST (as in, ooh… I like that…). If you honestly believe the item is yours, please come claim it. It is helpful if you can provide a tracking number so we can close the shipment out in the system.

  • Polo Navy Blue Flip Flops – Adult sized, 10D
  • Castille soap – 10 bars
  • Everything But the Bagel Seasoning – 2 jars
  • Naturewise Probiotics
  • Scuba diver cutting tool
  • Organic Bone Broth – x 2
  • Dog collar
  • Plastic bowl/plate set – multicolored
  • Several pairs of reading glasses and cases
  • Children’s book in French -= Vas a Ser Papa
  • Command 36 Strips
  • Metal Clasps / hardware
  • Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Box of Tide powder
  • Multi-pack of Ramen–spicy seafood flavor
  • Yoga massage ball
  • golf tees
  • craft foam

Please claim your items and encourage your friends and colleagues to refrain from shipping liquid detergents and other risky liquids through DPO.

DPO Outbound Tuesday 4/9!!!

Outbound is flowing normally again — normally being a minimum of 100kg, so about every two weeks.  We post the next anticipated date on the blog’s home page. Be sure to “follow” the blog and stay in the know!   Bring your items in by 9:00 am. Tuesday to make this outbound shipment.  If your Click and Ship account is having problems, let us know your account name so we can request a fix.   Happy outbound!

S’Mores Anyone??

The CLO is busy organizing and coordinating the upcoming camp out.  Perhaps you need to order in some new camping gear — here’s how to do that!

First, all personal shipments should be coming DPO –zip 09808, and not pouch (zip 20189).  DPO allows for larger shipments — so you should be fine shipping in a new tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, etc.

  • Marshmallows– no problem!
  • Chocolate — available locally, but if you want to ship in, it’s not too hot yet. Go for it!
  • Graham Crackers — probably going to arrive crushed — but you can try!
  • Glow sticks — how fun! And not a problem. Ok to ship.
  • Charcoal, matches, lighter fluid – ALL NO. Flammable.
  • Bug spray — pumps ok, but not aerosols

As always, allow for delays, and order early!  Have fun, and thank the hard-working CLOs.

Mail is on the Shelves for Pickup!

Mail is going on the shelves for pickup!   DC is still working on the systems issues, so we’re going old-school (manual), but you can pick up packages again!

Going-old school means the automated emails won’t work right for a bit.  We’ll send out emails this afternoon to let people know to come get their stuff –especially people who have a lot, as 100 more bags arrived this morning, so we need to keep it moving.

Thank you all for your patience.  And thank the mail room team — it’s a lot more work for them to do it this way, but they are committed to getting you your packages!

Why can’t I get anything that came in this week?

YIKES!  I know it is frustrating to see the mail bags in the PBX hallway, and not see those packages go on the shelves for pick up.  I know you know your long-awaited, desperately-needed item is in there, and you wanted it for the weekend.  Me too!!

We’ve been working with Washington since Tuesday to get the mail unstuck.  The sytems issue is worldwide. And each day, we’re assured of a workaround, which has delayed us creating a paper-based or manual way to do this. The amount of barcodes and scanning into the system to account mail is significant; manually bypassing it will create problems that will ripple for months.  With the promise of a fix each day, we did not want to make more problems by being too eager.

But know that if DC does not have a solution by Monday, we will implement a manual way to get you your packages.  Thank you for your patience.

Systems Issues — but moving forward!

**UPDATE — I spoke too soon!  DC’s workaround didn’t work exactly, but they are working on getting us another solution soon.  Please hang in there!

Good afternoon!  There’s a worldwide problem with USPS uploading data to the software system we use to receive and process mail. This has had us unable to receive any incoming DPO bags since Tuesday — but we have a workaround!  We will receive and get the incoming DPO on the shelves and to you as quickly as we can.   Thank you for your patience.

Of Mice and Mail


I know many of you have had issues with mice nibbling on your packages.  I know how frustrating it is to wait for packages to arrive only to have things ruined or inedible because of mouse nibbles! Mice around the world hate winter, and mail packages are warm place to grab a quick bite. I think mice are genetically evolving to recognize the Amazon logo!  

Our facilities colleagues work diligently to mouse-proof the SPX package room and provide traps.  The mail team works hard to get all the packages put away daily, up off the floors, and to clean spills thoroughly to do our part to combat the little critters. Not all the mice damage happening to your packages happens here in Dakar — we’ve opened mail bags to find mice crushed at the bottom (ewwww!). 

Your mail has time in Chicago before heading here — and then it doesn’t fly direct — so there are transit hubs where the mice can hop on board, too. And then there is time at the Dakar airport while it clears customs and hangs out for a short bit before being delivered here.  Unfortunately, we can’t mouse-proof every location your mail passes through.

Hold off on some food items until it warms up, if you can, or order better-packaged items or items from vendors that ship things packaged a little better.  And know that this problem will resolve itself shortly — things are getting a bit warmer every day! We appreciate your patience. 


DPO Outbound Delays Continue

We continue to have issues with DPO Outbound (DPO back to the US, also known as retrograde). As previously reported, Washington changed our retrograde carrier. We had thought we only needed to sort out issues on this end allowing us to get the shipment out early this week.  It appears the issues are much deeper — with the implementation of the contact itself and it will take more time for Washington to resolve it on their end. In the meantime, we standby.

Remember, letters and flats can and will go out via Unclass Pouch.  We will keep you informed.  Please let us know if you have unique circumstances or need assistance.

Taxes? It’s that time of year!

Please remember to allow extra time if you need to physically mail back documents for filing your taxes.  Letters sent via unclass pouch or DPO typically take three weeks to reach their final destination.  When it’s important, allow even more time.  And if the date really matters, consider sending via international express mail.  It’s more expensive, but you’ve got much better tracking and guaranteed delivery dates.

Stamps are available for sale in the Commissary! (Thank you IDEA).

Mail Delays — Update

I have information regarding the mail delays for incoming and outgoing mail.

First — outbound DPO.  It was supposed to go last week, but did not. Washington changed the contract carrier (switched airlines on us) without informing us. We are working with the new carrier and we expect the outbound to go out on Monday. Any outbound DPO delivered to the mailroom this week has been included in that shipment and will go out on Monday. Once we work out the details with the new carrier, we will let you know of any schedule or shipment changes.  Stay tuned for more details!  But outbound DPO is flowing again. We apologize for the delay.

Inbound DPO delays — some of you have noticed that shipments that left Chicago early March had either not arrived or been mis-sent elsewhere.  Even allowing for inclement weather in Chicago — something was wrong.  Reaching back to Washington, we learned they also changed the carriers for mail leaving the US, and those new carriers were having some issues as they got up to speed.  Mail is arriving; we will continue to monitor shipments and work with the new carriers on this end to head off problems and prevent delays.

Outbound Pouch Delays — Unclass pouch (remember, letters and flats go out unclass pouch if that is the next shipment) had some issues in February.  Our contractor responsible for getting unclass pouch through customs and onto the plane, on this end in Dakar, held 3 weeks of shipments. That mail is moving again. We are working with contractor to ensure this never happens again, and deeply regret the delay and inconvenience.

We are sorry for the delays and inconvenience. We know how important reliable mail and package delivery is.  Thank you all for being patient and alerting us to issues. With information and data, I can analyze patterns and ask better questions–all of it helps me help you!  Thank you.