100kg! Outbound Friday 8/4

Congratulations! We hit 100kg, so rather than wait until next week, we will be sending DPO out on Friday 8/4.  It’s not too late, though — if you have something you would like to send out, please get it to the mailroom.

Signature Pad Technical Difficulties

Good afternoon! We’re currently experiencing problems with the electronic signature pads at the package room. The issue is worldwide and DC is working on it. We apologize for the slow down and resulting inconvenience as we resort to the old paper and binder method of collecting signatures.  We appreciate your patience!

If it won’t ship DPO, can I send it Pouch?

Please know that you should be using DPO (zip 09808) for all personal mail, to the fullest extent possible. However, what if a vendor won’t ship to DPO–can I send it via Pouch (20189)?

First, ask yourself why the vendor is rejecting it?  Remember — things are coming by air to Dakar.  Aerosols, pressurized items, flammables, etc. can not ship via air.  (spray deodorant, bug spray, cooking sprays, WD-40, perfume, etc.)  DPO, or 09808 shows as an”air shipment” to the retailers so they won’t ship those items, but 20189, to a retailer, shows as ground. But know that your shipment will still be rejected at the pouch facility and never make it here.  And now it has to be returned and credited, etc.  Avoid all that hassle!

Agricultural items can not be exported out of the U.S. — again, a retailer will know that when you try to use 09808, but will send it to 20189 (thinking that’s a US address) only to have it rejected at the pouch facility.  So, please, no potting soil, seeds, fertilizer, etc.  Or anything else banned from export out of the US or import into Senegal.

Some vendors just won’t ship to DPO -they don’t use USPS.  You can use 20189–but remember, Pouch restrictions will apply:  liquids must be less than 16 ounces PER BOX (not per item). No lithium batteries, no oversize items, etc.

Just remember, use DPO as much as you can. Think carefully before using Pouch (20189) — is it hazardous? is it restricted? is it liquid?  is it big?  Some things are better being sent in a consummables or sea shipment, and sometimes you’ll need to just find another vendor or use a remailer service like APOBox.com or ShipItAPO.

The mailroom is here to help. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Avoiding Bulk Shipping Costs

Arriving soon and sending boxes ahead?  Departing post and wanting to mail stuff onward?  Be sure to know about and avoid penalties for bulk shipping!

First, know that Pouch (zip 20189) and DPO (09808) are two completely different mail streams:  Pouch is handled by the Department of State and is primarily for official mail, and posts that do not have DPO.  DPO is really part of USPS (US Postal Service).

So what is a bulk shipment?  A shipment that equals or exceeds 6 cubic feet (meets or exceeds 5 single-copy paper boxes) and is destined to the same addressee/household between pouch shipments;

NOTE:  To determine the volume of a box in cubic feet, multiply the width times the length times the depth (all in inches) and divide the sum by 1728.  For example, a box that measures 24” x 24” x 18” has a volume of 6 cubic feet;

 So — if you are leaving here, and your onward assignment is a pouch-only post — if you send a few large boxes, or several smaller boxes that arrive at the pouch facility at the same time – you could incur fees for a bulk shipment.  The same if you are currently at a pouch-only post and trying to send stuff here – even to the DPO address. Be careful!  Spread out your shipments and only send a couple boxes at a time.  Fees for bulk shipments start at $150 and go up from there depending on the size/weight.  Your shipment will be held at the despatch agency pending credit card payment and their ability to locate you via email.
If you have questions, reach out to us at DakarMailroom @state.gov

Away from Post? Designate someone!

Will you be away from post this summer?  If you plan to be gone for more than a few weeks, please designate someone to pick up your mail for you.  Please use the attached form (also available at the mailroom). If you are already gone, or need to do this on short notice, we will accept an email authorizing us to give your mail to a designated party.  However, please use the form whenever possible!

Standing Delivery Order-Authorization mail Pick up -ps3801

Not here yet – coming later this summer?  Just email us at DakarMailroom@ state.gov to let us know who can retreive your mail for  you–your social sponsor? work sponsor?  I know they’ll be  happy to help!

Packages flood the mailroom during  the summer PCS season, and we can not store it all without drowning.  Also, the package room isn’t air conditioned; your packages will be happier in someone’s home or office until you arrive at post or return from vacation. We appreciate your help.



No Business Ventures, Please

Many members of our community currently work from home or are exploring self-employment options and ventures.  Please keep in mind that per 14 FAM 742.4-3, you may not use pouch or DPO to ship or mail items for resale or personal business use.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Kelly Richardson

Departing Post? Go to USPS.com

Are you departing post this summer?  Be sure to go to USPS.com and click the link to forward your mail.  By letting USPS know of your new address, your mail can be redirected while it is still in the States, saving all the time it would take to be delivered here and then forwarded on to you.  The forwarding address you leave with us here only helps us get mail to you after its come all the way to Dakar.

No need to wait — you can set the start date for the forwarding – go to USPS.com now and get one thing off your PCS Check list!

Outbound DPO has been Restored!

Great news everyone, outbound DPO has been restored!!  We will now be using Emirates Airlines as our carrier, which has a good track record with mail.  However, to avoid financial penalties we must have a minimum outbound shipment of 100kg.  To reach this minimum weight, outbound shipments will now be every two weeks, on Tuesdays.  The first shipment will go out tomorrow. 

To keep up with the latest news on our DPO be sure to follow this blog! Thank you for your patience and cooperation while we worked to restore our outbound DPO services.


It’s Getting Hotter… and Hotter…

Just a little reminder — summer is coming.   If you regularly ship in items that can melt or otherwise not do well in the heat (think anything chocolate, canned pet food, candles)– you may want to consider shipping now.  When mail cargo is offloaded, it doesn’t come straight to the embassy – it has to be released by authorities at the airport, and that can take a little time.  The mail is held in a secure facility until delivery, however it is not air conditioned — but then, neither is the mail package room here on compound!  So, your packages can get a little warm, especially over the summer.  Plan ahead, and ship now!

As always, if you have questions, please contact Richardsonkc@ state.gov. x4202  We’re here to help!


Second/Final Notice ? 10 Days ?

Some of you may have returned from lunch to find an email telling you it was your second and final notice to pick up a mail item; if you failed to do so, the item would be returned to the sender after 10 days.  Please do not be alarmed – we aren’t going to be sending anyone’s mail back.  

These emails are a new feature that Washington turned on today in the mail delivery/tracking software; we do not have any control over the emails going out. We cannot change the wording or the timing of them, or even turn them off—it’s all driven by Washington.  And Washington does not understand that people may be on R&R, medevac, on their way to post, on regional travel, or otherwise legitimately not picking up their mail. There also seems to be a glitch in that some people are receiving these emails in error – they do not have any items pending in the mailroom at all.   

Thank you all for being conscientious about picking up your mail on a regular basis.  And my apologies if you’ve received one of these emails before we were able to get the word out.  If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know, and be sure to sign up for the Mail Call Blog! 



Use DPO to Avoid Issues with New Amazon Packaging

On January 3rd, the Department released cable 17 State 160 advising us of an issue with Amazon that may result in bulk shipments. Recently, Amazon made a switch in the size and type of boxes it uses for some of its overseas product lines (e.g. Amazon Pantry). Unfortunately, the size and dimensions of the stronger boxes makes them oversize for pouch, which may result in delayed arrival, additional charges to the customer, and/or returned shipments.

Let me clarify – many use the word “Pouch” to mean “any mail for an overseas post”, and they do not differentiate between Pouch and DPO. Please understand, Pouch and DPO are two completely different mail systems—managed by different people, shipping from different parts of the country, and with different restrictions and shipping requirements. DPO is not the same as Pouch.

Please note – this advisory bulletin regarding oversize Amazon boxes applies to POUCH. Pouch is for official mail (your 20189 zip code). This advisory does not apply to DPO (your 09808 zip code). And, here in Dakar, everyone should be using DPO (09808) for personal mail – i.e. your Amazon orders. DPO is delivered several times per week, and has much more liberal size restrictions. This advisory applies to posts that are pouch-only, where they don’t have access to DPO.

To summarize, this issue with Amazon oversize boxes does not apply to us, because here in Dakar we are fortunate to have DPO and should be using DPO, zip 09808, for all our personal shipments.

Please visit the Mail Call Blog at https://mailcallblog.wordpress.com/ and click FOLLOW to stay up to date on all the mail room happenings. If you have questions or concerns, please check out the blog, email me at RichardsonKC@state.gov, or call me at x4202.