What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner?

The Halloween event is still a week away, but it’s not too early to think about what you’re going to make for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are planning to ship in grocery items so you can make your famous pecan pie, green beans, sweet potatoes,  whatever it is that you and your family look forward to every year — please keep a few rules in mind:

  • Pop top cans are prohibited–anything with a pull tab to open. They can not be shipped via DPO or Pouch.  The lids pop open in shipment due to pressurization changes.
  • Pressurized items — like Pam Cooking Spray, cheez whiz, — can not be shipped via air.  (prohibited for both Pouch and DPO)
  • Cooking oils, or any liquids— liquids can be shipped via DPO (zip 09808).  But they must be packaged to prevent and contain spillage.  Liquids are prohbitied in pouch. And remember, anything that assumes the shape of the container it is in is considered a liquid.
  • Knives and anything resembling a weapon can not be shipped via Pouch. Cooking knives (but not weapons!) can be shipped via DPO- Zip 09808.
  • Flammables — if you are ordering candles, do not order matches or lighters to go with them.  (You might want to wait a few more months before ordering candles unless you don’t mind them a little wonky from the heat).  No buffet fuel canisters.

Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.  Richardsonkc @ State.gov
Good luck and happy Thanskgiving preparations!

Perfume, not DPO — think PJ

Good afternoon!  You may have seen the CLO’s recent announcement about PJ orders being due 10/21.  If you are someone who traditionally gives or gets perfume for Christmas, please remember that perfume is flammable, considered hazmat, and can not be shipped via DPO or Pouch. (The shipping rejection notices are already starting to come in!)  But– you can get perfume via PJ.  (Please understand I am not endorsing one vendor over another, merely pointing out a purchasing alterntiave).  PJ ships via sea, not air.

It’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas. I’ll be posting lots of notices, tips and tricks — encourage your colleagues to sign up for the blog!

It’s October — Ordered Halloween Yet?

Happy Monday morning, everyone!  And it is now officially October, which means that you need to order your Halloween costumes, treats and decorations THIS WEEK.   Wait too long, and it’ll get scary!    Scroll down for more Halloween ordering information.

Click and Ship Account Problems?

I am aware that many of you have problems with your USPS Click and Ship accounts and USPS has been unresponsive.  And without Click and Ship, it’s darn near impossible to mail out packages.   I have been in touch with them and we have a solution!

Please email DakarMailroom@ (you know the rest!).. or stop by the mailroom and provide your USPS Username and Account number.  To get the account number, log in to USPS.com, click on your name, and then Activity History.  It will open up a list of orders — click any of the order numbers, and then click the blue transaction number and you’ll get your account number (upper right corner of the next details page that pops up).

We will submit the information to USPS weekly.  They will reset the accounts and things should work again!

Please let us know if you have questions or need further assistance — Spread the word — and get your colleagues to sign up for the mailcallblog!

Halloween is almost here!!

WAIT!!! What?!! Halloween?! What happened to summer?!   It’s time to start thinking about Halloween so there’s enough time to ship in all the things you need for a fantastic holiday.  IDEA will be announcing the details of their soiree soon, but know that there will be an event– which means candy, costumes, and decorations!

Costumes and decorations — please ship via DPO (09808 zip code). Pouch will reject anything that resembles weapons to include fake pirate swords, grim reaper scythes, knives, etc.

Candy — Halloween isn’t Halloween without candy.  Again — please ship via DPO – 09808.  It’s hot and chocolate melts. Peanut butter centers may melt. Gummis can melt (ish).  All of which is fine, but in the world of mail, liquids are anything that assume the shape of the container that they are in (peanut butter is really a liquid).  And liquids are restricted in Pouch. So, be safe, avoid rejected shipments, and use DPO (09808).

Speaking of melting — face paints.  Some people have had great luck, and others not so much. If your whole costume hinges on face paint, you may want to ship a mask or other “plan b” item.  If this is your first Halloween in Dakar — Welcome! — but also know that October here is still HOT HOT HOT –it’s no crisp fall evening.   You may want to re-think furry costumes, and tons of makeup–to each their own, but you’ve been warned!

Batteries — if you’re into animatronics or powered decorations, just remember that there are limits to lithium batteries in the mail. Best to avoid them altogether if you can, but if not, scroll down to find previous instructions on how to ship them.

Also, if your favorite Halloween vendor doesn’t ship to DPO, consider using a remailer service like ShipItAPO or APO.com, or any remailer of your choosing.

IDEA will come out with more details soon, but if you ‘re ordering candy and decorations anticipating doing a tent again this year, plan for the event to be a bit smaller than in previous years and geared for the under 12 set, so think “less scary” than last year.  Plan for about 150 kids + 150 adults, and your tent/area will not be powered (no electricity provided).

Please order early, and have a great Halloween!  We’re here if you have any questions about what you can or can’t ship, or how to do it.



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!