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I don't have the most experience with foreign mail, but I do have some insight as an insider. There are only a few things I can convey that come to mind, but if I can come up with any others I'll certainly post them.
Firstly, concerning recieving mail from abroad. Firstly, don't have pot sent to you from a foreign country unless you absolutely have to. The US Postal Inspection Service brings around 1000-1500 drug charges to prosecution and has the highest successful prosecution rate of any law enforcement agency in the civilized world. While most of those charges are brought about due to domestic mailings, a good portion of the powdered drugs make their way into the states via the post office. If you do have to get contraband sent to you, make sure you know what you're doing. Customs usually opens on average 20% or less of the parcels coming into the states. They don't open letter-mail and they usually won't open international express mail. What they do open are parcels coming in from suspect nations, such as columbia, costra rica due to the high US population there, Holland, Spain, Mexico, and a small handful of other nations notorious for drug trade.
If you have to choose one time of year to get things mailed to you, try to have it sent to you during December. Customs usually green-tapes or orange-tapes over parcels that they have opened, and places a triple-triangle symbol denoting that it has been inspected by customs. During December I usually don't see a single small parcel with either of these. Make sure the person sending the contraband fills out a customs declaration completely. Make sure the customs declaration isn't for any items worth more than $50 or so, otherwise inspection is more likely due to customs charges. If an item is available readily domestically, a customs duty is often charged on the item. Obviously, good stealth is suggested. Don't buy one of those Glade cans with the secret bottom and expect it to arrive. Nobody mails Glade from Europe to the states. I have considered having hashish sent from Holland by wrapping it in tin foil, then encasing it in chocolate, placing it in a dutch chocolate wrapping, and mailing it that way. Even if it is opened, it obviously looks like dutch chocolate, which is something commonly mailed from Europe. It behooves you to also have professional looking mailers, with address labels instead of hand-scrawled addresses.
In Sweden, American cigarettes are sold for around 1/3 the average cost of purchasing them domestically. A LARGE number of these mailers are sent out from Sweden, so much that it wouldn't make sense for customs to open a single one since they're highly recognisable. If you purchase cigarettes from Sweden you know which padded envelope I'm speaking of, and if you're in Europe and want to send contraband back, it would be a good idea to re-use one of these that you have opened without it looking as if it had been opened. Just take one with you over there in your luggage.
Any time you recieve contraband, as a way to cover your ass, I would suggest you enclose a note such as "Sorry I'm late for your birthday, here's a present I remember you used to love that I came across and wanted to send you." This way the contraband is sent to you without your prior knowlege, and even if you are caught leaving the post office with it, you have a decent defense. A mushroom spore supplier, The Hawk's Eye, was busted some years back for having hashish sent to his PO Box on a regular basis. If you're going to do this sort of thing, don't make it regular. Don't have things sent the same way, either. Also, don't send things by registered mail unless the item won't leave the country unless it's registered (ie most impoverished nations, where mail is often stolen by postal employees because there isn't a paper trail). Registered mail has to be signed for, and you don't want to sign for things unless you don't have to. Express mail is the same way, but you can specify "carrier signature release", making the letter carrier your approved agent to sign for the package.
As far as sending things out of the country, I do not have much experience with that. Canada regularly opens parcels that are heavy and/or have expensive items written on the customs declaration, because they charge a customs duty quite regularly. Obviously people usually won't send pot to Canada from the states, so this probably isn't an issue. The same suggestion regarding the "birthday" note applies here too. Fill out the customs declaration fully, and make the item look professional. When you bring the item to the post office (all foreign mail MUST have a round-date showing that it was presented to a live postal employee per FAA regulations), ask the clerk if there are any items that are prohibited in that country. Italy is notorious for its strict importation regularions, such as "no toys unless wholly made of wood, no haberdashery, no italian leather (wtf?), no this, no that, etc etc etc". Better safe than sorry.
That's really all that comes to mind regarding foreign mail. Hopefully people will pose other questions so we can all share this knowlege!
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