Yesterday I shipped a box full of stuff home to the USA. Let me tell you, shipping and receiving in India are exercises of pure frustration. An hour and a half later I left the DHL office feeling ready to punch someone. Here is what to expect if you are trying to ship a box or receive a package in India.
They will repack everything
Whatever you take in to ship will be opened and repacked. So, if you are thinking of shipping home any highly personal items, note that they will be handled roughly and questioned. If it is packed in bubble wrap they will rip it open and you will have to repack it. Furthermore, the people handling your items are laborers. They don’t know how to treat a fragile antique and have never seen an adult toy. You will have to watch them very carefully and be prepared to explain everything. They won’t speak English well either (if at all), so it will just exacerbate the issues. I’m sure the reason they do this is to make sure that the box doesn’t contain some sort of explosives or prohibited items. But I’m an American shipping a box home to America. I hardly think I’m a danger or fit the profile of a terrorist.
There is a LONG list of things that are not allowed
Remember the prohibited items I just mentioned above? Well the list is long and ridiculous. I couldn’t ship my leather belt home because it’s leather, and leather is apparently prohibited (although it was not on the sign showing prohibited items). In order to ship my Louis Vuitton bag back home I had to tell them it was artificial. Luckily they believed me! Other things that were removed from my package were peacock feathers, tea, and anything powdered. I had a case of Zipfizz in the original packaging, never opened and I couldn’t send it home. Also, my Kamasutra Honey dust is now in their trash can. Bummer. Stones are also prohibited. I assumed that meant precious and semi-precious stones. Nope, any and all stones are not allowed. I had a couple of cool rocks that I had found while in India and they handed those back to me. Seriously? I also had bought some Kamasutra playing cards. Playing cards are not allowed either. Why in God’s name would those be prohibited?? They also would not ship my decorative Kukri knife that I bought in Nepal. In all, they removed almost 1/3rd of my items!
It costs a ton of money
I shipped 26 kgs (about 57 lbs), which was not over their weight restrictions. Nor was it too large. We used their box and it still costs 33,000 rupees. That is $484 USD! Holy crap! Regular Indian mail is apparently slightly cheaper, but they don’t offer any insurance. Insurance was only about 300 rupees so I felt it was definitely worth it. Also, the regular mail office always has very long lines, is highly undependable and never seems to keep regular hours.
If receiving, you may never actually get your package
A friend from home was kind enough to send me a care package for Thanksgiving. It reached here (India) on time but unfortunately has been hung up in customs for 3 weeks! Why? I have no idea. Apparently it was just some canned goods, Stove Top stuffing and other decorative Thanksgiving items. I’ve had to fill out about a dozen forms and they still haven’t delivered it. I’m leaving today so I guess that means I’ll never get it. Sorry Marleen!
If you are traveling to India and plan on buying things you are much better off brining an extra suitcase with you, or buying one. You can put your souvenirs in it and take it home that way for much cheaper. Even the extra baggage cost of $75 would be a huge savings! If you have prohibited items, you should just check them through in your bag. Just be very careful to not put them in your carry-on.