Sending parcels out to UK addresses is easy enough, but things start to get a little more complicated as you look further afield. With every different destination there's a fresh set of guidelines, delivery times and prices for your request. Many European nations have their own rules for posting, but Brits should be pleased to hear that our neighbours in France don't make this task too tricky to handle.
When sending any item abroad, whether that's a pack of pens or a world-class racing bike, it's important to consider the usual factors. Researching things like weight limits, prohibited items and other considerations will help you work out the feasibility of your request, which could even save you an embarrassing trudge back home from the courier's office.
Just to help you gather the basics about posting an item to France, here's some of the things you might want to bear in mind.
All the time you spend researching prices, shipping methods and delivery times will go to waste if you're not allowed to post your item to France. Thus, it's best to review the list of prohibited items before you get started.
Some of the more obvious exceptions include live animals, foods (fruit, vegetables and edible plants, etc.) along with any products of the chemical or allied industries.
There are also restrictions on any glass, natural or cultural pearls, rare-earth metals, radioactive elements, paints and varnishes, while explosives are a pretty big no-no.
According to the Royal Mail's online guidance, wood and articles of wood - such as cork - items made of straw and wickerwork are also banned, with the same rules applied to printed books, newspapers, pictures and any other products of the literature industry. But perhaps the biggest surprise is saved for the ban on posting toys, games and sports requisites, including any parts and accessories thereof. Harmless on the face of things, maybe, but rules are rules - and the Royal Mail does say its Prohibited List should only be used as a guide. Contact your courier if you are not sure.
If you're sending an item to a non-UK address it always pays to include as much information about the location you're posting to. In the case of France, your address label can contain up to seven lines of details about the place in question.
You'll always want to start with a full name for the person followed by a company name if you're posting to a business. The third and fourth lines should be taken up by the building name, road number and the name of the road, with the fifth stating the locality or name of the destination.
The sixth should be reserved for one of France's trademark five-digit postcodes, with the last gap left for you to spell out FRANCE in capital letters. After you've got that sorted you're ready to start posting.
Delivery to France can either be carried out by plane or by van. Many UK couriers offer delivery to EU destinations like France, Spain and Germany, although you can be expected to pay a little more for the privilege.
One of the easiest ways to post a parcel to France is to obtain a quote from a courier who works online, purchase a delivery label from the company and arrange for your parcel to be collected from your front door.
Delivery times to France will vary depending on which method of transport you choose to post your parcel by. Estimated arrival times for packages from the UK to built-up areas in the likes of Marseille, Lyon and Paris will take between one to three days by air and two to five days on the road.
Though of course, you can be expected to wait longer for your parcel to arrive if it's being sent to somewhere more rural and out of the way. Either way it's not too far off what you'd expect from a domestic delivery - you just have to pay a bit extra.
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Sending parcels to France