The lowdown on sending parcels to Colombia
Hear discussions of Colombia and you may think first of Shakira and Pablo Escobar, but there's a lot more to this South American country than pop stars and importers of ill repute. Bordered by Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela, it sits at the top of its continent and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Close to a million foreigners enter Colombia each year; around 28,000 of whom are from the UK. Some of those who make the trip do so without returning - according to official figures, approximately 3,600 Brits have set up home in Colombia, many in the capital, Bogotá.
It's logical, then, that some people on this side of the Atlantic might want to send parcels to friends and family members in Colombia. Businesses may even want to open their delivery doors to the Colombian population. Either way, it pays to bear a few things in mind before getting out the tape and scissors.
Seeing as it's situated around 4,000 miles away from Europe, Colombia is not part of the European Union (EU). This means you'll need to arrange specific customs documentation to send with your items; the exact form depends on how valuable they are. If the contents of a package are worth £270 or less, it should be form CN22. Anything with a value higher than this must be sent with form CN23.
Restrictions and prohibitions
As is the case in most countries, Colombia has a fair few things it doesn't want crossing its borders in the mail. Many of these are obvious examples you'd find in most other 'prohibited' lists, including:
Obscene and immoral objects/materials
It doesn't stop at the 'normal' stuff with Colombia, however - there are a number of other items unique to the country that you must refrain from sending. These include:
Any toys representing weapons
Preserves and perishables
Some items, while not strictly prohibited, are affected by restrictions. Anyone looking to send tobacco, hygiene or pharmaceutical products, or parcels with contents worth more than US$1,000, should seek information/permission from the Colombian Embassy in London.
Guaranteeing a safe journey
Colombia, as already mentioned above, is pretty far away from the UK. In fact, it takes around ten hours to fly from London to Bogota, and the same is true for your parcel. It makes sense, therefore, to package your items properly to ensure they survive the journey without any bumps or scrapes. Find a box that gives the items a little breathing room, and then stuff any gaps with something soft (bubble wrap, tissue paper etc.) to prevent it from moving around in transit. Then, when all is snug, secure all openings with a generous helping of strong parcel tape. It may be worth covering the edges too, for added protection.
Finally, add the address to the front in large, clear writing. This should be formatted as you would normally with a UK address, but then be sure to include the destination country's name in large, capital letters at the end. Now you're all set to send!