The lowdown on sending parcels to Saudi Arabia
The UK enjoys a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia than many people may realise. Despite the countries' capitals being more than 3,000 miles apart, around 25,000-30,000 Brits are said to live in the large west-Asian state.
A significant number of people also make temporary trips across the borders, with Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages two of the most common reasons for travelling. Saudi Arabia is, after all, home to Islam's holiest city, Mecca.
Saudi Arabia is also Great Britain's primary trading partner in the Middle East, but that's not to say there aren't things you need to consider before sending goods that way.
Customs declaration forms
Being in a completely different continent, Saudi Arabia is not a member of the European Union (EU), so senders are required to attach a completed customs declaration form to their parcels. If the value is smaller than £270, form CN22 should be used. Anything above this should be sent with the larger form CN23. These labels are designed to give handlers and customs officials information regarding what's inside the package - namely how heavy the item is and how much it's worth. The form must be completed in English, French or Arabic.
Restrictions and regulations
First, all of the items you might expect to find on a 'prohibited' list are similarly banned from entering Saudi Arabia - such as narcotics, weaponry, meat products etc. There's a little more to consider this time, though.
Laws and moral standards in Saudi Arabia are considerably stricter than most Brits will be used to - largely because of the prominence of Wahhabism - a puritanical and ultraconservative form of Islam. This also influences the kinds of items that can be sent to the country from overseas.
Alcohol is perhaps the biggest example here. Saudi Arabia is a dry country, so customs officials look to prevent all beer, cider, wine and spirits from making it in. This includes sweets with alcoholic contents, such as liquor-filled chocolates.
It's also forbidden to send copies of the Quran - the religious text of Islam - to Saudi Arabia. Other more interesting items on the list include worn clothing and portable laser pointers. More information can be found on the website of the country's official Customs department.
The finishing touches
As mentioned above, the UK and Saudi Arabia are separated by a fair few miles of land and sea, so whatever you're sending, it'll be going on quite the journey. Be sure to choose a box that gives your item a little breathing room, and then plug the gaps with something soft to minimise movement and prevent impact damage.
Once everything is in, use strong tape to cover all of the openings. It might be worth putting it along the edges too, for a little extra reinforcement. Then, when everything's secure, write the address in clear text on the front of the package, adding the words 'SAUDI ARABIA' on the final line.
With all of the above taken into account, your parcel should be ready to send!