The U.S. Postal Service will officially stop accepting handwritten customs declaration forms on international packages beginning March 6, but the change will come to military installations' mail a bit later, an Army news release said last month.
Items mailed through Military Post Offices to international, non-U.S. addresses will be exempt from the computerized customs form requirement pending software updates expected to be completed "during the month of March," it said.
"Customers should be prepared to start using the new forms as early as mid-March," Bill Hilsher, U.S. Army Europe chief of postal plans and policy, said in a statement.
Customs forms, including PS Forms 2976, 2976-A and 2976-B, are used by foreign authorities to clear mail and, if necessary, assess duty and taxes, when accepting a package into their country. Incorrect forms can result in the wrong taxes being levied.
After the change, postal customers will have to use PS Form 2976-R, "USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note," or fill out a worksheet that postal clerks will use to input their information into an electronic system.
Officials warned postal customers that, once the change is implemented on bases, it could lengthen waiting times at the post office.
"We ask for customers' patience and understanding if the policy change causes longer wait times at the counters," Chuck Sharpe, IMCOM-Europe postal operations branch program manager, said in a statement. "We will continue to do everything we can to support their needs as we implement this new policy."
USPS announced that it would accept only computer-generated forms earlier this year. It warned that, after March 6, any packages with a handwritten customs declaration form would be returned to the sender, unless covered by the short-term military exemption.
More information on international mail can be found on the USPS website here.
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DMillsGregg.