Shipping Books inexpensively from the US

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Looking for an inexpensive way to send books from the US to Argentina? You might want to use the US Post Office’s “M bag” service. I tried this system quite a few years ago and it worked. More recently I took advantage of the service and was satisfied with the results, so I’d like to share my experience with the readers of this website. I was interested in sending books and periodicals. I believe, though, that other items may also be shipped - for this information the reader should check the US Postal Service website. The system is as follows: you must pack the books in a box (I prepared a box of a little over 25 kilos - the weight limit was a bit higher). Take the box to the post office, preferably a major branch that is familiar with this type of shipment (check first). The postal clerk will then weigh the box and place it in a large canvas type bag. There are address labels to be filled out. It's also wise to clearly address the box - I'd suggest in two locations. The shipment is then sent via sea mail with an estimated travel time of around four to six weeks.

Coreo Argentino sent me a certified letter announcing the arrival of the shipment at the International Post Office. According to the letter, the box arrived exactly two months after I had mailed it from the US. To collect the box I went to the International Post Office, located in front of the Retiro Bus Station, where I took a number (the type you get in bakeries) and waited to be served. This took nearly an hour. Fortunately I was able to find a seat as the place was crowded. The process was rather confusing as there are no written instructions and noone to ask except for other people waiting to get packages. Once called, you must present your DNI and the certified letter from Correo Argentino. You are then given a receipt and must go to another hall to wait for your number to be called. This was the most confusing part. The numbers are long and the sound system poor, so it will not be easy to know when your number is being called. Packages are not announced in chronological order. After nearly one more hour I had not heard my number and decided to pass through the barrier where packages were coming off of a belt. My shipment had arrived so I proceeded to the customs officer. Although there was supposed to be a small duty, he did not charge me anything.
The International Post Office, in contrast to the architecturally spectacular and well maintained Central Post Office on Avenida Alem, was dirty and rundown. The books themselves, however, arrived in generally good condition. I’d suggest using bubble wrap for extra protection.

Cost was $59 dollars for a little over 25 kilos, payable in cash or by credit card to the US Postal Service. Though slow, the system works and may be a convenient way to send those books you would like to have with you here in Argentina.
 
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