Packages and Other Fun Stuff

The arrival of a package is like the arrival of Christmas—and it is often a group activity as everyone in the near vicinity gathers around, delighting in the weary, battered box. There are squeals of joy, murmurs of approving awe, and peering over shoulders to see what’s next. Why are packages such a momentous occasion? Inside their cardboard walls contains a little taste of home, lovingly packed by precious friends and family who thought and prayed and acted. I am always deeply blessed by the kindness of my team back home when I receive a package—thank you for sharing your lives with me!

In order to send a package successfully to Papua New Guinea, there are a few tips that help make the process smoother. I’ve gathered some below, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have other questions or to receive my package wish list.

My address is:
Catherine Rivard
SIL Box 1 (216)
Ukarumpa, EHP 444
Papua New Guinea

Tip: Make sure to spell out “Papua New Guinea” instead of the abbreviation “PNG;” it is more likely to make it here.

For small items that can just fit inside a letter-sized parcel, it should be fairly straight forward to just go to the counter and pay the correct postage to get it here. A letter usually takes 3-4 weeks to arrive.

There are several different ways to ship packages to PNG; however the flat rate boxes (through the USPS) tend to be the easiest (you can pack up to a certain weight for a set price). You can, of course, send any kind of box that you would like. DHL can be significantly more expensive but also much more reliable. If you are sending something especially valuable, then please contact me; I may have you ship it through JAARS in Waxhaw, North Carolina, who will then forward it on to me in their next major shipment. (All overseas mail is now airmail; you don’t have the option of sending by sea.)

Packages tend to take 4-6 weeks to arrive, but I’ve had them take even longer, so don’t get concerned if you haven’t heard about it in a while! The time lag occurs once the package arrives on PNG shores, not on the sending end, so don’t spend extra money to “rush” a package.

Don’t have the time or ability to put together a package but still want to be involved? Consider sponsoring a package’s postage! Contact me to learn more!

Customs Form
You will have to fill out a customs form with the package at the post office (typically Form 2976-A). Some post offices may have different regulations or preferences, but the following generally applies:
  • Check the box for “Gift” on the customs form to describe the contents (rf. #5 on Form 2976-A)
    • In order for your box to be considered a gift, it needs to have either a gift card inside or a letter from the sender to the addressee (inside the box) saying it's a gift.
    • Also, you need to write GIFTS in large letters on the outside of the box.
  • List out the items you are sending with generic descriptions (you may find it helpful to have a separate list of what you packed so you don’t have to guess at the post office)
  • Group similar things under one heading (i.e., “clothes” instead of “2 pairs of socks, 1 tanktop” etc.) Be general, not specific.
  • Think creatively when describing the contents; it makes your packages less likely to be “confiscated.” Thus,  any kind of media (CDs, DVDs) should be listed as “entertainment” and food items should be listed as “culinary items”
  • You may need to put individual weights next to each item; estimate the weights such that the total equals the weight of the box.

Packing Tips
  • IMPORTANT: Be sure to write "GIFTS" in large letters on the outside of the package. This is a new request from the PNG postal service.
  • Whenever you are sending perishable items, be sure to pack them securely, such as in double Ziploc bags or Tupperware (both of which I will gratefully use as well!); there is always the possibility of rats trying to enjoy my package while it sits in a hanger or post office!
  • Perishable food items can melt in transport, so often individually wrapped items are more likely to arrive intact :)
  • Consider what smells might interact with each other when exposed to heat; our store recently received a shipment of food that all tasted (and smelled) like soap, thanks to the other items packed with it!
  • Remove external packaging so items take up less space/weight and look less “new” (less likely to be confiscated)
  • Expect the package to be handled roughly—breakable things beware!
  • Be creative in using the small spaces—lots can get squished between the cracks
  • I treasure a personal note/card just as much as the other items. Consider including your photo as well!