RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
A significant change to how overseas military postal customers mail packages is coming and the United States Postal Service is phasing out and will no longer accept handwritten customs declaration forms starting Aug. 13, 2020.
On Aug. 13, pre-printed, hard copy PS Form 2976, PS Form 2976-A, and PS Form 2976-B customs declaration forms will no longer be accepted. The policy change derives from the Global Trade Compliance requirements instituted in 2015 due to increasing international security risks facing the U.S.
Aggressive and mandatory steps are being taken to provide additional safeguards against these risks. One step is the entry of Electronic Customs Declaration Information for military outgoing mail items and transmission of the electronic customs data to the Customs Border Protection Manifest system. For the U.S., changes will give USPS, the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol more visibility to what is arriving into the U.S. and from where.
“To allow for a smooth transition period, we recommend customers start using the online electronic customs declaration forms in order to familiarize themselves before the Aug. 13 cutoff date,” said Lionel Rivera, U.S. Air Force Europe Air Postal Squadron Postal Operations Flight training manager. “Customers have several options available to them when completing required customs declarations using the USPS.com website.”
Option 1: Customers can choose the USPS Click-N-Ship feature to establish a free USPS.com account, complete their customs declaration and pay for their mailing using one of several USPS approved credit cards. Customers can visit the following website to create a free account here.
Option 2: Patrons can print a customs declaration on the USPS website without establishing an account, and then pay at the postal finance window when presenting their parcels and packages for mailing here.
Option 3: Various military post offices will offer customers the option to use a customer workstation at their servicing post office to go online and complete a customs declaration before presenting mail pieces at the postal finance window.
Option 4: Postal patrons who do not present articles for mailing with an online declaration can still mail their packages using the hard copy PS Form 2976-R, USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note declaration form. However, the accepting finance mail clerk will enter the information from the PS Form 2976-R into a USPS Point of Sale retail terminal with the customer present, as clarifying questions may be required to ensure that PS Form 2976-R contains accurate and complete data to complete the mailing transaction. Customers are advised that choosing this option will most likely result in longer customer waiting times and longer lines at the post office finance windows.
NOTE: USPS announced that packages found in the mail stream bearing handwritten customs declaration forms after Aug. 13 will be returned to the sender.
Lastly, most post offices will make available or offer a separate, expedited mail acceptance window as an incentive for customers who arrive at the post office with online, pre-printed USPS customs declarations. However, customers should be patient and understanding if the new policy causes longer wait times at the counters.