Reply To: International Mail Driving Me Crazy

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Avatar photoMerior

I have now confirmed the following:

In a number of tests I established that it was possible to send a surface mail posted in Chengdu to my address in Chengdu even though it was addressed in Pinyin. However, the post office failed to deliver an identical letter that was dispatched from Beijing so obviously bottlenecks exist within China.

An attempt to dispatch a registered letter in Beijing that was addressed in Pinyin was refused and they would only accept an address written in Chinese Mandarin so there is obviously a resistance to the use of Pinyin in China.

Attempts to send standard airmail letters addressed in Pinyin to my address from the USA and the UK both failed as international letters and parcels haven’t arrived for over 3 years unless sent by courier but they used to arrive before that.

An attempt to send an “International Signed” (R) Airmail letter with the address written in Pinyin worked this week and the letter arrived in Chengdu within 7 days.  International Signed mail does not get tracked or signed for and you cannot trace it within China but the Chinese sorting office in Chengdu were kind enough to ring me and tell me that the letter would be delivered in a matter of hours. The cost of posting the letter in the UK was £6.35

My bank in the UK does not allow for dispatch of letters unless they are at standard airmail rates. They will, however, allow me to use a mailing address in the UK although I shudder to think of what issues that is going to generate.

The other method that works for an address written in Pinyin is to use a reputable courier service although it can cost over £50.00

It might be possible to successfully mail at standard rates to China if the address is written in both Pinyin (or English) with a translation of the address into Mandarin written either underneath or above. But I have yet to test this. However, UK computers are unlikely to have Mandarin fonts installed and accurate translation from Pinyin/English into Mandarin script requires a user fluency that is not available when using online translation services. I follows that the ability to save an address written in Mandarin to a graphics file can come in useful either that or get the camera out.

When addressing a letter in/to China great importance is placed on the post code and the contact name & number. Within China the Address is typically written in Mandarin script and in reverse order to the Western layout. Return addresses may prove to be useful if written on the back of a letter. Mail of little to no obvious commercial value (letter/credit cards) does not appear to be treated with the same respect as a parcel which may arrive in defiance of all the above but I have personally not been blessed with the arrival of international standard rate parcels addressed in Pinyin in about 3 years.

Apart from testing a Pinyin plus Mandarin addressed letter sent at standard rates, my next test will be to establish if ‘Verified By Visa’ will accept the UK post code of the mailing address in the UK because at the moment they insist that I need a UK post code despite the fact that my home address is on file as China. Of course, having a credit card issued to a UK address and living in China will probably get me blocked on PayPal but that is for another day.