We too recently had a bunch of packages returned by USPS.  Interestingly enough, we changed to the 2976-R form as instructed by USPS...and then they returned those too.  It turns out that the hard copy forms they provided us did not include a barcode so they were rejecting them.  Let me repeat that.  We switched to the form they told us to use and they rejected it because of a deficiency in THEIR form and returned all of our packages.  We have had to switch entirely to the clunky and non-user friendly online form just to get the packages flowing again. It's clear that it is made for personal and commercial shipping, not for the kind of high volume that museums send. I suspect the rules related to the acceptability of the 2976-R form without the barcode varies post office by post office (or more accurately by luck of the draw on who happens to be working the counter at the time you walk in with your packages). 


From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Skelley, Paul [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2017 9:48 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: shipping specimens out of US

   I, too, had a recent altercation and was informed the customs form changed. The old large 2976-A and small green forms are no longer valid. The US Postal Service new International Customs Form is Form 2976-R  (note "R", dated April 2016) is for ALL international packages, big and small!  No more 4 pound bench mark for which form to use. My post office would also prefer packages be handled through their internet shipping, to reduce their work, but the new form (also in cc/triplicate) is acceptable.

   If anyone has similar issues, it could easily be that clerk's interpretation of some change. Get a second opinion at the post office, try another post office, or dig into their rules to inform the clerk at the counter. But, do so nicely, as their rules are vast and complicated and very confusing. Example:  The new clerk that I first dealt with made me translate all the addresses on the forms to be in "English", as stated in the instructions. I had to inform them there was no "English" equivalent for many parts of an international address. The next day, a different clerk had no problems with what I brought in. I believe the intent of the instructions is to prevent addresses in scripts like Chinese, Cyrillic, hieroglyphics, etc.


Paul E. Skelley, Ph.D., C.P.M.
Entomology Section Administrator
Florida State Collection of Arthropods
Division of Plant Industry/Entomology
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Assistant Head Editor: Insecta Mundi

Desk (352) 395-4678
Fax (352) 395-4614
Receptionist (352) 395-4700
[log in to unmask]

The Doyle Conner Building
1911 SW 34th St
Gainesville, Florida 32608 USA
P.O.Box 147100
Gainesville, Florida 32614-7100, USA

Please note that Florida has a broad public records law (Chapter 119, Florida Statutes).
Most written communications to or from state employees are public records obtainable
by the public upon request. Emails sent to me at this email address may be considered
public and will only be withheld from disclosure if deemed confidential pursuant to the
laws of the State of Florida.

-----Original Message-----
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kohler, Michelle Marie
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:56 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: shipping specimens out of US

I have had a good deal of experience with this.
1) Go to the USPS website. Creating a login will save you a lot of time in the future. Go to International tab, then click on Complete Customs Form. Scroll down the page until you see the option that says "Just need a customs form" Proceed from there. You will print the form.

2) Fish and Wildlife: This is a pain in the butt until you get used to it. Go to    It is next to impossible to find this site without the URL.
Create a new account. WARNING: Choose a stupid password, because they will send you an unencrypted email with both your login id and password !
Once you login you choose new declaration.  This is where it gets fun. I am attaching a screen capture of one of mine that I recently submitted. You will notice that the customs form number that you just got from USPS goes under #8 House, not where it says Customs. I put Museum for bonded location. And on the bottom of the page, I put NONI and the number of insects. You do have to put a separate entry for each Country of species origin that is different.
Once you fill out the form, you send it electronically. It will then give you a page about printing things out and mailing them. You don't have to do that. I combine all my documents into a single one using Adobe. I usually have an excel sheet and/or a letter that I am sending that lists more specifically what is in the package. You will need to send them a copy of the customs form. You have to combine all your files into one, because their site will only accept and keep the most recently uploaded document.
Notes: If you get it wrong, they will tell you!!! Also, every time you get a new officer, some requirement will change.

I hope that makes sense. I have sent dozens of these. Please ask me questions if you need to!

Best Regards,


Michelle Kohler MPH
Prairie Research Institute
Illinois Natural History Survey
Insect Collection
Academic hourly
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-----Original Message----
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 5:23 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: shipping specimens out of US

Hi, all. We just had - for the first time ever - an outgoing loan returned to us by the US postal service (AFTER charging $56 in postage), with a sticker indicating that attaching a Customs Declaration is no longer sufficient, but that they now require Customs Declarations to be submitted *online*.

This raises a few questions:

(1) has anyone else had this happen?
(2) if so, were you able to figure out the correct protocol and succesfully ship thereafter?

 From what I can see online, the international shipping option that uses the online Customs Declaration is part of an integrated process that looks like it can only be performed, and paid for, as an individual, rather than done via an institutional account. Our institution normally covers all shipping expenses and we do the paperwork; our shipping & receiving office is certainly not equipped to file online documents FOR us, and we have no money in our museum's budget to pay for loan shipments. It has always been that we labeled the package, attached the Customs forms, passed the package to shipping & receiving, and then the University paid the postage - but apparently that is no longer possible.

If anyone has insights into the proper workaround for this, I think a great many of us would benefit from knowing what to do. Otherwise this promises to greatly interfere with our ability to make loans.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82