x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

US postal restrictions lifted on UAE packages

Rules imposed by Emirates Post on American parcels in wake of printer bomb scare are no longer necessary, says US postal service.

DUBAI // Transportation authorities in the United States say Emirates Post need not continue to bar US-bound packages weighing more than 450grams.

The UAE and other countries imposed the restriction on shipments in response to US security measures introduced worldwide last November.

The new rules came shortly after two bombs hidden in printer cartridges mailed from Yemen to American addresses were intercepted in Dubai and the UK.

But size limit is not one of those measures, said Kawika Riley, a spokesman for the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which set the rules.

"There are no package size restrictions," he said in an e-mail. He declined to explain the rules imposed after the thwarted attacks, citing security precautions.

In a statement at the time, Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, named a few, including that toner and ink cartridges weighing more than 450grams would be banned.

Mexico's postal service listed additional requirements, citing US policy. It said those sending packages over 450grams would need to provide proof of residence, such as a recent utilities bill. They would also need to fill out and sign a declaration on the "sender's situation for packages weighing over 450g".

Soon after the TSA introduced the measures, some nations such as Japan and Cyprus were reported in local media to be banning all packages over that weight, in response to US policies. Two customer service representatives for Emirates Post said the same applied in the UAE. "They can only send 450g," said Sajjad, who gave only his first name. "This is because of the US."

After the measures took effect, postal services in many countries complained the policy disrupted operations.

As a result, in March, the TSA adjusted its policies, said Patricia Licata, a spokeswoman for the US Postal Service.

"The security measures inadvertently caused some supply chain problems for many postal operators worldwide, who were obliged to change their operational procedures," she said in an e-mail.

The new measures were designed "so countries could get the mail moving again to the US", she said. "The new directives have been disseminated to all postal operators and air carriers."

Emirates Post customer service representatives, however, have apparently not received such a memo. Nathan, who gave only his first name, said no updates had come through in March or any other time.

"We only accept packages under 450g. At any Emirates [Post] this is policy," he said. "We don't have any updates coming from the US post."

chuang@thenational.ae