When I moved to Norway in 1993, they still had surface shipping. Six to ten weeks from Minneapolis to Haugesund and care packages from home would arrive safe and sound without costing a fortune. My mom sent me the most amazing things. From garden seeds to Crisco, the world I missed came to me thorough the post. Never a package lost, although many times I imagined my items sliding off a cargo ship, everything always arrived dry and un-dented. Unfortunately, when fuel prices rose the post office cut surface mail, much to my dismay.
When it came to birthdays and such, it meant that you really needed to plan ahead. Air mail was prohibitive but sometimes, if you lost track of time, you needed to send something air mail. Air mail with the postal service takes about 7 – 10 days and is three times the cost of surface. A wedding present went awry and I know of at least two other packages that never made it to our post box, but for the most part, a very reliable service.
The worst possible way to send any package to Norway is express mail with a private carrier. Fed Ex, DHL, UPS can not deliver the package as promised. Overnight – are you kidding? Next day, two-day service? Not on your life! They can not even deliver a package to Norway within 5 business days. Why? I wish I knew the real answer but I only have a theory and I think it is pretty good.
If you want something to get somewhere so fast, it must be something exciting. What kinds of things are exciting? Well, that will vary from person to person, but I think from the perspective of a Norwegian Toll officer, they think it must be something illegal.
So, they need to spend a lot of time analyzing the package, scan it, shake it, keep it in a bomb room for a couple of days to make sure it doesn’t explode, open it and then analyze the contents.
Only when they are sufficiently pleased that the package contains nothing of interest for them and that the appropriate time for delivery, i.e. before Easter, has passed will they approve the package for transport to the final destination.
Such is the case for the poor package I sent to Norway, filled with Easter goodies that are fun to get before and boring afterwards. It left Germany Friday the 16th, arrived in Norway the 18th, and cleared customs the 26th. Even with all the vacation days, this is pushing it.