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Old 21st July 2019, 11:15 PM   #19
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 758
Default Commercial carriers and their regulations.

Originally Posted by Will M
I also experienced most shippers will not send antique swords. DHL is now on the list with UPS for not taking them. I've had UPS twice take them in and then take over a week to return to sender. Now Parcelforce is the only one I know of who will ship and that's using a inventive description without using the word "sword"

Keep in mind that commercial carriers (courier services like UPS, FedEx, DHL, et al) set their own rules as regards to shipping "weapons" (antique or otherwise) that are independent of national laws regarding ownership or sale of same. They tend not to distinguish between antique and modern, just as
the enforcers of CITES like to turn blind to the distinction between antique ivory and new tsatshkes. Furthermore, the regs can change without notice, and different standards operate in different geographic service areas.

As someone in the biz (mainly restoration), I know firsthand what a nightmare this is. To illustrate (mind you, as examples only and not intended as guidance on your current decision-making), consider this from my experience over the past few years up til now:

1. I used to use FedEx a lot for overseas and domestic (within the US) because their service and tracking is quite good and they tend to beat up parcels less than UPS or the post). However, as of this past spring they have stopped accepting all weapons of any age, even swords and bows/arrows, for overseas transport. This, breaking just as a valuable saber was being sent to me from Europe, caused a real headache on my end.

2. A friend purchased some antique spears from a source in Thailand a couple years back and UPS refused to accept it.

3. But Czernys has used UPS to ship antique firearms outside the EU for some years until UPS backed out in 2017. I bought a fine flintlock fowler from them that year and it was a 9 month journey with fits and starts, first to Belgium and from there to the UK where a freight forwarder licensed to handle firearms sent it to me for a princely sum (fortunately I was able to combine it with another gun bought in the UK and pro-rate the costs). Last year Czernys told me that UPS was "on" again, but I have not tested it simply because nothing in the way of guns offered since has tempted me to bid.

4. UPS ships antique guns within the EU at least for now. But not from Germany overseas. In March I bought a flintlock at Hermann H, they sent it by UPS to someone in a EU country who forwarded it via post with some swords. (US postal regulations have no restrictions on entry of either flintlocks or swords), The cost of both legs of the journey was a fraction of what I paid to the UK firm (see above) and my local customs broker for their services in 2017.

5. I was told that a collector in the US recently received a matchlock musket via UPS from Europe, no problem. Customs declaration stated "matchlock, antique over 100 years old".

The point of this litany is that there is no rhyme or reason to these rules which have little or nothing to do with law, they are just policies created by the giant corporations that are increasingly dominating our lives. (maybe it could be worse, we could be hoeing and scything on manorial land owned by feudal lords).

For now, I mostly use the post for shipping out of the US*, have not had a problem TO DATE, even describing swords as decorative or ornamental, antique over 100 years old. No problem receiving stuff via post either; I'm not too concerned with the occasional Fish and Wildlife inspection for CITES material since I make it clear to customers that I won't accept it on objects for restoration. *to EU and Scandinavia, Canada, Aus/NZ. Israel, Hong Kong addresses -- I avoid having to deal with other regions for obvious reasons. Japan is a special case too since of the country's very tight restrictions on swords.
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