As much as Grenada has some tasty food and drink to offer, one thing is for certain. Exported food and electrical goods don’t come cheap here. So if you do decide to stay longer on this spice isle or have friends or relatives living here the cheaper option most definitely is to send a barrel now and again.
I’ve heard about barrels for years, saw my mother-in-law send them to St Vincent regularly but only recently joined the “movement”.
So what is the big deal? Apart from the mathematical precision of packing it, the barrel release affair with running around like a headless chicken and then the glorious climax of unpacking, it also means you don’t need to give up on any treats and comforts from around the world.
Well today’s blog is really all about practicality. You may find this useful especially towards December when prices are cheaper to release shipments in the Caribbean. So here is all you need to know to send your barrel.
Step 1: deciding what to send
You can order a drum or barrel in various sizes (usually plastic), even send a rubbish bin or boxes with any Caribbean shipping company for a competitive price. The trick is to fill these so well that there is literally no space left. I tell you – it’s an art!
Insider tip: More expensive items such as electrical ones are best placed towards the bottom well packed. Make sure to wrap any liquids, glass or fragile items well as barrels are usually rolled around and stacked.
Once you’ve locked everything up with the lid don’t forget to write the delivery address on the side of the barrel and on top. The shipping company will usually provide you with a lock to secure the barrel so no one can get inside until you release it.
When it comes to shipping companies we’ve tried a few. Companies depend on price and service. I dealt with companies who decided to come any time of the day or night without notice – even at 2am or fashionably late as some describe it – these were cheaper but if you are looking out for professionalism and orderly paperwork the cheaper option may not be the one to choose.
You get what you pay for!
The last thing you want is to have to pay roaming charges to call back to your original country to chase paperwork.
After trying three different companies I’ve used West Indies Direct for the last three shipments for three reasons:
1. Reasonably priced
3. No hassle when clearing the barrel in Grenada
It is up to you at the end of the day. So that takes me to…
Step 2: Sending a barrel
Each shipping company will have a sailing schedule which will show you three dates:
1. Closing date – the date that the barrel can be picked up by the latest
2. Sailing date – the actual date the ship leaves the port
3. Arrival date – the date the ship gets to the island.
From the U.K. it generally takes 10 days to get to Grenada. Check out the shipping company’s website or ask for the dates on the phone.
Booking a shipment is easy. Give them a call or email them and ask for the price of a barrel and shipment. They will give you the price and suggest a delivery date and pick up date you can agree on.
Once you have your barrel collected you will be provided with a bill of lading and an invoice that shows your address, the delivery address, what you are sending and contact info. It will also provide you with the agents details in Grenada.
A bill of lading is legal document issued by a shipping company to a shipper, the actual ship taking the cargo, that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried as well as a shipment receipt bill of lading when the carrier delivers the goods at a predetermined destination. This document must accompany the shipped products and have to be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper, and receiver.
Payments are generally made in cash on the day your barrel is picked up and generally around £35 for an average barrel and £75-90 for shipping one barrel. The more you ship the cheaper it gets.
Step 3: releasing a barrel
After arrival in Grenada it will usually take two to three days for the containers to be opened and checked.
Make sure you don’t have urgent plans on the day you release your barrel as it may take a while.
Your agent will generally give you a call to pop down to his office and pay the agent fee before you make your way to the port in St George to clear your barrel. Be sure to bring your bill of lading along and ID. Once paid the agent will provide you with a document you take along to the port to release your barrel.
To enter the port you will need to pay a fee. You will receive a badge or visitor pass in exchange for your passport or ID. One step closer to picking up your treats!
Follow the directions to the warehouse and start looking for your barrel. Once you’ve identified your barrel an official will then open it with you and start searching through it, unpacking it depending on his mood – usually half way down the barrel. He then makes an assessment of how much duty you need to pay at the customs office to release the barrel and will provide a paper with a cost on it.
In addition to the duty you need to pay a small port fee as well. These offices are not logically located next to each other so be prepared to walk around a bit.
Embrace it I say – it all adds to the drama of importing your much loved treats. You can pay these fees in cash or by card but be forewarned – the longer you leave your shipment at the port the more you end up paying.
Remember: you are paying two fees: 1. port fee and 2. duty on cargo
If you have a friend or family member with you, you’ll most likely want them to stay with your barrel, pack it up and close it again while you run around and line up in true British fashion.
Once everything is paid show your papers to the official near your barrel to get a release note.
And finally you can either go and get your car to drive into the harbour to collect your barrel (this is an additional cost to the visitor pass) with the help of staff. Just be sure to to have your paperwork ready to show at the entry gate. They may check your car.
You can also arrange for it to be delivered to your home by paying a member of staff at the harbour.
And that is it my friends! Is it worth it you ask? Really depends what you are sending but unpacking my favourite coffee, wine and other treats are definitely worth every penny, cent, sweat and ting.