When shipping logic becomes shipping illogic.

Need to ship a small carton with a lamp and a stand to someone in the UK ?


Not a problem I suppose.


I've got:

  • the lamp
  • the stand
  • the clamp that goes with the stand
  • a UK power adapter for the EU plug
  • a box that's just the right size (24 x 35 x 17 cm)
  • packing tapes: brown and transparent
  • paper to print shipping labels
  • a cutting board/ blade device to make perfect cuts for the labels
  • the URL address of bpost (here in Belgium) to prepare and pay for my shipping labels
  • this directly and conveniently on the bpost site. (I have already done that a bunch of times).





Continuing to read this article may contribute to your present level of bodily stress, increasing it. It is possible that your immune and other organ systems could be affected. (I have no proof of that, but my legal representative strongly suggested including that phrase). To resume: could be affected, and perhaps even damaged, and especially if already suffering from one or more conditions that may have weakened your health. Consider discussing this with your Primary Health Care Provider if you have one. Proceed at your own risk. If that person is not avaiable in the coming month or so, proceed at your own risk here.

We are not responsible for anything. Nothing. Nada.




Hangup Number 1

  • bpost has not yet adjusted completely (or very much) to the present Post-BREXIT state that I and my recipients are living in today.
    • the online bpost site does not accept creating a mailing sticker and paying for it, if the destination is UK. Nope. Not Yet. Not ever?


Let's move on nevertheless ...


As my grandfather liked to say: "Patience fait plus que force ni que rage !"

(trans. "Patience will accomplish more than strength or rage!"

At some times, I risk doubting my grandfather's wisdom.


Hangup Number 2

  • sending this through bpost (even at the post office) from Belgium to the UK if the contents are all declared as "Gift" no longer works. (a Post-BREXIT phenomenon)
  • one has to present a "Facture Commerciale" (Commercial Invoice) or the box simply can't be handled through bpost. Can't be. Won't be.
  • OK. How about another carrier? Let's look up another carrier
    • DHL - no commercial invoice required.
    • They handle all of the paperwork for entry into the UK
    • Cost, to ship a 1.9Kg box, (25x35x17cm)? 140 €Euros. x the 4 boxes (at present)? That would be = 560 €uros for the 4 items.
      • Quick delivery method comparison ... taking the Talis Highspeed Train from Brussels to London: €29.50 for me and my 4 boxes.


Should I look around for another potential delivery company, with a better price than DHL?

Well for the UK as recipient, they're all about a wash.

Oh, and another thing, ... I have some neutrophils that I should be measuring.


Back to bpost ...


Let's think about a logical work-around for Hangup Number 2


Initially, I thought that this could potentially turn into a major hangup: Commercial Invoice REQUIRED, even for a Free Gift. Hmmm. . .


The solution needs to be ...


  • Something easy
  • Something fast
  • Something relatively inexpensive
  • Something completely within the laws of all countries concerned


The problem is, that we are viewing these items as a gift. Things given by me, to participants in my study. Can you imagine? Can you fathom that? Just giving this still functional stuff to someone else? Free ?! ...


Of course, if I was in the business of making and selling light stands, (I think I do a pretty good job with that), I suppose that I would be incorporated to do that. And I would of course have my cousin here print up a box or two of commercial invoices ("Formulaire de Facture Commerciale - taille A4").


Funny, but up until this moment, I have not encountered the need to do so in my scientific research. Sounds naïve of course. Never too late to learn to take this research thing much more seriously, I suppose. Invoices. Get Invoices.


Is there a work-around for this hang-up?

  • Yes. let's just lie about it.
  • If eventually this gets me into prison here, I've heard that the French Fries are pretty good.


So let's create the absolutely and undisputably required Commercial Invoice to put inside each box. I'll include a copy in the plastic envelope, with the two other forms to fill our, outside the box. 


  • If I actually do this:
    • I can bring the boxes back to the post office.
    • There's a chance they might even get to England.
  • If I do NOT do this:
    • the boxes will stay piled in the corner of my office, gathering dust.
    • they will never go to the UK via bpost (perhaps an important point)
    • they might be of use for participants electing the 'Minimalist' protocol somewhere in the EU.
    • Placing the boxes in my vehicle and driving the things across the channel in the tunnel to deliiver them myself could still be done. Yes.
    • Placing them in two suitcases, taking the train to Brussels, then the Talis train to London once I board it in Brussels, and meeting up with participants in London, or renting a car to drive to Berkshire and other venues once in England, ... Yes, still possible (and completely honest, but not cheap).


Above: Very nice explanation and review of options.


Bottom Line ?


No Commercial Invoice, No bpost delivery towards the UK.


"Yes but, ... you don't understand: This is a GIFT ! "


"No Commercial Invoice, No bpost delivery towards the UK."


"Oh. I see." (Picking up box and walking out of the P.O.)




Here is my Commercial Invoice:


  • The one in color (as seen below) is inside each box.


Commercial Invoice (final)



- This one below in grayscale (which attracts less attention), is folded and placed inside the plastic envelope stuck on the outside with the two other carbon triplicate (pentaplicate?) forms.


Commercial Invoice (grayscale)


(Very discreet).




Hangups 1 & 2, nicely handled ! Let's move on ...



Hangup Number 3a

  • Forms to fill out:
    • The Commercial Invoice: well, that's done now. Perfect...
    • The UK designed form to get through UK Customs: just one page. Reasonable print size permitting entry for the 28 or so pieces of information to provide.
    • The "formulaire CN23" (the form CN23) for all non-EU shipments
      • It is a form that has 5 carbon copies so PRESS HARD with your ballpoint (not a pencil; not a fountain pen).
      • Also available online: software for 134€ to print the form 5 times, and place these carefully one on the other, at the top of the plastic envelope,
        • Do this once they have been carefully cut to fit the envelope.
      • Instructions for completing the form are available online (PDF/ 4 pages).
      • Form CN-23 looks like this 
        • below is just an example, already partially completed
        • I picked up 5 copies in case I made a mistake
          • entry mistakes are not tolerated, requiring disposal of the form in an environmentally friendly approved manner and location
          • the clerk at the bpost PO window kindly reminded me of that.
            • this avoided my crossing out a mistake and writing next to it. Not accepted.


Formulaire CN23 (example)


Hangup Number 3b

Well, simply put, this requires a little time, a little effort, and a ballpoint pen.


  • It takes a little while to complete form CN23 at the PO
    • the people in line behind one in Belgium, tend to stay remarkable patient, so that is good.
    • I have some friends here.
      • So, I left the PO and I went to their house
      • They made supper
      • We filled out the sets of forms for the 4 boxes, after supper
        • 3 people
        • 3 very solid BIC ballpoint pens
        • 4 sets of 3 forms (plus some extras, just in case)
        • This took only about 1 hour. Seems acceptable.
        • one of the 3 did this faster than the other two, because she did not read the instructions on how to fill out the forms. So she did 2 sets, while we each did one. What a dear!


Hangup 3a & 3b, nicely handled !  Let's move on ...



Hangup Number 4

  • I wanted these to go out ASAP
    • Friday, the PO was closed in the afternoon, which is unusual, but was not explained
    • Saturday (usually open from 9;30AM to 12noon), was exceptionally closed, I was told on Monday.
    • Monday, I brought in all the stuff at opening time (9:45AM) and got done with the clerk's data entry process at 11:25AM.  (Actually, 10:45AM for the first box).
        • He and I both seemed relieved once that 1st box was accomplished. 
      • Some people in line became rather impatient (Unusual in Belgium).
      • I suggested that he set aside my task for the 3 other boxes, take care of other clients, and call me when it was time to come back to pay for the bpost services.
        • He liked the idea and accepted it immediately.
      • He called me just before noon, I went in, paid, and we were both, once again quite relieved. 
    • Call these simply, administrative nuisances, but still within the realm of 'possible'.



Hangup 4, nicely handled !  Let's move on ...



Hangup Number 5

  • Had to pay the postage to get bpost to send these 4 boxes (Duh..., of course). Nothing is Free, (but let's not get into that once again).
    • How much ? - 157,40 €uros total.
      • That's 36,20€ plus 3,15 € for a 'guarantie de livraison") which I fell for = 39,35 € per box.
      • What a deal ! Less expensive than gasoline cost from here to London+
      • For each carton, or for all 4, more expensive that the train ticket on the Talis, but that assumes no eating, no beverages, and certainly not an overnight stay.


So, bpost comes through in a pinch !


Hangup 5, nicely handled !  Let's move on !



Hangup Number 6a

  • This is a potential hangup: Which is, that if my Commercial Invoice simply slides through unnoticed,
    • I may not go to jail, nor have to pay a fine. At least not right away. No hangup there.
    • I have kept a copy on my computer for use in the future as needed - certainly a timesaver. Not a hangup there either. 
    • But, here comes hangup 6b ...


Hangup Number 6b

  • Hold on now. watch out!
  • If my Commercial Invoice works perfectly it may mean that recipients of the items enclosed may be asked to pay a fee by the UK Customs Declaration Service
    • Oouf! (Or in French, "Aie, Ya, Y'aie!')
    • This was supposed to have been a gift ! Free ! ("Spare me that again !")
    • Some gift !
    • Potential Participants Take Note i (if in the UK).
      • you can avoid this untoward event by coming to Belgium to participate in my interesting study...
      • below, a few shots of what that looks like on certain days.



So, ...


If this 'UK Customs Fees' thing happens, I (William O'Neill, MD - Principal Investigator) suggest the following:

  • Argue on the UK end that these items were always intended to be a gift
  • When the counterargument presented to you is: "Well it looks like, that at least somebody paid for this stuff, even if that somebody wasn't you!'
    • start to cry and whine outloud
    • play with a pants pocket as though you have some form of weapon concealed therein
    • Ask: "How much?" and pay it.
  • Most importantly (and not a joke)

    • Or, simply tell/ write me what you paid
    • I will reimburse fully via a Paypal payment to your email address.
    • This may keep the Participant and Principal Investigator on good terms.
    • It simply figures into the cost of doing research (I almost said, 'business').
    • That's it.


  • Then,
    • Open the box
    • Set up the stand and light (instructions on this site)
    • Decide when you will be starting your first of 10 days of PBM (light intervention), carefully following the "Minimalist" protocol as described on this site.
    • If lost, write or call for help.



Hangups 6a & 6b, nicely handled !  And that's it !  All done !



"Great job Dr. O' !"





Don't you love Post-BREXIT?


Gotta love it.

You must love Post-BREXIT !

We were told you have to respect Post-BREXIT, so do so.


Just like I always and invariably do, and based on meeting all the requirements as carefully explained to me at the bpost Belgian PO last week. 

I am now more completely prepared to be a responsible sender of cardboard boxes.


It's just another type and style of research.

But as one wades out into the great unknown that surrounds Science, it's still research.

Let's try not to get carried off by some current, nor fall in a deep hole.


Let's simply regain our usually calm composure. 


I think I've already made a good start.


And I'm quite happy about not being a fisherman in the UK.


Back to work.






"Nous ne faisons que notre travail..."


"We're only doing our job..." 


... That is what they said.







Gotta Luv It











DHL? Who needs DHL?



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