Field Notes — Australia is a ‘Security Risk’

Posted on 27/01/2011 by


So today I went with money in hand to the local post office, with the intention of buying an International Money Order to send to Australia. The reason should be clear enough. I had my envelope all made out; all I needed was the money order.

Oddly enough, the nice USPS person behind the counter told me that Australia wasn’t available for IMOs, because those Aussies are now a ‘security risk’. He said there was no explanation given by USPS regulations, and he frankly was more surprised than I about the situation.

Honestly, I was surprised, and I’m a fairly phlegmatic person.

I went to the USPS website and found the full list of countries to which one may send IMOs. It’s interesting reading, because many of the countries on the list I would think pose greater security risks than Australia. Bolivia, for one, comes to mind.

Here is the complete USPS regulations regarding services available to Australia. Sure enough: “International Postal Money Order (371) NOT Available”.

Additionally: “Coins; bank notes; currency notes (paper money); securities of any kind payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; … are prohibited.” Well, and in the words of the CIA, WTF? How am I going to get my admittedly small amount of money to Australia?

Perhaps I’m overreacting here, but I find it curious that these regulations (ie the entire International Mail Manual) were seemingly last updated on 2 January, 2011. Was Australia choked off from financial transactions for some nefarious reason, regarding the reason why I wanted to send my money there in the first place?

I”ve sent USPS an email enquiring if there have been any recent changes in their policies toward Australia.

To repeat: WTF, anyone?

[EDIT: 27.01.2011]

I heard back from USPS, and I was directed to the archives of the International Mail Manual. The oldest copy available online is from January 2001, and even then Australia was not an option for sending International Money Orders.

Go here, and then click on Australia out the list of countries.

So, my accusations of WTF were not accurate. However, I still find it curious that it isn’t possible to send IMOs to a major country like Australia. In the past IMOs were send across the world!

Indeed, it seems anecdotially that the number of non-‘security risk’ countries has been shrinking. My partner has memories, for example, of sending IMOs to Ireland (no longer possible).

Other notable absences: United Kingdom, (‘special relationship’, anyone?) Germany, France… the list goes on.

Most curious, in my opinion.


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