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How long does it take to send a barrel to Jamaica?

How long does it take to send a barrel to Jamaica? || Answered By Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

Most Christmas-themed movies usually involve children tearing the colourful gift wrapping off Christmas gifts that are stuffed under the Christmas tree.

While this tradition does occur in Jamaica, for "Barrel children" things are a little different. Instead of under the Christmas tree, their Christmas gifts are delivered in tightly packed barrels at the wharf!

For those who don’t know, Barrel children or “Barrel pickney” (as Jamaicans call them) are children whose parents have migrated.

These children receive barrels from abroad in order to assist with their maintenance. Hence the term “barrel pickney”.

The custom of migrants sending barrels from abroad to Jamaica has been a withstanding practice. Loved ones who have migrated abroad in search of greener pastures habitually send barrels filled with dry food items, clothing and toiletries to family and friends back home.

In almost every Jamaican home, you’re bound to find a fibre board or plastic barrel with addresses printed all over it.

One of the most popular items sent in barrels is Irish Spring bath soap bars. Don't judge me, that's just what I see :-)

What did you typically receive in your barrels from abroad? Post it in the comment below.

But how long do you have to wait for your barrel full of goodies?

Well, this depends on various factors.

Factors That Determine How Long A Barrel Takes

  1. Distance

    The first thing we need to think about is the distance.
    Where is the barrel coming from? Similarly to travelling, the further the country the longer the duration.

    For instance, when a family member of mine shipped a barrel from Florida it took between 3 to 4 days to arrive in Jamaica.

    The United States is a close neighbour to Jamaica, therefore it takes the least time to reach here. If you’re shipping from the United States then it will take between 7 to 14 days, depending on the State.

    Shipping a barrel from the UK takes a bit more time, approximately 14 to 21 days.

    Similarly to the UK, shipping from Canada takes between 14 to 21 days.

  2. Time Of Year

    Another point that should be taken into consideration is the time of year that the barrel is shipped. The busy periods are usually coupled with an increase in time to arrive at the destination and an increase in clearance time.

    The busy periods usually occur during the holidays.

    • Easter – March and April
    • Summer: festivals, Independence and back-to-school – June, July and August
    • Christmas – November and December

    Christmas, however, is regarded as the busiest season, since gift-giving is the theme.

    To avoid the last-minute rush and ensure that your barrels arrive at a reasonable time, I'd highly encourage you to plan your shipping before the busy periods kick in.

  3. How often does the shipping company that you’ve utilised ship to Jamaica?

    This is another pertinent question when considering how long it takes cargo to arrive. Most shipping companies that I’ve come in contact with ship to Jamaica on a weekly basis.

    So, to be totally clear, ask your shipping company in regard to this information. Shipping with a reputable company gives you a greater level of assurance though.

Other Important Considerations

While on the topic of planning your shipment, here are some other useful tips:

  • Having a strong foundation is important in packing your barrel. A firm foundation is able to withstand the other items loaded at the top. So, it’s suggested that items like canned food be loaded at the bottom.

  • Fragile items should be wrapped to ensure protection. For instance, my family abroad usually wrap glass items with cloth or bubble wrap. For reinforcement, you should also pack it around soft materials.

  • For obvious reasons, it’s better to pack items made out of plastic rather than glass.

  • When packing bottles you should wrap the bottle covers with tape to reduce the chance of the cover coming close. In addition, bottles can also be placed in plastic bags before putting them in the barrel.

  • Clothing and other fabric items should be placed in plastic bags for protection against the occurrence of spillage. These items are best placed at the top of the barrel.

  • If you are packing scented items, such as perfumes, body wash, lotions and bathing soap, these items should be placed far away from food items. Better yet, if you’re packing more than one barrel then separate food items from scented products.

  • When labelling the barrel ensure that the shipper’s address and receiver’s address are clearly displayed on the cover and sides of the barrel.

  • When the barrels are being cleared, remind the recipient to bring along all necessary documents (TRN, ID, Bill of Lading etc.).

I hope this has been helpful. Happy shipping!



Ordany Moving & Storage Co.Ltd. (2016). All You Need To Know About Shipping A Barrel To Jamaica. Retrieved from Ordany Moving & Storage Co.Ltd:

Comments for How long does it take to send a barrel to Jamaica?

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Feb 26, 2023
by: Uncle Peep

Thanks for the info on barrels. I plan to fly from here (Vancouver, Canada) to Mobay in October and I will first send a barrel and claim it as unaccompanied baggage to reduce the duty fees. Quite a bit cheaper that way.

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