With the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency continuing to spread around the globe, mail and small parcel operations are impacted worldwide.
Between a shortage of commercial passenger airlines to carry the mail and local authorities and transit/destination postal services shutting down or restricting services, sending international packages with the U.S. Postal Service is resulting in longer transit times on most shipments.
This post was last updated on 12/17/2020 with with the following changes:
- Removed Thailand service alert
Also, the bottom of the post (Additional Resources) has links relevant to USPS shipping during the coronavirus emergency.
Service Suspensions (12/17/2020)
The U.S. Postal Service does not accept shipments to the following countries because of either lack of transportation or suspension of mail service in that country:
- French Guiana
- Myanmar (Burma)
- Republic of Congo
- Reunion (Bourbon)
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Miquelon)
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
*Note: Cuba’s post advises that all international postal operations have resumed following the reopening of Havana’s airport for commercial flights. USPS still lists the country as a no-go due to the unavailability of transportation. It appears U.S. airlines are not operating commercial flights yet to the islands which may be the reason USPS is not accepting mail to Cuba.
Customers are asked to refrain from entering items into the USPS mail system going to these countries. Mail or packages may be returned to the shipper.
These service disruptions affect Priority Mail Express International® (PMEI), Priority Mail International® (PMI), First-Class Mail International® (FCMI), First-Class Package International Service® (FCPIS®), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®), International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®), and M-Bag® items.
For any returned item bearing a customs form, the Postal Service will, upon request, refund postage and fees on mail returned due to the suspension of service.
For all other returned items not bearing a customs declarations form, the Postal Service will, upon request, refund postage and fees on mail returned due to the suspension of service, or the sender may remail them with the existing postage once service has been restored. When remailing under this option, customers must cross out the markings “Mail Service Suspended — Return to Sender.”
Unless otherwise noted, service suspensions to a particular country do not affect the delivery of military and diplomatic mail.
USPS Shifted Mail From Air Cargo to Sea Transport During Summer
During the summer, the U.S. Postal Service shifted a large backlog of shipments from air to sea transport due to a lack of air cargo capacity.
There have been no known sea transports of Priority Mail items since the last shipment in June and all shipments that arrived in the destination countries should be delivered by now.
Please see tracking and insurance information below if items have not been delivered that were sent in late Spring and the Summer months.
If a mail item shows on USPS tracking it has left left the United States (last scan is from an International Service Center or ISC), under normal circumstances, the U.S. Postal Service has no further visibility on that item until a transit country or the destination country provides updated tracking information to its system.
Sometimes, it is possible to get more updated tracking by using the destination country’s postal service online tracking tools if the item has entered the country. (List from Wikipedia of National Postal Services)
This is especially true if the shipment has delivery or routing error, delays, or exceptions as the comments on the country’s postal system may provide more information on the status of the mail items than the update transmitted back to the USPS.
Furthermore, tracking scans of individual mail pieces typically only occur at the local and regional pickup locations, when the parcel enters a country’s customs facility, and at the local or regional destination locations. For tracking information in between these locations, mail pieces are typically tracked in groupings packed inside cargo containers.
There are probably thousands of cargo containers with mail spread all over the world sitting at airport facilities and transit stations waiting to be processed to their next destination.
It will likely take weeks (or months…?) for some mail pieces to move again once these operations resume and cargo capacity becomes available to continue the transit of the cargo containers.
Insurance Claim Update
The U.S. Postal Service is now advising it may take up to 60 days to process an insurance claim for lost or damaged international shipments.
We have an extensive article on this topic that update just like this post as additional information becomes available.
Please follow this link for more information on how filing international insurance claims with USPS has changed and how it may even affect third-party insurance services.
Global Express Guaranteed Service – 11/16/2020
The Postal Service is temporarily suspending international mail acceptance of Global Express Guarantee (GXG) to the following destinations:
Bhutan, Eritrea, Laos, Lesotho, Norfolk Island
According to DMM 604.9.2.3, customers are entitled to a full refund of their postage costs when service to the country of destination is suspended.
The detailed procedures to obtain refunds for Retail Postage, eVS, PC Postage, and BMEU entered mail can be found through the following https://postalpro.usps.com/international-refunds
List of Common Export Countries for U.S. Merchants
Here is the latest update from international postal operators regarding in-country operations. The list is divided into sections:
- North America & Caribbean
- Europe (incl. EuroAsia)
- South America
Next to each country is the date of the last guidance the international postal operator has issued which applies to shipments sent via the U.S. Postal Service. We will update this post as new information becomes available.
If a country is not listed here, the latest advisory from the postal operator in that country indicates the mail service is operating with minimal delays. Shippers should still expect some delays in countries not listed, especially as some countries may institute localized restrictions to manage COVID-19 outbreaks.
North America & Caribbean
Canada – 9/22/2020
Delivery procedure changes remain in effect. Items requiring a signature, proof of age or the collection of customs fees will continue to be delivered directly to a post office for pickup by the customer.
Additionally, Canada Post has restored a 15-day limit for customers to retrieve their parcels.
The post continues to experience significant disruption to its activities and the force majeure situation previously declared for international mail remains in effect
Jamaica – 12/2/2020
Jamaica Post advises that the government has extended the national curfew until Dec. 31.
While the curfew is in place, revised working shifts/hours will continue to apply across the entire postal network, impacting on sorting operations, mail delivery and the dispatch of mail vans, as well as the timely provision of EDI messaging updates and responses to online customer inquiries.
The force majeure situation previously announced continues to apply, with an impact on quality of service for all types of mail, including inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items.
Mexico – 11/10/2020
Mexico’s post advises that offices of exchange continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to government measures to combat the coronavirus, the Mexican customs authority will be operating with a reduced workforce until January 2021.
As a result, delays are to be expected in the delivery of shipments.
Trinidad & Tobago – 10/8/2020
Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation advises that borders are closed to limit spread of COVID-19 and there are no inbound or outbound commercial flights until further notice.
Only scheduled cargo flights from the United States are allowed and the post is unable to receive or send international dispatches.
Europe & Eurasia
Belgium – 11/12/2020
Belgium’s post advises that the government has announced a new lockdown until at least Dec. 13 to combat a second wave of COVID-19.
The post is making every effort to ensure continuity of all services however there could be delays in processing and delivery of all types of mail items throughout the country.
The post will continue to provide its services according to safety guidelines. All mail requiring signature on delivery will be delivered with the post employee signing in place of the customer (but in their presence).
Czech Republic – 11/2/2020
Czech Republic’s post advises that the country has been hit with a second wave of the coronavirus and a state of emergency is extended until Nov. 20.
Wide-ranging restrictions include mandatory closure of shops and selected service providers.
The post will continue to provide postal services to the extent possible, however, quality of service for all types of inbound and outbound mail cannot be guaranteed.
Cyprus – 9/29/2020
Cyprus Post advises that it is now possible to send dispatches of all mail classes to Cyprus as a result of a number of air carriers operating flights to the country.
However, delivery delays are possible because of social distancing and other measures to combat COVID-19.
Denmark – 11/10/2020
Denmark’s post advises that the government has implemented new measures in seven municipalities to minimize spread of COVID-19.
Delivery delays are expected in the affected areas until Dec. 3. Quality standards for all products will be affected by this situation of force majeure.
Estonia’s post advises that inbound items will be delivered at agreed delivery standards with some changes to signature procedures for registered letters and other shipments.
France – 12/2/2020
The French Post (La Poste) advises that the government announced a gradual relaxation of the blocking measures in various phases until at least January 20, 2021 given the facts related to the COVID-19 situation.
La Poste will comply with all measures required by the French government to protect the health of its employees and the population. As a result, it may have to adjust the opening hours and operations of its post offices and processing and distribution centers.
During the end-of-year period, delivery delays are possible and delivery standards cannot be guaranteed. La Poste is doing its utmost to ensure customer satisfaction and operational continuity.
The restrictions established in previous messages regarding the inability to guarantee service standards will continue to apply, and the force majeure situation will remain in effect until at least 20 January 2021.
Greece – 11/6/2020
Greece’s post advises that the government will implement a countrywide lockdown beginning Nov. 7 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will impact collection and delivery of domestic and international mail.
Grenada – 9/21/2020
Grenada’s post has resumed full business operations with the reopening of borders to regional and international flights.
However, some regional airports remain closed and international flights from Canada and the United Kingdom have not yet resumed, which is affecting receipt and delivery of mail.
The post is working to find alternatives.
Italy – 11/5/2020
Italy’s post advises that based on the new measures put in force by the Italian government to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the post has restored the addressee’s signature upon delivery of parcels and registered and insured items whenever the addressee’s condition is fully compliant with the preventive measures in place.
Italy’s post is committed to adopting different delivery procedures, agreed with the addressee, in the event of specific situations related to the current health emergency.
With regard to legal acts, if the addressee’s condition does not allow safe delivery, a notice of delivery with instructions for item collection will be placed in the addressee’s mailbox.
Quality standards for all products will continue to be affected by this force majeure until further notice.
Moreover, owing to the new wave of the pandemic, certain business categories have been closed or are operating with limited opening hours, and restrictions may be applied to postal service in critical areas.
Italy’s post is constantly monitoring the situation and timely updating the dedicated section of its website, available at www.poste.it/emergenza-covid19.html.
Latvia – 12/9/2020
Latvia’s post advises that the government has extended a state of emergency until at least January 11. A previously declared force majeure is extended until further notice.
Postal services will continue to function with restrictions such as reduced working hours in post offices and reduction of the workforce to minimize contact between people. Items normally requiring the addressee’s signature upon delivery will be handed over without signature.
Lithuania – 11/12/2020
Lithuania’s post advises that the government has introduced a nationwide lockdown through Nov. 29, which could be extended.
To eliminate customer interaction at the doorstep and meet physical distancing requirements, the post has suspended collection of a signature on delivery for letter-post items.
The lockdown measures will affect processing and delivery of all types of postal items. Service delivery standards still cannot be guaranteed and a force majeure situation remains in force.
Malta – 11/20/2020
Malta’s post advises that inbound and outbound mail services continue to be severely affected by limited airline operations due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The post also has adapted its operations as appropriate to comply with national health guidelines. The post cannot guarantee delivery standards and times.
Delays in mail processing and delivery are expected and compliance with quality of service standards will continue to be affected by force majeure.
Netherlands – 12/2/2020
Netherlands Post, (PostNL), advises that owing to the COVID-19 situation in the Netherlands, and the Dutch Government’s directives in relation to the partial lockdown in force since 14 October 2020 to combat the rising number of infections, PostNL has adapted its operations to ensure the continuity of all the services provided to customers while protecting the health of postal workers and the general public.
Because of the partial lockdown, previous restrictions regarding handover procedures will continue to apply, and PostNL may not be able to ensure that all the normal inbound and outbound mail standards are met.
Netherlands post advises that it has made further changes to the delivery procedure for all international inbound items that would normally require a signature. It no longer provides a recipient’s signature for registered items, parcels or express mail service items.
Alternative proofs of delivery have been implemented, including signature of the delivery person, last three digits of the addressee’s identity card or simply a proof of delivery scan event.
Poland – 6/27/2020
Poland’s post advises that measures aimed at slowing spread of COVID-19 are still in force and will continue to affect services.
In the case of parcel post, insured items and express mail service items addressed to persons in quarantine, the addressee will be contacted by telephone if possible before attempted delivery.
If delivery is not possible the item will be returned to the post office for temporary storage and no notice will be left. The delivery will be attempted again once the quarantine is over.
International air traffic remains open but operations are limited to a few airlines at the international airport in Warsaw. Poland is accepting mail for the United States and a reduced number of other countries.
Portugal – 11/19/2020
Portugal’s post advises that the situation in Portugal with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic has deteriorated.
Therefore, the Portuguese government has declared a new state of emergency, effective Nov. 9, which will be reassessed every two weeks.
During the state of emergency, postal services will continue to function, subject to the restrictions imposed by reinforced measures aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health of staff and customers.
Owing to social distancing measures, such as staggered shift patterns, and the implementation of mandatory isolation and quarantine requirements, Portugal’s post will be operating with a reduced workforce.
The processing and delivery of all types of service will be affected, including inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items.
As a result, Portugal’s post is unable to meet its contractual obligations, particularly with regard to delivery times for letters, parcels and EMS items, standard rules for collection of signature on delivery, hand delivery, tracking of shipments (capture and transmission times), processing of cash on delivery, and insured items.
Therefore, the situation of force majeure previously declared will continue to apply until further notice.
Slovakia – 10/23/2020
Slovakia’s post advises that the government has declared a three-week partial lockdown effective Oct. 24.
Postal services will continue with restrictions and impacts to workforce and post office hours. Items normally requiring an addressee’s signature upon delivery will be handed over without signature.
These measures will affect processing and delivery of all types of services, including outbound and inbound mail, with an impact on quality of service. The force majeure remains in place.
Slovenia – 11/20/2020
Slovenia’s post advises that the government has extended a formal declaration of a national COVID-19 epidemic for an additional 30 days, until mid-December.
Further lockdown restrictions have been introduced throughout the country.
The post continues to provide services but will operate with a reduced workforce. Processing and delivery of all types of inbound and outbound mail will continue to be affected and the post is unable to guarantee compliance with agreed standards.
A situation of force majeure will continue to apply until further notice.
South America & Central America
Honduras – 10/27/2020
Honduras Post advises that a countrywide lockdown will continue until Nov. 1. The post is gradually resuming its activities but with reduced staff on site.
This will have an impact on the quality of sorting, distribution and delivery of incoming mail as well as processing of inquiries and international accounts.
Peru – 9/29/2020
Peru’s post advises that certain restrictions to commercial flights worldwide due to COVID-19 are hampering normal exchange of postal items. A state of emergency remains in place in the country.
Hong Kong – 12/4/2020
Hongkong Post advises that the government has announced special work arrangements, effective Dec. 1, 2020, in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the processing of all inbound and outbound mail (letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items), as well as the delivery of inbound mail, will be affected until further notice.
Malaysia – 10/27/2020
Malaysia Post advises that government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been imposed in Selangor and Putrajaya, resulting in a reduced workforce.
This has affected processing capacity at the post’s office of exchange and hub at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and there are significant processing delays for inbound international mail.
Maldives – 11/2/2020
Maldives’ post advises that processing of all inbound mail is now back to normal. However, acceptance of outbound mail for some countries is still temporarily suspended in cases where international postal items are not being accepted or where flights from the Maldives are limited or canceled.
Samoa – 11/20/20
Samoa’s post advises that the government has extended a state of emergency until Dec. 23 and restrictions remain unchanged.
It is able to send only express mail service items to the United States. Normal parcel and letter post remain suspended.
Also, all inbound mail is subject to a seven-day quarantine before being processed and delivered. The post says to expect delays.
Sri Lanka – 11/10/2020
Sri Lanka’s post advises that the government has implemented new measures to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps will impact delivery standards.
The post is not able to guarantee that it will meet agreed standards. However, all mail items sent to Sri Lanka will be processed and delivered, subject to certain restrictions imposed by the government.
The office of exchange and mail sorting centers are operational, but certain areas remain in lockdown.
International airports remain closed to all regular passenger flights, and outbound mail transport is restricted to a limited number of destinations with available air carriers
Africa & Middle East
Israel – 11/10/2020
Israel’s post advises a lockdown declared by Israeli health authorities due to the coronavirus is gradually being lifted and restrictions have been eased, particularly for businesses.
Social distancing requirements between employees and customers and among employees remain in place.
There are impacts to certain delivery points, procedures for items requiring signature and deliveries to areas under quarantine.
Inbound and outbound mail is being processed for all destinations, depending on availability of flights and requirements of designated operators.
Lebanon – 11/13/2020
Lebanon’s post advises that the government has announced a new nationwide lockdown Nov. 14-30 to combat a resurgence of COVID-19.
The post’s managerial and customer service departments will remain open but operate with a reduced workforce.
Similarly, the distribution network and office of exchange will continue to process mail flows but at reduced capacity.
Post offices will be subject to partial closures. Beirut’s airport will remain open and continue to send and receive mail dispatches, with outbound mail being sent only to destinations for which air transport capacity remains available.
These measures will have an impact on delivery standards for letters, parcels and express mail service items. Therefore, the post is unable to guarantee compliance with agreed standards.
South Africa – 12/12/2020
South African Post has advised that international inbound postal operations are now running as normal. Outbound services to certain countries have resumed where flights are available. However, route availability is still limited, local restrictions and possible backlogs mean delays may still be observed.
There are no known or widespread service interruptions in the Oceania region