Why Is USPS International So Slow?

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a vital cog in the global mailing and shipping industry. However, one common question that many customers have is, “Why is USPS International so slow?” The answer to this question is not straightforward, as several factors contribute to the perceived slowness of USPS International services. This article aims to delve into these factors and provide an in-depth understanding of USPS International’s delivery speed.


The perceived slowness of USPS International can be attributed to various factors such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, customs clearance procedures, reliance on commercial airlines for transportation, staff shortages, weather and traffic conditions, and incorrect or incomplete addresses. USPS is, however, taking steps to improve delivery speed and customer satisfaction. They also offer expedited services like Priority Mail Express International and Global Express Guaranteed.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

One of the significant factors affecting USPS International’s delivery speed is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to a surge in shipping volumes, straining the postal service’s capacity. Additionally, USPS has had to implement temporary suspensions of international mail acceptance for certain destinations due to COVID-19 related disruptions. These factors have contributed to longer delivery times for USPS International shipments.

Customs Clearance and Regulations

Another factor that can significantly impact USPS International’s delivery speed is the handling of international customs and regulations. Customs clearance procedures can cause delays if there are issues with a package’s contents or documentation. The international postal community has also moved towards requiring Advance Electronic Data (AED) for mail shipments, which can add another layer of data processing and verification, thereby impacting delivery times.

Limited Transportation Options and Staff Shortages

Unlike courier giants like FedEx, UPS, and DHL Express, which maintain their own fleet of cargo planes, USPS primarily partners with commercial airlines to transport most of their mail to international destinations. This reliance on commercial airlines can lead to potential delays due to issues with flight schedules or capacity. Furthermore, USPS has been grappling with staff shortages, which can contribute to slower delivery times.

Weather and Traffic Conditions

Unforeseen weather conditions can slow down the mailing process and stop mail pieces from moving ahead in the USPS infrastructure. Traffic conditions, particularly during peak holiday seasons, can also lead to delays in delivery.

Incomplete or Incorrect Address

One of the possible reasons why a package is stuck in transit is the wrong or incomplete address. If the address on a package is incorrect or incomplete, it may take longer for the package to be delivered or it may be returned to the sender.

Strategies to Expedite USPS International Shipments

While USPS International can be slow due to the factors mentioned above, customers can expedite their shipments by using services like Priority Mail Express International and Global Express Guaranteed (GXG). These services offer faster delivery times and include features like a money-back guarantee to select destinations, free package pickup, USPS Tracking, and insurance coverage.

USPS International Policies Regarding Late Delivery

USPS offers refunds in certain situations if the delivery standards for specific services were not met. Customers can initiate an inquiry process for undelivered or damaged articles. If the inquiry determines that the package is lost, the Postal Service will send a claim packet to the U.S. sender with instructions on how to file a claim.

Improving USPS International’s Delivery Speed and Customer Satisfaction

USPS International is taking several steps to improve delivery speed and customer satisfaction. These steps include streamlining the shipping process, enhancing customer service, focusing on international marketing, improving inbound international letter post performance, enhancing the international inquiry and claims process, collaborating with the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and implementing the Delivering for America plan.

In conclusion, several factors contribute to the perceived slowness of USPS International services. While some of these factors are beyond the control of USPS, the organization is taking several steps to improve its delivery speed and enhance customer satisfaction. It’s also important for customers to understand the different USPS International services available and choose the one that best meets their needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Advance Electronic Data (AED)?

Advance Electronic Data (AED) is a form of digital information about a mail shipment that is sent to the destination country’s customs agency before the shipment arrives. It typically includes details such as the sender’s name and address, the recipient’s name and address, and a description of the contents of the shipment.

What is the Universal Postal Union (UPU)?

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes and coordinates international postal services. It plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth flow of international mail by establishing rules and procedures for international mail exchanges.

What is the Delivering for America plan?

The Delivering for America plan is a ten-year strategic plan launched by USPS in 2021. The plan aims to transform the organization into a more efficient and competitive service provider. It includes investing in new delivery vehicles and infrastructure, enhancing the package delivery services, optimizing the mail processing network, and improving the customer experience.

What is Global Express Guaranteed (GXG)?

Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) is the fastest international shipping service offered by USPS. It provides delivery to over 190 countries with a money-back guarantee, and typically delivers in 1-3 business days.

How does USPS handle undelivered or damaged articles?

When a USPS International shipment is undelivered or damaged, the customer can initiate an inquiry process. If the inquiry determines that the package is lost or damaged, USPS will send a claim packet to the U.S. sender with instructions on how to file a claim for compensation.

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