TRACKING INTERNATIONAL PACKAGES – helpful tips from IMS

What we’ve learned about tracking packages …….

  1. Packages will get an acceptance scan at IMS the same day we receive the packages.  This includes the PMEI – PMI services, Commercial ePacket, and packages sent via IPA (Endicia integrations only).
  2. The number of scans a package gets will vary by service. Packages sent via the PMEI and PMI services will normally get more scans (visibility) while the ePacket service will average about 3-5 scans including the acceptance scan and delivery scan.
  3. Some countries are better at this than others. In order for the USPS to include a country for the ePacket service as an example, they must be able to give a delivery scan on 90% plus of the packages – our overall average has been 95% plus.  A delivery scan is not guaranteed.
  4. Just because a package does not show scans does not mean it is not moving. Sometimes barcodes are smudged, torn, or any number of other things that can render them “unreadable”.  It can also mean that someone on the other end just for whatever reason didn’t scan a package – it happens. The 5% on average that don’t get a delivery scan are more than likely to have been delivered, just not scanned upon delivery.
  5. If customs holds a package (for whatever reason), they are “supposed” to notify the recipient.  We have no control over whether that’s done or not. 
  6. Packages may go into a seemingly black hole with no activity for a period of time.  Australia as an example, only gives us a delivery scan for ePacket packages – no scans when passing through customs, etc.  Again, this does not mean your packages are not moving and/or delivered (see #8 below).
  7. If a package shows to have passed through customs or a “facility” and then goes dormant for a few days, have your customer check with their local post office as they could be holding it.
  8. You can also enter your USPS tracking numbers on the foreign post’s website and SOMETIMES get additional scan activity.  Ask us and we'll send you the links.
  9. In some extenuating circumstances, we can enlist the help of contacts we have at USPS headquarters in DC, but that’s not an option when looking for a single package.

I hope this helps when fielding customer inquiries and managing expectations.

 

Effective April 30, 2017 the Commercial ePacket service will be available to Japan bringing the total number of countries to 30 with more being added.  Japan will be in the newly created Country Group 6.  Related, Brazil will be moved from Country Group 15 to Country Group 10.

Please let us know if you'd like information about this or other IMS Parcel Services.

We get a lot of questions about what to expect when tracking packages sent via the different services so I think it's time to share some information for future reference.  Your tracking results will vary by service level, destination country, and how you run your package labels (online, PC postage, shipping software, etc).  Additionally, the percentage of packages that actually get a delivery scan will vary too - they should all be well over 90% but some countries are just plain better than others at this.

First, we'll look at the various USPS service levels ...........

First Class Package International (FCPI):  Tracking can only be described as "limited" at best and is not to be relied upon.  The USPS does claim on their website that "FCPI includes electronic USPS Delivery Confirmation International when you ship online to select destinations".  Safely put, your results will vary.

IMS "International Priority Airmail" (IPA):  The IPA service does not offer door to door tracking.  IMS customers using Endicia to print labels will however at least get an acceptance scan here in Kalamazoo.  Additional scans from there are a bonus and again, not to be relied upon. 

IMS "Commercial ePacket" (CeP):  This is a fully trackable (door to door) service available now to 31 of the most popular countries (including the two news ones mentioned above).  For about HALF the cost of FCPI, you won't get quite the visibility of a PMEI or PMI package, but you do get a delivery scan (scan rates are about 95%, some countries better, some a little lower).  For an example, cut and paste the tracking number LX595336037US to USPS.com

IMS "PMEI and PMI" (both "Standard" and "Presort Drop Ship"):  Fully trackable services to most countries with more visibility (scans).  For an example, cut and paste the tracking number CY008968223US to USPS.com

Once in a while, you'll hear from customers that the package shows "Delivered" when actually it hasn't been or you'd just like some additional information on the whereabouts.   For many countries, you can actually enter the USPS tracking number into the destination country's postal web site and get more information.  The country specific links for some of the most popular countries are as follows:

Effective October 2, 2016 the Commercial ePacket service will be available to Hong Kong.  This brings the total number of countries to 29.  Hong Kong will be in Price Group 11.  Please let us know if you would like additional information about this trackable, cost-effective option for your eCommerce packages weighing 4.4 lbs or less.

OTTAWA – Canada Post is pleased to have reached tentative short-term agreements with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). The agreements will avert a work disruption, bringing much-needed certainty in the postal system for our employees and customers. Canadians can now use the postal system with confidence. This is especially important as Canadian businesses large and small are already planning for the upcoming holiday shipping season.

These agreements are for a period of two years, rather than the typical four-year contracts negotiated in the past. The issues facing the Corporation, with declining mail volumes and a growing pension obligation, are complex. This approach provides more time for thoughtful discussion and analysis on how to best address these issues without the ongoing threat of a work disruption. The agreements must be ratified by members.

Canada Post would also like to thank the mediators for their help in bringing a neutral perspective to the discussions.