Tag Archives: international mail

More COVID-19 Postal Updates: Central Europe Edition

Time seems to drag on forever when waiting for a pen in the mail. Packages to central Europe are now traveling by ship, so expect several months of lag time.

Further shipping delays to central Europe have prompted me to check in once again with the United States Postal Service. A shipment to Switzerland is more than a month overdue. (Luckily for customers in the United States, the United States Postal Service is on time with their regular 2- to 5-day delivery.)

Thus, I spoke with an international mail agent at the USPS. We have long been accustomed to daily flights to and from Europe for the mail in all of its countries. COVID-19 has completely disrupted that service and forced the USPS to adopt an old 19th century way of doing things: SHIPS!

According to the woman I spoke with, the USPS is chartering a cargo vessel to service central European nations. It picks up all of the accumulated mail from about 10 nations it services in New York. Then it sails them to the Netherlands (for Switzerland, at least) and several other ports around The Continent. The packages from the U.S. go through customs in port and then get driven by truck or train to their final destination countries that sort them and deal with them as they normally would. The ship then sails back to the U.S. with all of the mail to be delivered here from central Europe.

The whole process takes about 2 to 3 months, it would appear. Once we have successfully dealt with COVID-19, the old modern way of using planes will resume. It appears that letters might still be going by planes but not packages.

For those looking for faster service to Europe, it looks as if DHL and FedEx are shipping at their usual times, but their rates are insane. Whereas it costs the USPS $45 to ship a pen in a small box, these other services are chargeing $150 to $200 or more, depending on the size and insurance levels.

International Shipping Delays

International Shipping has seen significant delays due to the lack of international air travel.

Several of our international orders lately have gone noticeably late in arriving. I spent more than two hours on the phone today trying to track down a shipment that was 28 days late in arriving. What I learned from the United States Postal Service employees that I spoke with is as follows:

• COVID-19 is having a terrible impact on international mail
• Most of my international orders are stuck in U.S. customs at O’Hare Airport in Chicago
• There are so few flights abroad that the mail is getting seriously backed up
• U.S. Customs will hold outbound packages for up to 45 days trying to find a flight out of O’Hare (the world’s busiest airport) to the desired country.
• After 45 days, the U.S. customs will return the packages to the United States Postal Service to take back to the senders with a full refund of their shipping expenses.
• Mail service to and from 106 nations is temporarily suspended as of June 12, 2020.
• Most European countries, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand still have mail service to and from the United States. However, it will be severely delayed.
• Once a package arrives in another country, often those countries’ customs agents quarantine incoming packages for 21 days before sorting them for customs duties and delivery.

I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience of these delays.

For American customers, so far, we are not having any difficulties with intra-U.S. shipping. Most orders are arriving within the usual 3 to 5 days. Priority Mail has slowed a little, but, so far, seemingly not by more than a day.

These are extreme and unusual times. Many of our shipping woes will vanish when the pandemic is outlasted. When air traffic returns to normal, international shipping will get back on track and the suspensions will be lifted.