Cargo being loaded on an airliner.

USPS Status and Service Disruptions on International Mail Shipments – Updated 4/9/2024

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) extends its economical and express services to over 180 countries worldwide.

Compared to 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.

USPS also partners with FedEx to manage select express services, such as USPS Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), and occasionally contracts with other air cargo operators for mail transportation as well.

When USPS letters and parcels arrive in foreign countries, they go through customs before being handed over to the destination country’s postal service.

Through well-established partnerships with these postal operators, USPS ensures the seamless delivery of mail and packages from U.S. addresses to global destinations.

While the disruptions caused by COVID-19 on commercial air transport have diminished, reliable air transportation and regional operational challenges may occasionally affect delivery operations.

Furthermore, external factors such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, labor disputes, conflicts (wars), and economic sanctions can contribute to delivery delays and delivery suspensions beyond USPS’s control.

In this post, we comprehensively track reported disruptions and service suspensions affecting the international delivery of USPS mail items.

This information was last updated on March 28, 2024, and draws from multiple sources, ensuring a more comprehensive view beyond USPS’s official service alerts.

USPS International Mail Suspensions

Presently, the U.S. Postal Service does not accept letters and parcels destined for the following countries:

  1. Afghanistan (Notice: 8/9/2021) – USPS has suspended services to Afghanistan due to ongoing conflict and security concerns, making mail transportation and delivery unsafe.
  2. Belarus (Notice: 7/22/2022) – The suspension of services to Belarus results from geopolitical tensions, civil unrest, and instability, rendering safe and reliable mail delivery difficult. Includes Global Express Guaranteed (GXP) Service.
  3. Brunei (Notice: 4/1/2020) – Brunei’s service suspension stems from logistical constraints and limited connectivity, leading to disruptions in international mail services to and from the country.
  4. Central African Republic (Notice 2/14/2024) – Suspension to this country is due to unavailable transport, potentially related to the conflict in neighboring Sudan.
  5. Haiti (Notice 3/15/2024) – Suspension to this country is due to unavailable transport, which is related to the country’s internal conflicts.
  6. Laos (Notice: 1/4/2024) – The suspension of services to Laos affects Priority Mail International (PMI), First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS), International Priority Airmail (IPA), and M-Bag items only.
  7. Myanmar (Last Update: 3/7/2024) – The suspension of services to Myanmar is a response to the country’s political turmoil and internal conflicts, which make it difficult to guarantee the secure and timely delivery of international mail. However, on March 7, 2024, USPS announced they will resume Priority Mail Express International and First Class-Mail International services effective March 8.
  8. Niue (Notice: 7/28/2023) – The Postal Service has suspended Priority Mail Express International (PMEI) service due to a lack of available transportation. All other services are available.
  9. Russia (Notice: 3/12/2022) – USPS’s suspension of services to Russia results from strained geopolitical relations and conflict, leading to challenges in ensuring consistent and secure international mail operations. Includes Global Express Guaranteed (GXP) Service.
  10. Sudan (Notice: 8/2/2023) – Ongoing conflicts, geopolitical tensions, and security concerns have prompted USPS to suspend services to Sudan as the local postal operator has indicated they cannot process international mail from the United States.
  11. Syria (Notice: 4/1/2020) – The suspension of services to Syria is a response to the country’s prolonged conflicts and security issues, which pose significant challenges to safe and timely mail delivery.
  12. Yemen (Notice: 4/1/2020) – Yemen’s suspension of services is a response to ongoing conflicts, security concerns, and instability, making it unsafe for USPS to transport and deliver mail.

These suspensions apply to the following mail services unless otherwise specified above:

  • 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)
  • Commercial ePacket (CeP)
  • M-Bag items

Note: Service suspensions do not impact the delivery of military and diplomatic mail (APO/FPO/DPO) or Global Express Guaranteed (GXP) Service shipments unless noted otherwise.

Do Not Mail: Customers are advised to avoid introducing mail items destined for the countries mentioned above into the USPS mail stream. Depositing mail or packages into mailboxes or daily pickups for these countries will result in their return to sender.

Similarly, U.S. Post Office retail locations will not accept mail for these countries when presented in person. If an item inadvertently enters the mail stream, USPS will return it to the sender, although this process may take some time.

Returned Mail Due to Suspended Mail Service: Upon return, USPS offers two options: refunding postage and fees for mail returned due to service suspension or allowing re-mailing with existing postage once service has been reinstated. In cases of re-mailing, senders must cross out the “Mail Service Suspended – Return to Sender” markings.

Impact of the Ukraine Conflict on USPS Shipments: USPS maintains acceptance of all mail types, except USPS Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) for Ukraine. Despite ongoing conflicts, the Ukrainian postal service continues operations where feasible.

However, sending mail or parcels to eastern and southeastern Ukraine is discouraged, especially in areas under Russia’s operational control. The mail service remains operational mainly in western and central Ukraine.

USPS Priority Mail Express International Money-Back Guarantee: The United States Postal Service temporarily suspended the money-back guarantee for USPS Priority Mail Express International shipments to all destinations as of October 25, 2021.

USPS Tracking Notes: USPS international tracking differs from private courier services like UPS, FedEx, and DHL. When mail leaves the U.S., the last scan will be from an International Service Center (ISC) in the U.S. Subsequently, USPS awaits updated tracking information from transit or destination countries.

More current tracking details may be available from the destination country’s postal service online tracking tools (see this list). This approach is beneficial for finding delivery/routing errors, delays, or exceptions that may not be transmitted to the U.S. Postal Service.

USPS Insurance Claim Update: During the COVID-19 emergency, USPS informed customers that processing insurance claims for lost or damaged international shipments might take up to 60 days. This duration may still apply, contingent upon the destination.

Refer to this link for the latest information on filing an international insurance claim with USPS. For shippers that use third-party insurance services, please get in touch with them for filing information. Frequently, they will require that a USPS claim be filed first.

USPS Refund Policy: Per DMM 604.9.2.3, customers are entitled to a full postage cost refund when service to the destination country is suspended. Refer to this PDF document for detailed refund procedures for Retail Postage, eVS, PC Postage, and BMEU entered mail.

Impact of New European Union VAT / Import Rules on USPS Shipments: As of July 1, 2021, new VAT rules affecting shipments to European Union (EU) member countries took effect. These rules have led to challenges for parcel shipments due to incomplete data provided by shippers. Customs and border services may detain or return such shipments to the sender.

New EU Customs Rules: On March 1, 2023, accurate and detailed information about the parcel contents became stricter, no longer allowing generic terms such as “books” or “magazines.” Therefore, including the recipient’s phone number is crucial to avoid delivery delays or the shipment’s return.

General Note on Return Shipments: International returns might be subjected to slower mail service and could take much longer to return to the sender.

USPS Service Disruptions Due to Local Delivery Issues

Canada (Last Update: April 9, 2024): Canada Post issues Red Alerts and Yellow Alerts for delivery or operational disruptions. Under a Red Alert, Canada Post has suspended all delivery operations, and under a Yellow Alert, Canada Post will do its best to deliver mail and packages, but delays should be expected.

Red Alerts:

  • None

Yellow Alerts:

  • None

Chile (February 8, 2024): Chilean Post advises that its services in the Valparaíso region are experiencing disruptions due to several fires. Shipments to and from the area are facing delays of at least 24 hours.

Until further notice, the following areas will not have home delivery services:

In Viña del Mar: Canal Beagle, Villa Dulce, Limonares, Villa Independencia, Villa Hermosa, El Olivar, El Salto, Chorrillos, Santa Julia, Miraflores, Achupallas, Reñaca Alto, Villa La Cruz, and Rukán.

In Quilpué: Canal Chacao, Pompeya Norte/Sur, Villa Olímpica, Colina de Oro, Población Argentina, Paso Hondo, and Los Pinos.

In Villa Alemana: Fundo El Rincón and Las Acacias.

Items sent to the mentioned areas will be delivered to the closest branch for pickup. Some Correos Chile branches may have adjusted operating hours, potentially causing delays in transporting, collecting, and delivering all types of mail.

Falkland Islands (August 28, 2023): Air transport is infrequent, and shipments may experience longer transit times and delivery delays.

Haiti (April 2, 2024): While USPS has suspended accepting mail and packages to the country, Office des Postes d’Haïti also advised postal operators globally that due to the unrest, there are no mail and packages leaving the country either.

Iceland (Last Update: March 20, 2024): Earthquakes and volcanic activity in Iceland continue to impact some local areas of the island, causing authorities to call for evacuations. Some deliveries may be impacted with residents having to pick up mail and packages from post offices.

Ireland (June 26, 2023): Customs delays due to new EU VAT rules may continue due to new regulations. Recipients must pay duties before items are released for delivery (no exceptions), and recipients only have 16 business days to make the payment before items are returned to the sender.

Israel (Update: April 9, 2024): The Israel Postal Company (Israel Post) advises that despite the ongoing conflict, operations at Israel Post have largely returned to normal across most regions of the country. Consequently, the nationwide force majeure situation has been officially ended.

However, Israel Post continues to face challenges in delivering mail to certain areas in the north and south that remain affected by the conflict, leading to the displacement of populations to alternative locations.

Approximately 76,000 individuals are currently residing in alternative dwellings, and the post is redirecting mail to these alternative locations whenever feasible.

In instances where entire populations have been relocated to a single new location, Israel Post forwards mail to addressees at their new addresses, albeit with anticipated delivery delays.

Furthermore, there are three localities where residents have been dispersed to various locations. In such cases, mail is forwarded exclusively to addressees who have personally informed Israel Post of their new addresses

Deliveries to Gaza, Khan Yunis and The West Bank continue to be impossible. Senders should refrain from sending mail and packages to this area.

Japan (January 3, 2024): Japan Post warns that all inbound mail (letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items) is being delayed to areas affected by the earthquake in the Hokuriku region on January 1, 2024. This includes all of Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui prefectures and parts of Hokkaido, Yamagata, Nagano, and Hyogo prefectures.

Inbound international traffic and customs clearance operations are operating as normal, and there is no disruption or suspension in accepting all mail types destined for the affected regions. Shippers should only expect delivery delays.

Kiribati (June 26, 2023): Flights to Kiribati are infrequent, and senders should expect delivery delays of 2 to 3 months.

Madagascar (August 8, 2024): Madagascar Post advises that Cyclone Gamane severely affected the northern and eastern regions of Madagascar on March 27, 2024. The floods continue to hinder the transportation of all mail categories between the office of exchange and delivery centers in these areas, leading to delivery delays until further notice.

Mexico (February 5, 2024): Hurricane Otis, which swept through the Acapulco region on October 26, 2023, still affects mail delivery tracking in specific areas/postal codes due to power and connectivity issues. While basic mail operations have largely resumed for letters and small parcels, Servicio Postal Mexicano advises that tracking data may not be reliable.

  • Ayutla de los Libres: 39200 – 39229
  • Acapulco de Juárez: 39300 – 39937
  • San Marcos: 39960 – 39997
  • Petatlán: 40830 – 40859
  • Zihuatanejo de Azueta: 40880 – 40897
  • Técpan de Galeana: 40900 – 40929
  • Atoyac de Álvarez: 40930 – 40958
  • Coyuca de Benítez: 40970 – 40997
  • San Luis Acatlán: 41600 – 41637
  • Ometepec: 41700 – 41736
  • Cuautepec: 41840 – 41860

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6 Comments

  1. Jim Morton says:

    Is there any way to inquire with the USPS about Bhutan ? They receive mail from all other countries and have direct flights from Bangkok to Paro. I think this has been an oversight on the USPS part to lift the suspension. We do charity packages to nurses and single mothers and others and it’s been 3 years since they suspended for Covid . There is no strife or labor problems in Bhutan. I have to order items from other countries and have them shipped direct because the USPS insists that they are closed, but the country has been reopened for 6 months at least. If you have any pull or contacts that I can try I’d appreciate any help. Thanks in advance . Jim Morton

    1. Hmmm. That is an interesting observation with Bhutan. I can only guess that USPS does not have a contract with an airline that services the country and that is why it’s still on the list…

      Richard

  2. I have a magazine in a brown cardboard envelope coming to USA from UK. Sent 3/3/23 from UK, with tracking and all declarations listed.
    Arrived in US 3/09/23. Stuck in Chicago customs, 15 days now.
    Same person sent 2 other mags, same envelope, tracking, declarations on the same day. Those were in the recipients hands in 7 days. What do they do in Chicago, why would they hold a pkg that is the same as the others she mailed?
    I have had other magazines that I ordered arrive in a week from UK.
    USPS-? Maybe Fed-EX or DHL are the better options…

    1. FedEx or DHL have better handling on their tracking and when items get stuck in customs, they can more efficiently help to get them unstuck. With USPS, it’s always more difficult. Could also be that the package was damaged somehow and is lost. Keep in mind that many scans are group scans, meaning once the container or bag that carries a mail piece arrives, they only scan the arrival of the container, not the individual items in it.

      Probably worth a call to USPS to see if they can help with this.

      Richard

  3. Hey Richmard,

    I mailed an envelope to Ghana but it’s been 22 days and the item has been delivered. For contest it is just documents and so no value can be placed in it.

    What do you think might be the reason for the delay and how can follow up. Several calls to USPS have yielded no results.

  4. I’ve shipped a package to Ghana 30 days ago and the recipient has still not received the package. I began a claim preemptively but there’s been no resolution. Ghana post says it will take 90 days to resolve the claim. I’m unsure why there has been such a delay.

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