The United States Postal Service (USPS) extends its economical and express services to over 180 countries worldwide. In contrast 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.
Additionally, USPS partners with FedEx to manage select express services, such as USPS Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), and occasionally engages with other air cargo operators for mail transportation.
Upon arrival in foreign nations, USPS letters and parcels are handed over to the respective postal service of the destination country. Through well-established partnerships with these postal operators, USPS ensures the seamless delivery of mail 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 persist.
Furthermore, external factors such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, labor disputes, conflicts, and economic sanctions can contribute to delivery delays and limitations beyond the control of USPS.
Here, we provide comprehensive tracking of reported disruptions and service suspensions affecting the international delivery of USPS mail items.
This information draws from multiple sources, ensuring an up-to-date account that extends beyond USPS service alerts. As of the latest update on November 16, 2023, this information includes the removal of alerts that have been resolved or are no longer active.
USPS International Mail Suspensions
Presently, the U.S. Postal Service does not accept letters and parcels destined for the following countries:
- Afghanistan (Notice: 8/9/2021) – USPS has suspended services to Afghanistan due to ongoing conflict and security concerns, making it unsafe for mail transportation and delivery.
- Belarus (Notice: 7/22/2022) – The suspension of services to Belarus is a result of geopolitical tensions, civil unrest, and instability in the country, rendering safe and reliable mail delivery difficult. Includes Global Express Guaranteed (GXP) Service.
- Bhutan (Notice: 4/1/2020) – Bhutan’s service suspension is due to a combination of logistical challenges and limited transport options, making it impractical to ensure consistent and timely mail delivery.
- 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.
- Laos (Notice: 4/1/2020) – The suspension of services to Laos is primarily due to logistical limitations and constraints, making it challenging to maintain efficient and reliable international mail operations.
- Myanmar (Notice: 6/2/2023) – The suspension of services to Myanmar is a response to the country’s political turmoil and internal conflicts, making it difficult to guarantee the secure and timely delivery of international mail.
- Niue (Notice: 7/28/2023) – The Postal Service has suspended Priority Mail Express International (PMEI) service only due to lack of unavailable transportation.
- Russia (Notice: 3/12/2022) – USPS’s suspension of services to Russia is a result of strained geopolitical relations and conflict, leading to challenges in ensuring consistent and secure international mail operations. Includes Global Express Guaranteed (GXP) Service.
- 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 are unable to process international mail from the United States.
- 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 the safe and timely delivery of mail.
- Yemen (Notice: 4/1/2020) – Yemen’s suspension of services is a response to ongoing conflicts, security concerns, and instability in the country, 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 aforementioned countries 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. In case an item inadvertently enters the mail stream, USPS will eventually 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 for Ukraine. Despite ongoing conflicts, the Ukrainian postal service continues operations where feasible.
However, sending mail or parcels to eastern and south-eastern Ukraine, especially areas under Russia’s operational control, is discouraged. The mail service remains largely operational in western and central Ukraine.
USPS Priority Mail Express International Money-Back Guarantee Suspension: USPS 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.
Accessing more current tracking details may be available from the destination country’s postal service online tracking tools (see this list). This approach is particularly helpful 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 height of 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 contact them for filing information. Frequently, they will require that a USPS claim is 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 such shipments or return them to the sender.
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, it is now crucial to include the recipient’s phone number to avoid delays or the return of the shipment.
Note: 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
Greece (Update Notice: 10/2/2023) – Greece’s post has advised that Greek territory has been hit for the second time this month by heavy rainstorms, flooding and landslides. Many of the post’s domestic operations have been disrupted, including collection, transportation and delivery. The transportation and processing of inbound and outbound mail (letter-post, parcel-post, and EMS items) is affected, and delays are to be expected in the delivery of mail throughout Greece.
Ireland (Updated Notice: 6/26/2023) – Customs delays due to new EU VAT customs rules. 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: 10/10/2023) – Service delays are expected due to limited transportation capacity to Israel.
Italy (Notice: 11/7/2023) – Poste Italiane advises that it is unable to guarantee the collection and delivery of mail in certain areas of Tuscany, in particular the provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Prato. This is due to extreme weather conditions and flooding since Nov. 3. Postcodes affected are: 59025, 59011, 59015, 59013, 59016, 59021, 59024, 59026, 59025, 51035 and 51039.
Turkey (Notice: 2/9/2023) – Turkish Post advises that significant earthquakes struck the Southern and South Eastern regions on February 6th, prompting a state of emergency. Mail operations have been significantly affected, leading to anticipated delays in all impacted areas for the foreseeable future.
- USPS Domestic Shipping Update
- USPS International Insurance Claims Process Update
- Why USPS shipments take up to 60 days or longer to arrive in foreign countries
- USPS switched some international shipments from air to sea transport
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