With the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency continuing to spread around the globe, mail and small parcel operations are impacted worldwide.
Between a shortage of commercial passenger airlines to carry the mail and local authorities and transit/destination postal services shutting down or restricting services, sending international packages with the US Postal Service is resulting in longer transit times on most shipments.
This post was last updated on 1/18/2021.
Also, the bottom of the post (Additional Resources) has links relevant to USPS shipping during the coronavirus emergency.
Service Suspensions as 1/18/2021
The US Postal Service does not accept shipments to the following countries because of either lack of transportation or suspension of mail service (marked with an *) in that country:
- Central African Republic
- French Guiana
- Republic of Congo
- Reunion (Bourbon)
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Miquelon)
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
Customers are asked to refrain from entering items into the USPS mail system going to these countries. Mail or packages may be returned to the shipper.
These service disruptions affect 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®), and M-Bag® items.
For any returned item bearing a customs form, the Postal Service will, upon request, refund postage and fees on mail returned due to the suspension of service.
For all other returned items not bearing a customs declarations form, the Postal Service will, upon request, refund postage and fees on mail returned due to the suspension of service, or the sender may remail them with the existing postage once service has been restored. When remailing under this option, customers must cross out the markings “Mail Service Suspended — Return to Sender.”
Unless otherwise noted, service suspensions to a particular country do not affect the delivery of military and diplomatic mail.
USPS Shifted Mail From Air Cargo to Sea Transport During Summer
During the summer, the US Postal Service shifted a large backlog of shipments from air to sea transport due to a lack of air cargo capacity.
There have been no known sea transports of Priority Mail items since the last shipment in June and all shipments that arrived in the destination countries should be delivered by now.
Please see tracking and insurance information below if items have not been delivered that were sent in late Spring and Summer of 2020.
If a mail item shows on USPS tracking it has left left the United States (last scan is from an International Service Center or ISC), under normal circumstances, the US Postal Service has no further visibility on that item until a transit country or the destination country provides updated tracking information to its system.
Sometimes, it is possible to get more updated tracking by using the destination country’s postal service online tracking tools if the item has entered the country. (List from Wikipedia of National Postal Services)
This is especially true if the shipment has delivery or routing error, delays, or exceptions as the comments on the country’s postal system may provide more information on the status of the mail items than the update transmitted back to the USPS.
Furthermore, tracking scans of individual mail pieces typically only occur at the local and regional pickup locations, when the parcel enters a country’s customs facility, and at the local or regional destination locations. For tracking information in between these locations, mail pieces are typically tracked in groupings packed inside cargo containers.
There are probably thousands of cargo containers with mail spread all over the world sitting at airport facilities and transit stations waiting to be processed to their next destination.
It will likely take weeks (or months…?) for some mail pieces to move again once these operations resume and cargo capacity becomes available to continue the transit of the cargo containers.
Insurance Claim Update
The US Postal Service is now advising it may take up to 60 days to process an insurance claim for lost or damaged international shipments.
We have an extensive article on this topic that update just like this post as additional information becomes available.
Please follow this link for more information on how filing international insurance claims with USPS has changed and how it may even affect third-party insurance services.
Global Express Guaranteed Service – 11/16/2020
The Postal Service is temporarily suspending international mail acceptance of Global Express Guarantee (GXG) to the following destinations:
Bhutan, Eritrea, Laos, Lesotho, Norfolk Island
According to DMM 604.9.2.3, customers are entitled to a full refund of their postage costs when service to the country of destination is suspended.
The detailed procedures to obtain refunds for Retail Postage, eVS, PC Postage, and BMEU entered mail can be found through the following https://postalpro.usps.com/international-refunds
Country Status by Continent
North America & Caribbean
Barbados – 1/7/2021
Barbados Postal Service advises that the government has imposed a night curfew until Jan. 14 because of a spike in COVID-19 infections. Service delivery standards for letters, parcels and express mail service items have been affected and a situation of force majeure has been declared until the situation returns to normal.
Canada – 12/21/2020
Canada Post advises that it continues to experience significant disruptions to its activities because of exceptional precautionary measures implemented to protect the health and safety of its employees and Canadians, as well as persistent challenges relating to availability of transport links.
Canada is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 and all provinces remain in a state of emergency. A previously declared force majeure situation for all international letter-post, parcel-post and express mail service items will remain in effect until further notice.
Canada Post continues to follow the guidance and safety recommendations issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, including physical distancing and self-quarantine for affected individuals.
These measures have resulted in delays in mail processing, unprecedented levels of absenteeism among operational staff, and temporary facility closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks. It has not been possible to ensure on-time delivery since March 18 and this guarantee remains suspended until further notice.
Refer to the Canada Post website for more information.
Jamaica – 1/5/2021
Jamaica’s post advises that the government has extended a national curfew until Jan. 15. Revised working shifts/hours will continue to apply across the postal network, affecting sorting operations and mail delivery as well as responses to online customer inquiries.
A force majeure situation continues with an impact on quality of service for all types of mail, including inbound and outbound letters, parcels and express mail service items.
Mexico – 11/10/2020
Mexico’s post advises that offices of exchange continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to government measures to combat the coronavirus, the Mexican customs authority will be operating with a reduced workforce until January 2021.
As a result, delays are to be expected in the delivery of shipments.
Trinidad & Tobago – 10/8/2020
Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation advises that borders are closed to limit spread of COVID-19 and there are no inbound or outbound commercial flights until further notice.
Only scheduled cargo flights from the United States are allowed and the post is unable to receive or send international dispatches.
Europe & Eurasia
Belgium – 11/12/2020
Belgium’s post advises that the government has announced a new lockdown until at least Dec. 13 to combat a second wave of COVID-19.
The post is making every effort to ensure continuity of all services however there could be delays in processing and delivery of all types of mail items throughout the country.
The post will continue to provide its services according to safety guidelines. All mail requiring signature on delivery will be delivered with the post employee signing in place of the customer (but in their presence).
Czech Republic – 11/2/2020
Czech Republic’s post advises that the country has been hit with a second wave of the coronavirus and a state of emergency is extended until Nov. 20.
Wide-ranging restrictions include mandatory closure of shops and selected service providers.
The post will continue to provide postal services to the extent possible, however, quality of service for all types of inbound and outbound mail cannot be guaranteed.
Cyprus – 9/29/2020
Cyprus Post advises that it is now possible to send dispatches of all mail classes to Cyprus as a result of a number of air carriers operating flights to the country.
However, delivery delays are possible because of social distancing and other measures to combat COVID-19.
Denmark – 11/10/2020
Denmark’s post advises that the government has implemented new measures in seven municipalities to minimize spread of COVID-19.
Delivery delays are expected in the affected areas until Dec. 3. Quality standards for all products will be affected by this situation of force majeure.
Estonia’s post advises that inbound items will be delivered at agreed delivery standards with some changes to signature procedures for registered letters and other shipments.
France – 12/2/2020
The French Post (La Poste) advises that the government announced a gradual relaxation of the blocking measures in various phases until at least January 20, 2021 given the facts related to the COVID-19 situation.
La Poste will comply with all measures required by the French government to protect the health of its employees and the population. As a result, it may have to adjust the opening hours and operations of its post offices and processing and distribution centers.
During the end-of-year period, delivery delays are possible and delivery standards cannot be guaranteed. La Poste is doing its utmost to ensure customer satisfaction and operational continuity.
The restrictions established in previous messages regarding the inability to guarantee service standards will continue to apply, and the force majeure situation will remain in effect until at least 20 January 2021.
Germany – 12/21/2020
Germany’s post advises that several European countries have imposed transport and travel bans on the United Kingdom due to COVID-19. The post has stopped accepting transit mail to the UK and Ireland.
Greece – 12/29/2020
Greece’s post advises that the government has extended a nationwide lockdown through the end of January in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be impacts on collection and delivery of domestic and international mail.
Grenada – 9/21/2020
Grenada’s post has resumed full business operations with the reopening of borders to regional and international flights.
However, some regional airports remain closed and international flights from Canada and the United Kingdom have not yet resumed, which is affecting receipt and delivery of mail.
The post is working to find alternatives.
Italy – 11/5/2020
Italy’s post advises that based on the new measures put in force by the Italian government to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the post has restored the addressee’s signature upon delivery of parcels and registered and insured items whenever the addressee’s condition is fully compliant with the preventive measures in place.
Italy’s post is committed to adopting different delivery procedures, agreed with the addressee, in the event of specific situations related to the current health emergency.
With regard to legal acts, if the addressee’s condition does not allow safe delivery, a notice of delivery with instructions for item collection will be placed in the addressee’s mailbox.
Quality standards for all products will continue to be affected by this force majeure until further notice.
Moreover, owing to the new wave of the pandemic, certain business categories have been closed or are operating with limited opening hours, and restrictions may be applied to postal service in critical areas.
Italy’s post is constantly monitoring the situation and timely updating the dedicated section of its website, available at www.poste.it/emergenza-covid19.html.
Latvia – 12/9/2020
Latvia’s post advises that the government has extended a state of emergency until at least January 11. A previously declared force majeure is extended until further notice.
Postal services will continue to function with restrictions such as reduced working hours in post offices and reduction of the workforce to minimize contact between people. Items normally requiring the addressee’s signature upon delivery will be handed over without signature.
Lithuania – 12/18/2020
Lithuania’s post advises that the government has tightened its lockdown measures and extended a national quarantine until Jan. 31.
Postal services will be operating under certain restrictions, such as limited working hours in post offices and a reduced workforce in order to minimize contact between people. Items normally requiring the addressee’s signature upon delivery will be handed over without signature.
Processing and delivery of all types of inbound and outbound mail will be affected, and the post is unable to guarantee compliance with usual delivery standards. Therefore, a force majeure will continue to apply.
Malta – 11/20/2020
Malta’s post advises that inbound and outbound mail services continue to be severely affected by limited airline operations due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The post also has adapted its operations as appropriate to comply with national health guidelines. The post cannot guarantee delivery standards and times.
Delays in mail processing and delivery are expected and compliance with quality of service standards will continue to be affected by force majeure.
Netherlands – 12/2/2020
Netherlands Post, (PostNL), advises that owing to the COVID-19 situation in the Netherlands, and the Dutch Government’s directives in relation to the partial lockdown in force since 14 October 2020 to combat the rising number of infections, PostNL has adapted its operations to ensure the continuity of all the services provided to customers while protecting the health of postal workers and the general public.
Because of the partial lockdown, previous restrictions regarding handover procedures will continue to apply, and PostNL may not be able to ensure that all the normal inbound and outbound mail standards are met.
Netherlands post advises that it has made further changes to the delivery procedure for all international inbound items that would normally require a signature. It no longer provides a recipient’s signature for registered items, parcels or express mail service items.
Alternative proofs of delivery have been implemented, including signature of the delivery person, last three digits of the addressee’s identity card or simply a proof of delivery scan event.
Poland – 12/22/2020
Poland’s post advises that international mail acceptance operations are limited to a few airlines at the Warsaw airport. Mail is being accepted to the United States and some other destinations.
Postal services to the United Kingdom are suspended until further notice because of interruptions in air and ground transport.
Poland’s post advises that measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 are still in force and will continue to affect services.
In the case of parcel post, insured items and express mail service items addressed to persons in quarantine, the addressee will be contacted by telephone if possible before attempted delivery.
If delivery is not possible the item will be returned to the post office for temporary storage and no notice will be left. The delivery will be attempted again once the quarantine is over.
Portugal – 12/22/2020
Portugal’s post advises that the government has announced a new lockdown through Jan. 7 to combat a resurgence of COVID-19. The post will continue to provide postal services but will operate with a reduced workforce and subject to new restrictions and safety guidelines.
Processing and delivery of all types of inbound and outbound mail will continue to be affected, and the post is unable to guarantee compliance with agreed standards. A force majeure situation remains in place until further notice.
Portugal’s post advises that the situation in Portugal with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic has deteriorated. Therefore, the Portuguese government has declared a new state of emergency, effective Nov. 9, which will be reassessed every two weeks.
During the state of emergency, postal services will continue to function, subject to the restrictions imposed by reinforced measures aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health of staff and customers.
Owing to social distancing measures, such as staggered shift patterns, and the implementation of mandatory isolation and quarantine requirements, Portugal’s post will be operating with a reduced workforce.
The processing and delivery of all types of service will be affected, including inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items.
As a result, Portugal’s post is unable to meet its contractual obligations, particularly with regard to delivery times for letters, parcels and EMS items, standard rules for collection of signature on delivery, hand delivery, tracking of shipments (capture and transmission times), processing of cash on delivery, and insured items.
Therefore, the situation of force majeure previously declared will continue to apply until further notice.
Serbia – 12/31/2020
Serbia’s post advises that a state of emergency in the country has been lifted and sorting and delivery of inbound international postal items has resumed as normal. However, due to lack of transport routes and restrictions in air traffic, outbound postal traffic has not yet been established with all countries.
Slovakia – 1/5/2021
Slovakia advises that the government has extended a general lockdown until Jan. 24 in response to a significant number of new COVID-19 infections. There will be impacts to collection and delivery of domestic and international mail.
The lockdown restrictions introduced throughout Slovakia include the mandatory closure of non-essential shops and certain other services.
Slovakia’s post will continue to provide postal services, but will operate with a reduced workforce and subject to the new lockdown restrictions and safety guidelines.
The processing and delivery of all types of inbound and outbound mail (letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items) will continue to be affected, and the post is unable to guarantee compliance with the agreed standards. Therefore, the force majeure situation declared before remains in place until further notice.
Slovenia – 12/18/2020
Slovenia’s post advises that a national lockdown continues because of a significant number of new coronavirus infections. The government has extended a formal declaration of the epidemic. As a result, the post is extending its force majeure through Dec. 31.
Further lockdown restrictions have been introduced throughout the country.
The post continues to provide services but will operate with a reduced workforce. Processing and delivery of all types of inbound and outbound mail will continue to be affected and the post is unable to guarantee compliance with agreed standards.
A situation of force majeure will continue to apply until further notice.
South America & Central America
Brazil – 12/18/2020
Brazil’s post advises that its case of force majeure due to COVID-19 impacts will end Dec. 31. Beginning Jan. 1, postal operations will be back to normal. The post will still follow safety guidelines. All items normally requiring signature upon delivery will continue to be handed over without signature.
El Salvador – 12/23/2020
El Salvador’s post advises that its international inbound mail services are operating normally. In addition, outbound services have resumed to all countries where possible. Expect delays in processing and delivery of letters due to safety measures. However, the post is taking all possible measures to provide normal services.
Honduras – 10/27/2020
Honduras Post advises that a countrywide lockdown will continue until Nov. 1. The post is gradually resuming its activities but with reduced staff on site.
This will have an impact on the quality of sorting, distribution and delivery of incoming mail as well as processing of inquiries and international accounts.
Panama – 12/30/2020
Panama’s post advises that the government has issued restrictions on movement in two provinces Jan. 4 to 14 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Post offices in Panama and Panama Oeste (West) provinces will remain closed and no inbound or outbound mail will be accepted. Expect delivery delays during this period for inbound mail arriving at Panama’s offices of exchange and destined for post offices in the affected provinces.
All other post offices, mail processing centers (domestic and international) and the airport office are operating with reduced working hours.
Administrative offices will be closed during this period. There are outbound international mail operations to the United States and the post can receive inbound mail. Service standards for inbound and outbound mail cannot be guaranteed and a situation of force majeure continues.
Peru – 9/29/2020
Peru’s post advises that certain restrictions to commercial flights worldwide due to COVID-19 are hampering normal exchange of postal items. A state of emergency remains in place in the country.
Hong Kong – 12/4/2020
Hongkong Post advises that the government has announced special work arrangements, effective Dec. 1, 2020, in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the processing of all inbound and outbound mail (letter-post, parcel-post and EMS items), as well as the delivery of inbound mail, will be affected until further notice.
Korea – 1/5/2021
Korea’s post advises that several cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the workforce of the Seoul office of exchange. As staff shortages are expected during the coming weeks, there will be significant delays in processing and delivery of both inbound and outbound mail items.
Malaysia – 10/27/2020
Malaysia Post advises that government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been imposed in Selangor and Putrajaya, resulting in a reduced workforce.
This has affected processing capacity at the post’s office of exchange and hub at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and there are significant processing delays for inbound international mail.
Maldives – 11/2/2020
Maldives’ post advises that processing of all inbound mail is now back to normal. However, acceptance of outbound mail for some countries is still temporarily suspended in cases where international postal items are not being accepted or where flights from the Maldives are limited or canceled.
Mongolia – 12/23/2020
Mongolia’s post advises that the government has introduced additional lockdown measures through Jan. 6 because of increasing COVID-19 cases. There are impacts to air and road transport. The post is accepting all types of mail to a reduced number of destinations, including the United States.
Samoa – 12/17/2020
Samoa Post advises that the government has extended the state of emergency until Jan. 16, 2021, and the restrictions detailed before remain unchanged.
It is able to send only express mail service items to the United States. Normal parcel and letter post remain suspended.
Also, all inbound mail is subject to a seven-day quarantine before being processed and delivered. The post says to expect delays.
Sri Lanka – 11/10/2020
Sri Lanka’s post advises that the government has implemented new measures to combat a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps will impact delivery standards.
The post is not able to guarantee that it will meet agreed standards. However, all mail items sent to Sri Lanka will be processed and delivered, subject to certain restrictions imposed by the government.
The office of exchange and mail sorting centers are operational, but certain areas remain in lockdown.
International airports remain closed to all regular passenger flights, and outbound mail transport is restricted to a limited number of destinations with available air carriers
Thailand – 12/28/2020
Thailand’s post advises that the government has taken special measures to combat increasing COVID-19 cases, including a lockdown of Samut Sakhon province.
There is limited access to affected areas and expect delays in handling and delivery for all types of international postal services. Signature upon delivery may also be suspended.
Thailand Post is unable to guarantee quality standards for any category of inbound and outbound mail until further notice.
Africa & Middle East
Israel – 12/28/2020
Israel’s post advises that the government has declared a nationwide lockdown through Jan. 11 due to an increasing number of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Postal services will continue to function with restrictions, including closure of delivery points in shops, quarantines in high-risk areas, reduced working hours in post offices, and reduction of the workforce to minimize contacts between people.
Items normally requiring the addressee’s signature upon delivery will continue to be handed over without signature. These measures will affect processing and delivery with an impact on quality of service. A force majeure remains in place.
Inbound and outbound mail is being processed for all destinations, depending on availability of flights and requirements of designated operators.
Lebanon – 11/13/2020
Lebanon’s post advises that the government has announced a new nationwide lockdown Nov. 14-30 to combat a resurgence of COVID-19.
The post’s managerial and customer service departments will remain open but operate with a reduced workforce.
Similarly, the distribution network and office of exchange will continue to process mail flows but at reduced capacity.
Post offices will be subject to partial closures. Beirut’s airport will remain open and continue to send and receive mail dispatches, with outbound mail being sent only to destinations for which air transport capacity remains available.
These measures will have an impact on delivery standards for letters, parcels and express mail service items. Therefore, the post is unable to guarantee compliance with agreed standards.
Morocco – 1/7/2021
Morocco’s post advises that flooding in several regions of the country has caused delays in mail transportation and delivery.
South Africa – 12/29/2020
South African Post Office advises that the government has tightened restrictions through Jan. 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some business sectors and public facilities have been closed and international trade is limited.
The post will continue to dispatch mail to countries if the relevant air carrier is operating. It will also continue to receive mail for delivery in South Africa. It will not be possible to meet delivery standards for all mail classes. The post is again operating under force majeure conditions.
New Zealand – 12/24/2020
New Zealand Post advises that inbound international mail services are operating normally for the acceptance and delivery of all inbound mail types and classes (letters and parcels).
- USPS Domestic Shipping Update
- USPS International Insurance Claims Process Update
- Why USPS shipments are taking 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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