USPS Service Alert for UK

USPS Shipments to the UK Face Delivery Delays Due to Postal Worker Strike – Updated 12/20/2022

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USPS shipments to the UK face delivery delays due to work walkouts by British postal workers leading up to Christmas.

12/20 – The CWU, the union representing the Royal Mail workers confirmed another breakdown in communications with Royal Mail management and stated that strikes this week just days before Christmas will go on as planned.

In addition, we expect the CWU to announce more strike days in January as the labor dispute is getting increasingly bitter.

The postal workers union represents about 115,000 Royal Mail postal workers, the US Postal Service’s postal partner (foreign postal operator) in the UK. 

Unlike UPS, FedEx, or DHL, which use their logistics network to transport packages, USPS relies on foreign postal operators to deliver packages within the destination country.

Initial transport (the US domestic segment) to the UK should not be affected as USPS will continue to accept mail and packages going to the UK.

Typically, international USPS mail and packages go through one of the US Postal Services International Service Centers (ICS) here in the US, from where the US Postal Service dispatches worldwide.

There are five ISCs in the contiguous United States, and once mail leaves these centers, USPS has little control over the final journey.

Upon arrival at the destination country, international mail enters the country’s customs services, which may inspect the contents and assess any import duties payable by the recipient.

After leaving the customs agency, international mail enters the foreign postal operator’s domestic operations, where it is sorted and delivered.

While the strike should not affect customs processing, it will almost certainly create a backlog of mail and packages at customs facilities.

And since all mail operations are affected by the strike, it may take a few days for Royal Mail to collect all customs-cleared mail from the UK’s customs agency.

In addition to higher parcel volume due to holiday shipments during this time, the mail backlogs these strike days will create could significantly delay deliveries in the UK.

Royal Mail Strike Days

Based on the latest information from the postal worker’s union (CWU), there are currently 10 strike days in December, including on Christmas Eve, December 24.

  • Thursday 24th November
  • Friday 25th November
  • Wednesday 30th November
  • Thursday 1st December
  • Friday 9th December
  • Sunday 11th December
  • Wednesday 14th December
  • Thursday 15th December
  • Friday 23rd December
  • Saturday 24th December

Unfortunately, despite some efforts to come to an agreement, the two sides continue to be very far apart. Actually, over the past few weeks, the situation has become uglier with the union publishing images and videos online showing mail distribution centers are overflowing with holiday packages.

There has been little progress in finding a solution to the worker grievances since the strike actions began in August.

Monitor USPS Shipments to the UK

US shippers may see US Postal Service shipments to the UK that include long periods of no tracking updates due to processing backlogs.

The best advice for holiday gift shipments by USPS Priority Mail International to arrive on time is to send them by the first week of December. After that, USPS Priority Mail Express International should be the best option, but those shipments may also see delivery delays.

Online merchants and marketplace sellers in the US may want to advise UK customers that delays could occur on USPS shipments and offer alternative shipping options, especially if an order is time sensitive.

We will monitor the situation with Royal Mail over the next few weeks and update this post when new developments warrant it.

Also, check out our regularly updated post on USPS international service disruptions and suspensions, where we track potential delivery and service issues across the globe.

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4 Comments

  1. Clars Horton says:

    I am waiting for a parcel sent from the US. IT ARRIVED V EARLY BY AIRMAIL ON 27.08.22
    IN YOUR EXPERIENCE HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO CLEAR CUSTOMS GIVEN STIKE DAYS OF 26THVAugust and 31st August

  2. Clare Horton says:

    Thanks a lot. Parcel means a lot to me

    1. This will be very hard to give a timescale for, the good news is it is in the country. Usually, customs are pretty quick if it isn’t something out of the ordinary. The delay will most likely be caused by any backlogs Royal Mail is experiencing due to strikes. I’d say keep an eye on the tracking but if it hasn’t got there by today then due to the timing of their strikes it could be Monday.

  3. Been waiting on something being sent from the UK to the US, it’s been stuck in the UK since the 30th of September, so looks like the same day one of the strikes began. How long should I expect the delay to last?

    I hope that everyone involved is able to come to an agreement.

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