USPS Service Alert for UK

USPS Shipments to the UK Could See Delays Due to Looming Postal Worker Strike – Updated on 9/15/2022

USPS shipments to the UK could see delays due to a planned strike action by British postal workers starting next week.

The union that represents about 115,000 UK postal workers has called for four days of strikes against Royal Mail, 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 to the UK should not be affected, and there is no indication currently that USPS would hold mail here in the US due to the forthcoming strike.

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.

Due to the union’s call for strikes against Royal Mail over the few weeks, all mail operations in the UK will likely be affected, including international mail delivery.

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.

When Will This Royal Mail Strike Occur?

The good news about the strike is that the union called for several days of work stoppages but spread them over several weeks.

  • Friday, August 26
  • Wednesday, August 31
  • Thursday, September 8
  • Friday, September 9 (Cancelled due to the passing of the Queen – No news on “makeup” date yet)
  • Friday, September 30
  • Saturday, October 1

There is also a national holiday for the Queen’s funeral on Monday, September 19 that will further disrupt mail service in the UK.

This spread-out nature of the strike days should minimize disruptions on Royal Mail as it won’t become overwhelmed with almost a week’s worth of mail that would take much longer to catch up.

The bad news is that the two sides are far apart in this labor dispute with no quick resolution in sight. And the postal workers union is making good on its promise with further strikes later in September and October by scheduling two additional days already.

Currently, the strike situation is not generating enough of an impact yet that would stop USPS from shipping mail and packages to the UK.

Unfortunately, with the prospect of more strike days to follow, the situation could worsen later in the year as subsequent strike actions often become more disruptive in labor disputes.

For now, US shippers should monitor any USPS shipments going to the UK for unusual activity such as a lengthy period of no tracking updates.

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

This strike will impact all USPS international mail services, including express services.

We will monitor the situation with Royal Mail over the coming days and 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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