Covid-19 and international shipping

Seems like everyone has a Covid-19 advisory, and with good reason. International shipping is not what it used to be as the world adjusts to a new shipping landscape. Since mid-April, we have been shipping international orders using the USPS First-Class International, Priority International, and Priority Express International. Many of these packages are still in transit. Some take as little as two-weeks, others have arrived after six or seven weeks and counting. No packages have been returned as not-deliverable.

Unlike courier services DHL, UPS and FEDEX who have a presence in most countries, USPS transfers packages to the local postal service in each country, or in some cases to a designated commercial partner. With IoTaWatt, the first step is domestic shipping to New York. where previously, packages would be sorted and forwarded using capacity on commercial flights. With Covid-19, those commercial flights have been severely curtailed, and what space remains on commercial flights is utilized at a higher priority.

As a result, the USPS has issued a series of advisories concerning package delivery to various countries via ocean freight – the proverbial slow-boat. Some of the packages that we have sent out over the past few months appear to be moving that way. Once a ship arrives at it’s trans-oceanic destination, it must be unloaded, sorted, and forwarded to the actual country of destination which involves ground transportation.

Upon arrival at the destination country, the package usually goes through customs processing, which can take a long time given the backup caused by Covid shutdowns and an increased package volume reported by all shippers. The courier service packages seem to get faster service, no doubt at the expense of ordinary packages. Finally, many countries have advisories concerning long-delays in-country for delivery.

Bottom line is that it can take from one to three months to get an international package these days. Lately service seems to have improved sporadically. We have negotiated better rates with UPS and made them available at cost. So far, service has been fast and reliable.

If you have an international package in transit, please be patient. It’s not anyone’s fault, and people are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

If you are contemplating ordering a package for international delivery, please consider that it could take two or three months to arrive with flat-rate or any USPS service, and set your expectations. UPS seems to be running about a week.