If you are trying to ship mail to Australia, you may have encountered recent service disruptions, which could cause issues. It’s important to know what impact this is currently having on the postal service and how it affects sending packages.
At present, USPS has suspended both the First Class Package International service and the Priority Mail International service to Australia. This is because of disruptions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and it is expected to be a temporary situation, which will hopefully be resolved before too much time has passed.
What Are The Current Disruptions Involved With Shipping To Australia?
Currently, the US Postal Service has suspended its Priority Mail International service and its First Class Package International service to Australia, and it is impossible to use either of these services if you are planning to ship items to Australia.
The First Class Package International service to Australia was suspended first, on the 3rd of September 2021. The Priority Mail International service was suspended a couple of weeks later, on the 17th of September 2021.
That means that at present, you cannot use either of these services to ship packages to Australia, although other services are still in place. This disruption is intended to be temporary and will hopefully be lifted before too much longer has passed, but it is still in place as of April 2022, and it is not clear when it will be lifted.
A few of USPS’s other services to Australia have also been interrupted, including International Airmail M-Bags and International Surface Air Lift M-Bags. Again, it is not known when these services will be reinstated, which is causing frustration for many shippers that want to send products to customers or friends/family in Australia.
What Happens If I Want To Ship A Package To Australia?
Many people are confused and annoyed by the disruption, which has now been going on for several months. If you want to ship packages to Australia, your options are currently a lot more limited than they were prior to the pandemic.
However, you do still have a few different shipping options to choose from, including another of USPS’s services. The company currently advises that you opt for Priority Mail Express International, which costs more but is still operating almost normally.
This will get your package delivered within 3 to 5 business days, comes with $200 insurance, and includes tracking and pickup services. However, it is $47.95 for envelopes weighing up to 4 lb, and this is certainly not a cheap way to ship products internationally. If you run an ecommerce business, you are likely to find that this price (the lowest possible for this kind of shipping) deters customers.
You can also get flat rates for shipping with the Priority Mail Express International service, but these start from $60.95 for all countries excluding Canada, so they may also prove too expensive to be viable.
Other options include the GlobalPost International Standard, UPS International Shipping, or other couriers that will carry the package for you. This is frustrating for a lot of service users that are loyal to USPS or prefer to use the service, but unfortunately, there is little else that can be done at present.
Why Is COVID 19 Causing Shipping Disruptions?
It might seem that the virus should not have had a big impact upon shipping services, but unfortunately, it has done so in a number of ways, including sicknesses and absences. It also led to a surge in demand, with more people shopping online and more people sending packages to friends and family in lieu of visits.
Global shipping margins tend to be tight and many packages are only just delivered on time, so putting strain on the system caused an already stressed infrastructure to crumble in places.
Customs clearance backlogs, border closures, government mandates, and flight restrictions have all had a negative impact on USPS’s ability to deliver mail to certain countries, including Australia. It’s likely that other more minor effects of the pandemic have also contributed to the overall problem.
USPS does not state any specific reason for the restriction, besides the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, so it’s likely that there are multiple contributing factors that need to be resolved.
When Will The Restrictions Be Lifted?
USPS has not offered an update on when it will lift the restrictions. It has emphasized that the restrictions are intended to be temporary and that the services that have been removed will be resumed at some point, but no timeline has been provided.
This is likely because the pandemic is proving difficult to predict and is often having long-term impacts that create unexpected results. It is therefore hard for USPS to offer a reliable timeline. A lot of it also depends upon other infrastructures, the level of absences, the speed with which the backlog can be cleared, and more.
However, many people are eagerly waiting for the services to be resumed, and it is likely that USPS is doing everything possible to get the shipping options back into place for their customers.
Is Priority Mail Express International Delivery Affected?
As mentioned earlier, Priority Mail Express International delivery is still an option for shippers wishing to send items to Australia. However, even this service has been affected to some degree, and on the 25th of October 2021, USPS stopped guaranteeing their delivery times for the service when sending mail to Australia.
That doesn’t mean your mail will not be delivered, but it means that if it takes longer than the advertised 3 to 5 business days, you will not be able to reclaim your mailing costs. USPS is not guaranteeing that they will meet this delivery goal.
This is likely because so much of the delivery process is outside of their control, and with the customs backlogs, it is possible that packages will take longer to arrive, no matter what USPS does to speed them along.
You should be aware of this before sending mail using the Priority Mail Express International service, because your item may take longer to be delivered to Australia (as well as certain other countries), and you will not be able to reclaim your shipping fees as you normally would.
If this doesn’t suit your needs, consider using one of the other shipping services or one of the other couriers to get your mail delivered. However, do be aware that many shipping companies are encountering similar difficulties, and may also have suspended guarantees or services in response to the situation.
What Happens If I Sent A Package Already?
If you have already sent a package with one of USPS’s suspended services, you might be worried about it being lost and getting no compensation for it. However, you don’t need to be too concerned. Many of these packages were processed after the restrictions were put into place.
Those that cannot be delivered will be marked “Mail Service Suspended – Return to Sender” and should then be redirected to your return address. You should receive the package back in due course, and you can then either refund the customer (if you run an ecommerce business), or choose another shipping option.
Of course, packages do sometimes get lost, but it is unlikely that this will happen; your goods should be returned to you. It is always important to include a return address on packages that you mail for this exact reason, so make sure that you do add a return label to the package’s exterior for USPS to use.
You may also wish to include a return address inside the package in case the item gets lost and sent to the Mail Recovery Center. If it does, having a return address in the package will increase the chances of it being recovered with ease if the external return address has got smudged or removed.
Will My Mail Still Arrive On Time?
Most couriers are currently warning their customers to expect delays with shipping, regardless of which service is chosen. The multiple issues that can occur during the shipping process and the speed with which the situation changes can have unexpected impacts.
Many countries are going into and out of national lockdowns with very little warning, and this makes it difficult for couriers to predict when mail will arrive. Although mail may still travel during lockdowns, a lot of international mail is likely to be delayed, and may even be returned to the sender if the restrictions increase.
Should I Still Send Mail To Australia?
Some couriers are recommending that customers refrain from sending mail to Australia until the situation improves. This will help to ease the backlog, rather than increasing it, and may help the mailing service to catch up and repair the infrastructure.
However, there is nothing to prevent you from using the services that are still operating, and many businesses and individuals are doing so. As long as your mail is clearly addressed and contains a return address, it should be returned to you if the situation changes and the mail cannot be delivered.
You may wish to purchase additional insurance for your package or refrain from sending high value or precious items until the situation has calmed down, as it is currently very changeable. Even so, if you choose to ship mail to Australia, it will usually still arrive, although you should anticipate delays, no matter what service you use.
If you are running an ecommerce business, you may wish to temporarily suspend mail to Australia, depending upon the urgency that your products require.
If you send items that need reliable, fast shipping, you may find that it makes more financial sense to suspend sales to Australia for the time being, until the situation is more predictable and you can reliably get mail to its intended destination.
Which Couriers Ship To Australia?
The situation is constantly changing, so it’s best to seek up to date information from the couriers’ own websites, but at present, USPS, FedEx, DHL, and UPS are all offering at least some shipping services to Australia. Restrictions and caveats may apply.
If you wish to ship to Australia, you might want to investigate the offerings of the different couriers, since USPS’s current options are expensive.
DHL will ship a 5 lb package to Australia in 5 to 7 working days for $180. FedEx and USP offer comparable services, but need to be priced according to weight, size, and zone. USPS’s Priority Mail Express International service starts from $47.95, so it may prove competitive, but you should compare it with the other options to find the one that suits you best.
Will I Get A Refund If My Package Is Returned?
If the situation changes after you have mailed something and the package has to be returned to you because the service it was sent with has been suspended, you will be given a full refund for your shipping costs. If you do not receive this automatically, follow up on the USPS website or contact the customer service team for assistance.
You will not be compensated for the inconvenience of a package suspension, however, so be aware of this when choosing what to mail. Additional shipping costs you have paid (e.g. for insurance) may not be refunded, but it is worth discussing this with a customer service agent directly to ensure you get the most up to date information.
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This brings true convenience to mail delivery, and ensures that your mail is always kept secure and safe from prying eyes.