Shopping Product Reviews

What is the USPS ePacket service?

In January 2013, the USPS will dramatically increase its First Class International Mail rates for packages. In many cases, the fees to send a package internationally will double. Although this may seem like very bad news to many Amazon and eBay sellers, there is some good news. The USPS is officially launching a new international service called Commercial ePacket in the United States.

Commercial ePacket is a USPS product offered through the services of a USPS-approved Pre-Qualified Wholesaler (PQW). This service appears to be very beneficial to many shippers shipping low-value light items overseas. Amazon and eBay sellers can now take comfort in the fact that they will no longer have to prepare the documentation and labels required to export from the US. The USPS PQW you select will take care of all the necessary documentation. Additionally, all e-retailers can now track these packages on to all 14 participating countries.

Some key features of the commercial e-packet service are as follows:

  • Cheap e-commerce postal product with tracking and delivery confirmation
  • Light merchandise of low value, < 2 kilos and value < $ 400
  • They are shipped as commercial postal parcels and use the main foreign postal network abroad.
  • Transit time is 4-7 days
  • Postal customs clearance (duties and taxes paid by the recipient)
  • Free returns on undeliverable items
  • Tracking is done directly on
  • 14 participating countries: Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, Sweden, Spain. Ireland, Finland, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
  • Delivery scan rates of 90% on average for all countries
  • Prices provided by a USPS approved PQW
  • The induction sites are New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
  • USPS Acceptance Scan and Foreign Mail Delivery Scan
  • Unique label and barcode identification: LX item prefix
  • Electronic manifesting, labeling done by a pre-qualified wholesaler and delivered in bags ONLY

How does ePacket work?

Customers would contact a USPS PQW in their region and talk to someone about how they can get started. Ideally, you would select a PQW that has mailing capabilities in all three accepting cities. This becomes extremely important during inclement weather and natural disasters. Using a PQW with multiple facilities located at all 3 acceptance facilities ensures that your mail can be redirected to another acceptance center if one closes or does not have outbound flights as we saw during Hurricane Sandy.

The PQW will guide you through the process of setting up your tags and data capture features. Once you have all the data capture functions running, you will send your shipments or the PQW will send a vehicle to your location. Each day you will need to provide the mail you are dispatching and submit a manifest electronically that outlines all the customs information for each package.

Once your packages arrive at the PQW, the PQW will confirm that they have received your electronic manifest for that particular day’s shipment. If the PQW does not receive your manifest, they cannot process your mail through the Commercial ePacket service. After receiving your manifest, the electronic information will be uploaded into the USPS system and all necessary customs documentation and labels will be generated. Packages will then be properly labeled and dispatched by destination country and delivered to the USPS-designated International Service Center (ISC).

Once accepted into the USPS ISC, the bags will be opened and each package will be scanned for evidence of posting and placed on the next available outbound flight for that destination country. After the arrival of the flight, the packages will clear customs through the postal customs clearance mechanism. This ensures that your packages move quickly through the clearance process and will not be affected by the typical delays incurred by the normal air cargo clearance system.

After dispatch, packages will enter the PRIME network and receive priority processing within the destination country. Customers who are waiting to receive their packages can be sure that they will see the tracking information directly on the USPS website. This feature should eliminate many customer service calls that many Amazon and eBay sellers receive daily from their customers.

Once the packages go through the postal system of the destination country, the package will be scanned as delivered by the postman once it is delivered. This scan event will be uploaded to the USPS site and will be available to anyone who wishes to monitor the progress of each shipment.

Based on my initial findings, this service seems like a great deal for businesses that ship 100 or more packages a day. However, some customers who ship fewer than 100 packages per day may also take advantage of this service if they choose to consolidate a day or two of orders prior to shipping. Obviously, each customer has their own idiosyncrasies that can influence when a service like Commercial ePacket becomes beneficial. However, depending on how far you are from JFK Airport, O’hare International Airport, or Los Angeles International Airport, it may be feasible to use the service every day, even if you have fewer than 100 packages a day. For specific information about the service, I would contact a USPS approved PQW today.

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