The Postal Service, as a major international postal organization, has key responsibilities related to the collection and exchange of advance electronic data (AED) for international packages. These responsibilities were further clarified when Congress passed the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018 to help stem the flow of opioids shipped to the U.S. through the mail. The law requires – with some exceptions – that all postal packages entering the U.S. have AED. The Postal Service, in accordance with internal policies and guidelines, has applied STOP Act provisions to export mail. This alert focuses on the collection and review of export packages as well as the item-level AED that is to accompany these packages prior to Postal Service processing. Specific export AED requirements include tracking number, sender, recipient, and package information.
The Postal Service previously collected AED for export packages tendered by customers at various retail channels, including post offices, contract stations, or its Click-N-Ship, Customs Form Online, and Global Systems Software platforms. In early 2021, the Postal Service more stringently enforced standards related to the sufficiency of this data to correspond with growing scrutiny of package data for international shipments. In early August 2021, the Postal Service also began enforcing AED requirements for export packages from bulk commercial mailers. These requirements were phased in to allow more transition time for coordination between the Postal Service and commercial mailers.
While conducting fieldwork for our International Mail Operations and Performance Data project, we found significant operational delays of international outbound (export) packages. Operations were significantly challenged at the Postal Service’s five ISCs due to a large number of export packages identified as having insufficient AED. Postal Service data showed nearly 2.9 million pieces with missing AED between January and August 2021. We also found significant processing delays of some export packages identified with insufficient AED.
With peak season it will be valuable for the Postal Service to continue efforts to promote more consistent and efficient processing of export packages. This could include coordinating with key stakeholders such as retail and commercial customers, PC Postage providers, and retail staff on efforts to reduce the number of export packages arriving at the ISCs with insufficient AED. More specifically, the Postal Service should continue to examine opportunities to leverage system integration with commercial mailers to assess AED sufficiency when preparing packages at the mailer’s facility.
We are continuing our review of international operations, scanning data, and package messaging as part of the fieldwork for our International Mail Operations and Performance Data project, where we will continue to monitor international operations and performance.