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How Parcels & Letters Are Delivered Round The World.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 at 14:47

International delivery

Parcels and packages, letters and documents, have been sent to the other side of the world and back for many years, but have you ever wondered how your mail gets there?


Mail providers tend to have contracts with major airlines to help them to deliver internationally. The letters are collected and sorted to route it to its destination country. Mail can travel on commercial flights, as well as dedicated carriers like Fedex, DHL or UPS. Once it arrives, the process will differ depending on the systems in place in the destination country.

International Costs

When you pay for a delivery abroad part of the cost will cover the labour of postal staff in the country of origin. Another element of the charge covers the transportation to the delivery company. However, your payment doesn’t directly cover the delivery cost in the destination country. It will contribute towards it in the following way:

Countries pay something called ‘terminal dues’ to destination countries to compensate them for the cost of local delivery. Amounts are calculated every quarter based on weight and number of items of mail.

Local Delivery Upon Arrival

Upon arrival in the destination country, the delivery to the recipients address is all down to the structures in place in that particular country.

Below are some different postal systems from around the world, as well as some unusual ways letters could find their way to the delivery address.

Delivery In Asia

Last year, the postal service in Singapore trialled delivery by drone This delivery method could be particularly useful in delivering mail in remote areas or destinations with challenging terrain. Next time you send some mail to Singapore, you never know, drone delivery could be up and running.

Mail Delivery In Africa

In South Africa, most houses don't have letter boxes. Most people who require mail delivery pay for a PO box address, which needs to be applied for and can have a long waiting list.

The South African Post Office carries out delivery to the mail box ready for collection. 

Delivery In North America

The biggest postal service in the whole world is The United States Postal Service. It delivers 40% of mail worldwide. It is the third largest civilian employer in the US and operates one of the largest civilian vehicle fleets in the world. Zip codes are used for accurate delivery, so as long as your letter is correctly addressed US delivery should be very reliable.

Delivery In South America

Delivery in South America has not always been very dependable. In some South American countries, 25% of mail does not reach its destination due to unreliable addressing and signs. In fact, some countries have only been using post codes in the last few years to help mail delivery. 

Delivery In Antarctica

Working for the Post Office in Antarctica can be challenging, requiring employees to carry heavy boxes over treacherous rocks and snow, and even dodging penguins! 

Delivery In Europe

The UK postal service is familiar to us, using post codes to achieve fast and efficient delivery of letters and parcels. The Royal mail dates back to 1518, under the reign of Henry VIII.

Other European countries operate their own postal systems, such as the French Bureaux De Post which boasts being the most concentrated postal network in Europe. La Poste in France has also tested drone delivery

European postal delivery on the whole is reliable, with over 97% arriving at its destination within 5 days.

Delivery In Australia

Australia Post has recently come under fire due to changes in their delivery schedule. Regular post now takes up to 6 working days to reach its destination. 

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