It is widely understood the most cost effective way to ship overseas from the USA is via the United States Postal Service’s First Class International (FCI) mail service. There is nothing comparable when it comes to cost and allows many commerce shippers the ability to open the borders for International commerce. The main drawback of FCI, besides its relatively slow delivery times, is the lack of true package tracking. It is true that FCI does not have a real tracking number, but contrary to popular belief, some International shipments ARE trackable; even beyond the border of the receiving country. Not only can the mailflow be tracked within the states, but some countries allow for tracking outside of the states.
Here is a great example of a First Class International shipment to Brazil:
Tracking/Customs # LJ291774754US (If the tracking link is expired, please see the image, below).
If you track it via the USPS, you see:
- Arrive USPS Sort Facility, December 23, 2011, 3:09 am, KEARNY, NJ 07032
- Depart USPS Sort Facility, December 23, 2011, 2:52 am, KEARNY, NJ 07099
- Processed at USPS Origin Sort Facility, December 22, 2011, 8:07 pm, KEARNY, NJ 07099
- Electronic Shipping Info Received, December 22, 2011
- Accepted at USPS Origin Sort Facility, December 22, 2011, 6:52 pm, VERONA, NJ 07044
- Acceptance, December 22, 2011, 4:05 pm, VERONA, NJ 07044
Based on these results, you can assume the package is lost or is in Kearny, NJ on 12/23/2011.
If you track that same package using Brazil’s website (http://websro.correios.com.br/sro_bin/txect01$.QueryList?P_LINGUA=001&P_TIPO=001&P_COD_UNI=LJ291774754US) you would see the package was delivered on 1/23/2012 (If the tracking link is expired, please see the image, below).
That is more details than the USPS provides, plus, it shows that there was a delivery! This gives you and the recipient much more visibility.
A great website to bookmark is http://www.track-trace.com/post. It lets you track locally, then in the destination countries website.
International shipments may not all have tracking services enabled, but make sure to check for those that do. Once the USPS and their partner postal systems start to work in sync, International shipping will be much easier and work just like shipping a package next door.