International Shipping Made Easy

The Postal Service offers flexible business solutions, simplified retail product

By Janet Mitchell & Yvonne Yoerger

The U.S. Postal Service is making international shipping easy for both business and retail customers. A new Global Business team is ready to assist business shippers with customized, flexible, international shipping solutions. And for individual customers, the International Mail products available at post offices and online will be simplified under changes expected to take effect in May.

Paul Vogel, USPS Managing Director, Global Business, and Senior Vice President, has been working for several months to establish the new international team. Weve done our market analysis. Weve been consulting with our customers, service providers, like integrators and consolidators, as well as national posts around the world to see what type of support they need from the U.S. Postal Service.

The Global Business unit will build on the Postal Services domestic successes in work sharing, discounts and outsourcing and apply them to the international market. Each customer is unique were becoming more accommodating to the individual commercial customers needs to provide the products and services that will make them more successful, Vogel says. We will look at going into contractual arrangements for international commercial shippers. We have the flexibility to do that, but weve never really exercised it until now.

New Organizational Structure

Within the new structure, Global Business Management will cover business development and account management; International Operations will oversee transportation, network support, military operations and the Postal Services five International Service Centers; and Global Network Strategy and Technology will implement information technology and systems management initiatives. International Postal Affairs will continue its role of fostering relations with other posts and the Universal Postal Union.

The new organization also includes its own finance group, Global Financial and Business Analysis. Basically, we have our own profit and loss center to judge our performance, explains Vogel. On one hand, we will be bringing in revenue through our account management activities. On the other hand, we need to continue cost management and ensure were following good business processes.

Nurturing Relationships

Vogel shares that with all USPS international efforts in one unit operations, transportation, finance, planning, information technology, account management and postal relations it will be easier to nurture commercial relationships in the United States and abroad, including with integrators and consolidators.

We need them to help us with this effort, and we can make it worth their while, Vogel comments. The opportunities are huge. Its not a question of how big a piece of the pie we have or they have. Its a question of how big we can grow the pie for all of us.

Customers interested in pursuing any of the International Mail business options may contact U.S. Postal Service Global Business Management Executive Director Frank Cebello by email at

International Mail Product Changes

Meanwhile, USPS is proposing changes to make its International Mail products for individual customers more clear-cut and easy to use. The changes will introduce familiar and trusted USPS domestic product names First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Express Mail into the portfolio of International Mail products available at post offices and online at

Customers will soon be able to purchase four new products: Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and First-Class Mail International. These exciting new changes will open international opportunities, notes Anita Bizzotto, U.S. Postal Service Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President. The ease of online shipping will be especially attractive. Add the convenience of free packaging supplies from USPS and free package pickup at your home or office, and the Postal Service has you covered around the globe.

Online Tools and Discount

Online tools already help make shipping easier for consumers who use Customs forms and address labels are combined into one document for many international products shipped via the Internet. Soon, online shipping will be easier on the budget too with discounts for postage purchased using Click-N-Ship or other authorized online postage vendors. Online discounts will be 10% on Global Express Guaranteed shipments, eight percent on Express Mail International shipments and five percent on Priority Mail International shipments.

Packaging Convenience

Shippers will be able to use many of the same recognizable packaging supplies for both domestic and international shipments and flat-rate envelope and box options will be added for even more convenience. The popular flat-rate envelope is proposed as a new Express Mail International option, and Priority Mail International offerings will be expanded from the currently offered, large-sized flat-rate envelope to also include a box. Regardless of the size, flat-rate envelopes and boxes are supplied free by the Postal Service and require no weighing or rate calculation. Mailers may continue to use the existing international and domestic packaging while supplies remain available.

Retail Product Price Changes

While price changes are included in this proposal, USPS services will remain at prices lower than those of other carriers for comparable products. International prices are proposed to increase an average of 13% to cover operating cost increases that occurred during a five-year price freeze beginning in 2001. The total price increase is below the cumulative change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that occurred during the freeze.

International prices were essentially frozen from January 2001 to January 2006, followed by a 5.9% increase in 2006, which was required to support federally mandated obligations. While other shippers made yearly price increases, USPS international prices remained at the 2001 level. At the same time, operating costs particularly fuel rose annually. This has resulted in international prices lagging behind both the CPI and other shippers prices on comparable products.

These prices will apply to the Postal Services International Mail retail product offerings and will not affect commercial offerings or prices negotiated within commercial contractual agreements.

Summary of New International Products and Services

Global Express Guaranteed

Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service is an international expedited delivery service provided through an alliance with FedEx Express. GXG provides reliable, high-speed, date-certain service with money-back delivery guarantee to more than 190 countries. USPS proposes to simplify GXG by combining its existing document and non-document categories.

Express Mail International

The Postal Service proposes to rename Global Express Mail to Express Mail International. The product will continue to provide reliable, high-speed service to more than 190 countries with money back delivery guarantee to select destinations. Document reconstruction and merchandise insurance up to $100 are provided at no additional cost. Optional additional insurance is available for a fee.

The proposal also would consolidate Express Mail Internationals 13 destination country rate groups into 10. Flat-rate envelope prices will be $22 for Canada and Mexico, and $25 for all other countries. Average-days-for-delivery information to major destinations will be available via the Postal Services online postage rate calculator and at post offices. These prices will apply to Express Mail International services purchased at post offices or online at and will not affect commercial prices that may be negotiated within business mailing contractual agreements.

Priority Mail International

The Postal Service proposes to combine Air Parcel Post, Global Priority Mail and Economy Parcel Post into a single new service: Priority Mail International, which is available to more than 190 countries.

Priority Mail International will offer the same flat-rate packaging as domestic Priority Mail, including a flat-rate envelope with two prices ($9 for Canada and Mexico, and $11 for all other countries) and two flat-rate box options ($23 for Canada and Mexico, and $37 for all other countries). Letters are not mailable in the flat-rate box, but they will be allowed in the flat-rate envelope.

The proposal includes an international shipping weight limit of 20 pounds for flat-rate boxes and four pounds for the flat-rate envelope. These limits are proposed to preserve the integrity of the packaging and the cardboard from which it is constructed during overseas shipments. The packaging is designed to be protective of contents up to the specified weights and continues to be free of charge from the Postal Service.

First-Class Mail International

The Postal Service proposes to combine Airmail Letters, Economy Letters and Aerogrammes into a new single service: First-Class Mail International. The new service will be for letters, postcards and other items weighing up to four pounds.

First-Class Mail International will be priced lower than GXG, Express Mail International and Priority Mail International. The price to mail a First-Class Mail International postcard or letter of up to one ounce would be 69 to Canada or Mexico and 90 to most other countries  still well below a dollar.
Additional Services
M-bags are direct sacks of printed matter to one addressee and are priced based on the weight of the bag and contents. The proposal combines Airmail M-bags and Economy M-bags into one service with air transportation. There are no defined size limits for pieces of mail placed in an M-bag, so long as the items being sent can be enclosed in the bag. The maximum weight limit for M-bags is 66 pounds, including the sack tare weight.
International Priority Airmail (IPA)
International Priority Airmail (IPA) is a bulk air letter service for First-Class Mail International items. Presort, nonpresort and drop ship discounts are available. Volume discounts are available through the International Customized Mail (ICM) program for commercial customers who meet minimum program requirements.
International Surface Air Lift
The Postal Service is proposing to combine International Surface Air Lift (ISAL), Publishers Periodicals and Books and Sheet Music. ISAL is a bulk mailing service for First-Class Mail International items. There is a 50-pound minimum per mailing. Presort, drop ship and volume discounts are available for commercial customers who meet ICM program requirements.
International Surface Air Lift M-bags
Under the proposal, M-bags can be sent using the ISAL service. The proposed average price increase is 2.8% for International Surface Air Lift M-bags. There are no defined size limits for pieces of mail placed in an M-bag, so long as the items being sent can be enclosed in the bag. The maximum weight limit for M-bags is 66 pounds, which includes the sack tare weight.
Extra Services
Due to a lack of customer demand, USPS proposes to eliminate Recorded Delivery service, the international equivalent of domestic Certified Mail. Customers who currently use Recorded Delivery may use Registered Mail instead. Other international extra services would remain the same as at present. Again, the prices and proposals described would apply to the Postal Services International Mail retail products and services and will not affect commercial prices or negotiated contracts.
Changes Proposed for May 2007
The proposed rates, fees and conditions were published in the December 20, 2006 Federal Register and will take effect at the same time as domestic pricing changes in May 2007. The Postal Service Board of Governors will set the effective date after the domestic mail proceeding currently before the Postal Rate Commission in Docket No. R2006-1 is concluded. Unlike domestic pricing proposals, International Mail proposals do not require PRC review.
For complete information regarding this proposal as well as rate tables, summaries and the December 20 Federal Register notice, go to and click on the Read about the Proposed International Mail Changes button. For current international rates and fees, check Publication 51, International Postal Rates & Fees on the USPS Publications website: and the International Mail Manual For International Customized Mail program updates, go to
General information on international mailing and shipping can be found at the International Mail and Packages page at Commercial customers interested in business options may contact Global Business Management Executive Director Frank Cebello by e-mail at: For other information, or to find local USPS contacts, e-mail the Postal Service at:
Janet Mitchell is Manager of International Products for the U.S. Postal Service Product Development group. Yvonne Yoerger handles public affairs and communications for the USPS Package Services and Global Business units.