International postal tracking is a complex matrix.
Unlike, independent express carriers, such as DHL, FedEx, UPS etc, postal is country owned or country regulated. Express carriers are commercial businesses that have common integrated system regardless of country of operation to ensure a seamless tracking of the packages. In comparison, Postal Operator is independently operated, every country Postal Operator manages their own system and protocol, that is unrelated to one another.
For country that is a member of the United Nation, the point of connection between each Postal Operator is linked through United Postal Union (UPU). One of the main functions of UPU is to organize and improve postal service throughout the world, and to ensure international collaboration between member countries.
UPU has developed system framework for member countries to exchange postal data, hence tracking availability for certain postal shipments, e.g., Registered Packages (RA)
RA and Tracking Results
Having an item number affixed to a package does not ensure trackability of a shipment.
At the origin, the Postal Operator often provides 2 basic results: -
- Package accepted at the operator
- Package dispatch out from origin to destination
Any additional results following the Dispatch Status is provided by the destination operator through the UPU common system made available to its member countries through subscription.
Some Postal Operators, such as Australia Post, Canada Post and United States Postal Service, do not extend online tracking details for RA shipment. For these countries, an alternative postal option such ePacket (EPAC), can be considered if full tracking is required.
There are Postal Operators, such as Israel Post, Austria Post, China Post and Posten Norway, that do not wish to exchange last mile postal tracking data back to the sending country. For any further tracking, this can only be done at the respective country's Postal Operator website. Below is a screenshot example of a RA tracking to Austria where last file delivery data is not made available at the sending country.
Other known exception includes Peru, where tracking of packages is only made available to registered user with the country postal system within the country. There is also postal operator that restricts web access based on IP. For example, Chile Postal Operator has blocked access to their website ((https://www.correos.cl/)) for Singapore IP. To access restricted website, one needs to subscribe to VPN service.
Special Note to “Arrival at Destination” Status
More than a decade ago, the status “Arrival at Destination”, AD for short is not available on the postal tracking system.
AD is a special arrangement requested by origin Postal Administration with the airline / linehaul.
AD status is not an individual update of the package. It is a “bulk” status update provided through the airline / linehaul. Within the same dispatch, there could be hundreds or thousands of packages. The airline / linehaul provides the AD status to origin when the dispatch is handed over to the destination air transit center.
At some countries, with the AD sattus, the destination's Postal Operator support hotline may not be able to assist as AD status does not mean that the package has been processed. Further status or assistance is usually made available only after the dispatch is cleared, unbagged, and individually processed by the destination postal operator.