International Postal Tracking: Everything You Need to Know

International Postal Tracking

International Postal Tracking

We are all in some manner confronted with the problem of tracking the postal item by which the ordered goods are delivered to us when making purchases in foreign online retailers.

The general concerns around monitoring international post items (IPI) will be covered in this article. The broad concepts by which IPIs are separated into tracked and untraceable, the primary delivery steps that goods travel through, will be addressed. The issue of the structure of international tracking numbers assigned to IPIs is separately considered.

Tracked and Non-tracked IPIs

IPIs (international post items) are divided into two main categories:

  • parcels (over 2 kg);
  • small packages (up to 2 kg).

IPIs are also divided into:

  • registered (Trackable);
  • unregistered (no tracking).

Small packages might be registered or unregistered, however, parcels and all EMS shipments are always registered shipments.

An IPI in Deutsche Post tracking that has been registered in the country of origin is given a distinct 13-digit tracking number, which allows you to trace the IPI’s progress from sender to destination using the tracking systems of these countries’ national postal operators or other independent tracking services such as

For registered small items, the tracking number always starts with the letter R (Registered).

As a result, only EMS shipments, parcels, and registered small items may be tracked using tracking services, provided that you are aware of the tracking number.

Average Delivery Times for IPI

Average delivery times for IPI may vary and depend on the following factors:

Type of departure

As a rule, parcels are delivered faster than small packages, because they have priority in service. As for small packages, the delivery times for registered (tracked) IPIs are practically no different from the delivery times for unregistered ones.

Type of postal item

Postal items issued through EMS are delivered faster than IPI sent by state postal services.

Country of origin and country of delivery

Postal services in different countries have different mail processing technologies and different deadlines. Therefore, for example, shipments from China take longer to arrive in Europe than shipments from Hong Kong or Singapore. And departures from the UK, all other things being equal, are faster than departures from the USA.


Every postal service in the world has peak periods when the postal service operates at its maximum capacity. As a rule, these are national holidays. There is also a globally difficult period common to all services in the world – the New Year holidays. Moreover, delivery delays begin from the end of November – the beginning of December, and more or less the work of postal departments returns to normal only by the end of January.

During this period, there are very large delays in delivery, which can reach 2–3 months. It is also worth noting the celebration of the New Year according to the lunar calendar – during these periods the postal services of the countries of Southeast Asia are extremely unstable and often do not work at all. For example, in China during this period the New Year holidays begin and practically no one works for 2–3 weeks in February. Therefore, it is better to refrain from online shopping during the holidays.

To reduce the time spent on the tracking process itself, it is of course recommended to use independent tracking services that allow you to create lists of track numbers. The tracking number is added there once and only then you can easily view the tracking results once every 1–2 days. This significantly reduces the time it takes to track all your parcels and saves you stress.

Good luck with your shopping and fast shipping!