Tracking International Parcels with the Customs Form
By Lissa McGrath
The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland brought airline travel to a halt across many European countries in April. Merchants shipping parcels to customers in Europe were likely caught up in the no-fly zone, and more ash plumes have erupted this month, disrupting flights and causing further delays in package delivery.
Most customers understand such delays, and last month, eBay added text on the feedback page for UK buyers to remind them of the issue: "Due to the impact of recent volcanic activity in Iceland on air travel across Europe, many domestic and international postal services have been delayed. Please bear this in mind when leaving feedback."
But here's something many people don't know - you can track USPS parcels being delivered in the UK even if they're not Express Mail. All you need is the Customs form number.
Go to ParcelForce.com and enter the customs number (for example, CJ123456789US) in the tracking box on the right side. If the parcel hasn't been delivered yet, you'll see a parcel status page. Click on the tracking number (it will have changed to match the UK tracking format) and you can see exactly where it is, in the US or UK. Once it makes it to the UK, it typically takes two days for delivery.
If the parcel has been delivered, you may see a page that says it can't track the status. If this is the case, enter the tracking number in the box provided and check the "incoming international parcel" box and then click "track." Now it will find it and show you who signed for it. (Yes, every Priority Mail International parcel gets signed for in the UK, and you can see the scanned signature proof of delivery right on the ParcelForce.com website.)
Most UK customers weren't too worried about delays caused by the volcanic eruption, they just wanted to know approximately when they would get their item. By using the ParcelForce website when such situations arise, you can see far more accurately where your parcel is and when it is expected to be delivered to your customer.
You can give the customs form number to any of your UK customers and they can track the parcel just as you would if it were Express Mail International (but without the extra cost). Just remember to direct them to the Parcel Force website, not USPS.com!
About the Author
Lissa McGrath is the author of three eBay books, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to eBay" 2nd Edition (Alpha, 2010); "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to eBay Motors" (Alpha, 2008); and "20 Questions To Ask Before Selling On eBay" (Career Press, 2006). She is also the editor of eight other eBay books. You can reach Lissa directly at lissa (at) lissamcgrath (dot) com or through her website http://www.lissamcgrath.com.
About the author:
Lissa McGrath is the author of three eBay books, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to eBay" 2nd Edition (Alpha, 2010); "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to eBay Motors" (Alpha, 2008); and "20 Questions To Ask Before Selling On eBay" (Career Press, 2006). She is also the editor of eight other eBay books.
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