US parcels need higher data quality from 1st January 2021

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It’s not just Brexit related changes that retailers and mail providers need to be ready for on the 1st of January 2021. US parcels will also see more stringent data requirements when arriving in the country.

Hurricane Commerce forecast that several hundred million mail parcels destined for the United States will be rejected when the requirement for a higher threshold of advance electronic data for US parcels comes into force on the 1st of January 2021. It’s been confirmed that any US parcels arriving with incorrect or incomplete data will be refused and returned to origin.

Hurricane Commerce, a specialist in cross-border trade data and compliance technology, says the United States Postal Service (USPS) deadline leaves posts with a huge challenge to meet in just a few weeks.

The 1st of January deadline marks the latest step in the enforcement of the US STOP Act which is primarily intended to crack down on the importation of illicit opioids into the country.

“The USPS is under pressure to fully implement the STOP Act and posts have been informed that the quality threshold for valid advance electronic data on mail parcels is being raised to a whole new level from the start of next year. From January 1, posts will be expected without exception to provide complete and valid data on all inbound mail parcels into the US.
As things stand that means several hundred million parcels are likely to be rejected and eventually returned to their origin. This kind of volume will not only create immense logistical challenges but will also have a serious impact on air cargo capacity. Refused parcels will be returned to their country of origin which, in turn, will lead to mail parcel blockages of tens of millions of items. This problem will be exacerbated by the huge reduction in the number of planes flying due to Covid-19.
The cost implications are significant in terms of warehousing, storage and returns, while there is also the issue of customer dissatisfaction and the increase in carbon footprint.”

– Martyn Noble, CEO, Hurricane Commerce

Earlier this year, Hurricane Commerce launched its easy to integrate Zephyr data enhancement product which allows bulk clearance facilities to check the accuracy of data including product descriptions and HS6 codes, and receive additional pertinent or missing information all under a single quick check function.

Zephyr can process over 700 million requests a day and can, on an item by item API call base, provide for a real time feedback with response times of 100 milliseconds. The screening of a file consisting of a maximum of 10,000 items that is sent to Hurricane takes no more than 15 minutes.

“The USPS deadline is real and is just a few weeks away from being rigorously enforced. Our Zephyr solution has been created specifically to meet this challenge and can be activated and delivering enhanced data quickly. We know from customer results that Zephyr enables posts to achieve the required data quality threshold. Posts which are able to meet the rigorous higher standards being set by the USPS are likely to gain a competitive edge in the world of cross-border trade.”
– David Spottiswood, co-founder, Hurricane Commerce

7 Responses

  1. Can I assume that this is only for parcels being injected into the USPS, and if you are sending via a courier such as DHL, FedEx etc. it won’t apply?

  2. Yes, integrators have always had to provide advance electronic data (AED) but rigorous enforcement being implemented by the USPS from January 1, 2021, will inevitably mean tougher checks for all. This will mean significant delays for in-bound mail parcels into the States unless operators are able to meet the required threshold for higher quality data.

  3. does this affect individuals posting parcels to the US? If so can anyone tell us what is required over and above the current customs sticker issued by the Post Office?

  4. I suspect some of this is already happening. I send letter sized items tracked via Royal Mail with CN22 and electronic customs data supplied via Click & Drop. Several have got to the US and then been returned to the UK. They are then sent straight back by RM and get through OK second time. Annoying as I get no indication as to what I could do differently to avoid this.

  5. Ian, I was in a similar position. Have you set your labels to print in letter size format? I found that when I applied the ‘parcel’ format labels sideways on my letter-sized items, the USPS (US Post) scanners were actually reading my return delivery address in the UK, and therefore rejecting them and returning to the UK. Ridiculous but true, computer says ‘no’. Any human input would have prevented this mistake, given that the delivery address is correctly on the letter/parcel too…. but hey ho…
    Still have items delayed though, and it would be nice to know if I was filling out any details incorrectly…. but there is no feedback process from USPS/Royal Mail.


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