International Mail Options – Making the Best Decision for Your Business

For those of you playing in the international mail arena, are your foreign mail shipping results meeting the expectations of your customers? How about for your bottom line? If your answer is a wishy-washy “maybe” then let’s talk international mail options because it’s much easier, faster, and cheaper than ever before.

If you’re not yet in the international direct mail world, take the plunge. Why? Canadian and international markets receive far less direct mail than U.S. consumers. Not only will you stand out and get opened, but in many countries the concept of direct mail is still very new and folks are actually excited to receive your offers; best of all they also typically pass it along to family and friends. U.S. consumers receive an average of 290 pieces of direct mail per year, Canadians an average of 130, and international markets an average of 15-70 annually. These numbers make for pretty good odds that your piece has a much better shot anywhere else other than the U.S.

First and foremost, you need to engage an experienced global mail vendor, specifically one certified as a USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler (PQW). USPS is one of the largest and most economical players in the foreign mail space, mail firms who become certified as a PQW have passed seriously rigorous requirements, one of them being extensive prior experience in the international mail world. Let’s face it, foreign mail is very complicated with the potential for long delays and additional fees that could ruin your ROI, that’s why many U.S. companies avoid growth into this space. Finding the right partner means your company can expand without risk.

The options for international mail services are fairly straight-forward and selected based on the weight of piece or speed desired. USPS delivers to 180 countries, click for full list.

USPS Priority Mail International (IPA) – Airmail delivery in 6-10 business days. Rate based on weight and location.

USPS First-Class Mail International – Airmail delivery in 6-14 business days. Rate based on weight, but only available for packages under 4 pounds. A very economical method.

USPS International Surface Airlift (ISAL) – A hybrid of Surface and Airmail delivery typically arrives within 7-21 business days. Rate is based on weight and location, but only available for packages under 4 pounds. A very economical method.

IPA and ISAL are both far superior to regular airmail both in terms of cost and delivery reliability. With International Priority Mail (IPA), mailed items travel directly from the U.S. to the destination country by air. They never stop at any other country along the way for posting. Upon arrival in the destination country, IPA items are then injected into the local mail stream and delivered on a priority basis. Since IPA is a USPS service, foreign postmarks are never added; and therefore, U.S. origin identity is preserved — including your return address. The USPS maintains control of the item until it enters the destination country’s priority mail stream ensuring dependability for time-sensitive materials.

International Surface Airlift (ISAL), the most cost-effective choice for bulk mail, works much the same way except that once the mail enters the local country’s mail system it’s delivered as standard instead of priority mail. ISAL uses drop ship service to various USPS International Service Centers and then combines with other mailers to obtain volume efficiency and substantial cost savings over airmail. Deep discounts are available for volume with ISAL. If your business has substantial foreign mail volume, you’ll definitely want to consult your mail firm to recommend the best options to meet your needs. For both services, USPS returns undeliverable mail directly to your address free of charge.

It’s easier than ever to reach customers all around the globe – don’t restrict your business. Whether you’re a direct mailer or printer looking for solutions for your clients, partner with an experienced global mailer and expand your horizons today!

Three Dog Logistics is a certified USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler (PQW) with extensive knowledge of the international list and mail business. Our consultants will help develop a plan that delivers your direct mail at the lowest cost and fastest delivery speed possible. Remember, we take the bite out of postage and freight. Visit or call 410-284-5494 extension 220 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.