The US Postal Service has implemented new standards to recover the cost of handling undeliverable-as-addressed items posted from abroad with a US return address. The change took place January 14.
In the past, the USPS provided the return service without charge. Now, to recover the cost of handling these mailpieces, the new regulations will allow the USPS to collect the applicable First-Class Mail International rate.
If an item has been mailed in a foreign country by or on behalf of a US resident or US-based firm, and the foreign postage rate applied to the item is less than the US domestic rate, then the USPS will have the right to collect the applicable postage.
Essentially, this is putting down in writing something that the Universal Postal Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations, put into effect in 1999, said Yvonne Yoerger, spokeswoman for USPS.
She added that, since then, it has been up to individual countries whether they wanted to follow the practice or not. In the US, for example, the practice has not been applied consistently. “We want to get a handle on how significant this is for us,” she said.
The USPS is currently collecting data on how much money it stands to save from the change, according to Obataiye B. Akinwole, USPS classification specialist. “We know that it is an issue, we’re just looking to see how big an issue it is now,” he said.