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US Customs Export Control Says: I’m Screwed



Update: It looks like this problem may have been resolved by USPS, with international shipments sent May 11 or later proceeding normally. But there’s still confusion about the source of the problem, the date it was resolved, and whether it’s truly fixed. It appears it’s necessary to buy new postage to reship any returned packages – reshipping using the original postage label reportedly does not work. Unfortunately, all requests for postage refunds have been denied so far.

Help! This is very bad. Since sometime about April 26, nearly every international shipment I’ve sent has been returned by US Export Control, for unknown reasons. The packages come back with an export compliance sticker that says something is “missing”, but doesn’t explain further. I discussed the problem with the staff at my local post office, but they couldn’t explain it either, and said the customs information on the package looked OK to them. They also said that when an outbound package is rejected by US Export Control, there’s basically no recourse: the customs inspectors don’t respond to calls or emails about specific packages. In the staff’s words, “You just have to guess”.

All of the packages were shipped by US Postal Service’s First Class Package International service. I’ve not recently changed anything about the packages, their contents, the address labels, or the customs information printed on the label. I’ve previously shipped thousands of substantially identical packages internationally without incident. But not anymore.

TL;DR – I am completely unable to ship any international packages, and I don’t know why, or who to ask for help. The shipments never get out of the USA.

To put it mildly, this is bad.

The specific package shown in the photo contained a ROM SIMM and an empty plastic case for one of my electronics products. But most of the rejected packages contained a BMOW Floppy Emu – a disk drive emulator for retro Apple computers.

None of the returned packages had been opened, so there was never any time that an export compliance person looked at the contents inside the package, looked at the item description on the label, and decided whether they matched. The decision to return the package was 100 percent based on the information printed on the label, perhaps combined with information submitted electronically when the postage was purchased. But nobody at the post office seems able explain anything more than that.

There are some clues. Here’s a list of every international shipment I made between April 19 and May 6.

Date Destination Tracking Contents Status
4/19/21 Canada LW227139012US Emu Bundle, ROM-inator delivered
4/19/21 Bulgaria UC009977527US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
4/19/21 Canada LW227139026US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/19/21 Germany LW227139349US Emu Bundle delivered
4/19/21 Netherlands LW227139352US Emu Bundle delivered
4/19/21 Italy UC009977717US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
4/19/21 Switzerland UC009977725US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/19/21 Germany LW227139882US Emu Bundle delivered
4/19/21 Austria UC009977734US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
4/19/21 Canada LW227140038US Emu Bundle delivered
4/21/21 Japan LW227159119US Emu Bundle delivered
4/21/21 Italy UC009981138US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/21/21 Italy UC009981141US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/21/21 Belgium LW227159502US Emu Bundle, ROM-inator delivered
4/21/21 Netherlands W227159516US Emu Bundle delivered
4/21/21 UK LW227159935US Emu Bundle delivered
4/21/21 Switzerland UC009981257US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/21/21 Finland UC009981265US Emu Bundle in transit, outside USA
4/23/21 Japan LW227178166US Emu Bundle, ROM-inator delivered
4/23/21 Canada LW227178705US Emu Bundle, ROM-inator, ADB cable delivered
4/23/21 Australia LW227178719US ROM-inator delivered
4/23/21 Canada LW227178722US Emu Bundle, SD card delivered
4/26/21 Canada LW227199020US Emu Bundle, Noisy Disk in transit, outside USA
4/26/21 Australia LW227199033US Emu Bundle delivered
4/26/21 Canada LW227199603US Emu Case, ROM-inator returned to sender
4/26/21 Italy UC009987745US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
4/28/21 Canada LW227224665US Emu Bundle returned to sender
4/30/21 UK LW227242788US Emu Case, Wombat Case returned to sender
4/30/21 Sweden UC009995619US Noisy Disk, Daisy Chainer in transit, outside USA
4/30/21 Italy UC009995640US Noisy Disk in transit, in USA
5/3/21 UK LW227275605US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/3/21 Canada LW227275619US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/3/21 Australia LW227275622US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/3/21 Czech Rep. UC010000416US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
5/3/21 Mexico UC010000420US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/3/21 Belgium LW227276035US Emu Model C, ROM-inator returned to sender
5/3/21 Germany LW227276044US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/3/21 Germany LW227276486US Emu Bundle, SD card, ROM-inator returned to sender
5/5/21 Canada LW227298552US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/5/21 UK LW227298566US Daisy Chainer in transit, outside USA
5/5/21 Netherlands LW227298570US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/5/21 UK LW227299116US ROM-inator in transit, outside USA
5/5/21 Australia LW227299120US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/5/21 France LW227299133US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/5/21 Switzerland UC010004885US Emu Bundle returned to sender
5/6/21 Ireland UC010007326US Emu Bundle in transit, in USA
5/6/21 Canada LW227312529US Emu Bundle, ROM-inator returned to sender

Almost all of the packages shipped prior to April 26 have been delivered, or have at least made it outside the US. The three from before the 26th that show “in transit, in USA” are misleading because they all have tracking numbers starting with the letters UC, which indicates a destination country where tracking normally isn’t available beyond the US border.

But almost every package shipped After April 26 is either still stuck in the US, or has been returned.

Something changed within a few days around or after April 26. The date of change was probably May 1 – roughly when packages shipped April 26 would arrive for customs processing. A new customs inspector employee? New inspection procedures or policies? New export control laws? Or maybe something changed with Shippo, the service that I use to print the address and customs labels?

Notice that the return label says more information is available at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ if you click on “Export Issues” under Consumer Help. But that section and that heading do not exist. I couldn’t find anything on that site to help explain what’s going on. Edit: see this 2018 archive.org backup of the uspis web site.

With no information and apparently no recourse, I’m starting to panic a little. For the time being I’ll have to disable all ordering for customers outside the USA, which is a large fraction of the total for BMOW. And I’ll have to contact all the customers whose shipments have already been impacted, or who’ve ordered and paid but whose packages haven’t yet shipped, and try to determine what’s the next step.

If you know anyone who works in any type of export manager capacity, who might be able to advise or consult with me on this, that would be fantastic. Or if you know anybody affiliated with the postal inspection service who might have insight into what’s going on, that would be great too. I’ll take all the help I can get to resolve this crisis.

Read 200 comments and join the conversation 

200 Comments so far

  1. keith - May 7th, 2021 9:12 pm

    The question is, in my mind. Did you get caught up in the END ban of vapor delivery of e-cigs? I don’t know this. But it’s possible. There is a link at the end of this post. Suspecting because the date you stated of April 26th. Just a guesson my part. If I am wrong, just a quick Google search USPS and April 26.

    https://www.martindale.com/legal-news/article_keller-and-heckman-llp_2544264.htm

  2. Ed - May 8th, 2021 5:57 am

    I notice your ‘Signature’ is a printed string.

  3. Avi - May 8th, 2021 6:52 am

    You use Shippo; have you contacted their support? Perhaps they have relevant ideas.

  4. Steve - May 8th, 2021 7:16 am

    I’ve reached out to Shippo and also to another small electronics shipper, to see if other people are experiencing a similar problem. It would help to know if this is a widespread issue or if it’s just me. If it’s just me, maybe there’s a problem with the product descriptions or HS tariff numbers I’m using (although these haven’t changed in years). If it’s a more widespread problem, then maybe there are some new export requirements. It’s crazy that export control rejects the package without explaining why it was rejected or providing a way to learn more.

  5. Adrian - May 8th, 2021 8:38 am

    You may have to add a commercial invoice that also states the export control number (ECCN) for each individual item.

    The plastic case will be EAR99 NLR, but determining the correct one for electronic items can be more involved. Old and/or slow electronics may still be EAR99, but faster and more sophisticated tech will have a specific classification. If Mouser or Digi-Key sell products with similar specs and function, you can see what they use in the compliance section of the product page.

  6. Steve - May 8th, 2021 8:52 am

    A commercial invoice seems like it could be what’s “missing”, but supposedly it’s not required for international shipments sent by US Postal Service. See here: https://support.goshippo.com/hc/en-us/articles/203004889-Customs-Declarations-in-Shippo But maybe that’s changed.

    You could be on to something regarding ECCN numbers. I supply HS Tariff codes, which is a similar idea but apparently is used for different purposes. Some info about the difference is here: https://www.shippingsolutions.com/blog/export-codes-eccn-vs-hs-and-hts-classifications

    However, there’s no place on the Form 2976 CN-22 customs declaration for any ECCN information. Neither Shippo nor the US Post Office online service ask for that information or require it when entering the customs data, as far as I can tell. So I’m thinking ECCN is probably not the problem here, but who knows.

  7. BO - May 8th, 2021 8:49 am

    Not sure that it will help you, but you can reach the old https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ site via Wayback Machine.

  8. Steve - May 8th, 2021 8:58 am

    Good tip about the Wayback Machine. You can see the relevant “Export Issues” page here: https://web.archive.org/web/20180409233929/https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/consumer/ExportIssues.html

  9. Steve - May 8th, 2021 10:20 am

    Regarding the ECCN information: it’s my understanding that by writing NOEEI 30.37(a) on the label in the box for AES/ITN/Exemption, I’m stating that the items don’t require an export license or permit and are valued under $2500, so no commercial invoice or ECCN numbers should be required. In other words, I think what I have included on the form should be OK as-is.

  10. Ed - May 8th, 2021 10:35 am

    I wonder if it’s the “full legal name” which is the problem? Maybe they have connected different databases and want to find a record of someone with the exact name given.

  11. Steve - May 8th, 2021 11:33 am

    Ahh, full legal name is an interesting theory that might be supported by recent events. I will change it to say Stephen instead of Steve. That wouldn’t seem to fit with something being “missing”, but I like the database suggestion. I haven’t talked about this yet, but I hired an employee a few weeks ago, which involved an insane amount of paperwork and definitely associated my full name, company name, and address in some government databases.

  12. Steve - May 8th, 2021 3:08 pm

    Yet another possibility: there’s a new customs system in Europe called ICS2 that went live recently, and one of its requirements is for more descriptive item descriptions. Some of my rejected packages were for non-EU countries, but maybe US export control is applying the same standards everywhere? There’s a list of examples of unacceptable and acceptable item descriptions here: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/resources/documents/customs/customs_code/guidance_acceptable_goods_description_en.pdf

    The problem with examples like this is they’re geared towards everyday commodity goods everyone is familiar with. So you can write “iPad” or “polyurethane medical gloves” in the item description, but no customs inspector will know what the heck “Floppy Emu” means. I normally write “floppy disk emulator”. If that’s not descriptive enough, I’m not sure what more to add – there’s only space for a few words max.

  13. Steve - May 8th, 2021 4:34 pm

    And another clue: There’s a new step that appears in the tracking info of almost all the packages sent after April 26, but none of the packages before then. It appears early in the tracking history, and shows “Customs Clearance ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)”. Based on the timing, this must be an entirely electronic process, because it happens before San Francisco could plausibly have physically received the package. This is pretty strong evidence that the problem is due to this ICS2 process change, rather than anything that I accidentally changed on my end, or Shippo on theirs.

  14. Adrian - May 8th, 2021 4:59 pm

    I just checked tracking on about a dozen packages I’ve shipped internationally through SFO in the last few weeks and didn’t see the ISC entry on any of them. Though ISC rings a bell and I may have seen it occasionally in the past. You may have landed on a watch list for not knowing the secret handshake.

  15. Josh - May 8th, 2021 5:13 pm

    I don’t have my floppyEMU at hand, but I think all of the parts on it are well into EAR99, with many actually being formally “obsolete” by the manufacturer. I had a shipment of 6809P CPUs rejected by customs because I described them as “electronic components” which, of course, is a useless description to a customs official.

    In addition to all previous suggestions (a simple commercial invoice, full legal name, etc.) I would perhaps suggest the description “Obsolete data storage device”. The term “obsolete” seems to be the magic word in exporting retro stuff.

    Good luck!

  16. Steve - May 8th, 2021 5:29 pm

    Hmm, it looks like ISC just means “international sorting center” and ISC San Francisco has existed for a long time, though it never appeared in my tracking info before. ICS2 means international customs service version 2. I transposed the letters and thought they were the same… not sure it’s related after all.

  17. DS - May 9th, 2021 6:20 am

    Saw it on HN, share my experience in case it’s useful: I had a DHL package to Hongkong rejected by US custom around Apr 20. It was a return of a product, so I contacted the seller, they said some requirement from customs changed, and ask me to print a new proforma with additional line of “Employer identification number: xxxxxxxxx”. It then went thru the customs around Apr 27.

  18. Jeremy - May 9th, 2021 6:52 am

    As a hacky workaround for your Australian customers, you could consider recommending ShopMate, an official service run by Australia Post, the national post office, who have a shipping address based in Oregon:

    https://shopmate.auspost.com.au/

    (For what little it’s worth)

  19. Ryan - May 9th, 2021 7:52 am

    Reach out to flexport, that’s what customs brokers help with. Trying to figure this out yourself is not a good use of your time. Focus on making awesome products and connecting with customers who want them. Everything else you should turn over to experts, most of all customs regs.

  20. Charlie - May 10th, 2021 7:48 am

    I also sell online (automotive parts) and ship internationally somewhat often (also using Shippo). I noticed that one of my recent shipments (to Canada, shipped out late April) is currently being returned to me, in a very similar fashion of what you describe. However, I had another shipment to Canada shipped a few days later go through with no issue (both packages having the exact same content/label). I’ve sent out several dozens of packages internationally this year (USPS thru Shippo) and have not had this happen until now. So I don’t think this is an isolated incident!

  21. Steve - May 10th, 2021 8:52 am

    Thanks Charlie. I’d love to compare notes about this – I sent you email.

  22. Danelle M Tavares - May 10th, 2021 12:10 pm

    We are experiencing the exact same issue. Every Canada shipment since April 28th has been returned saying missing. Our postmaster said to include the commercial invoice and make a very detailed description. Sending our first one with all the additional info today. Will keep you posted.

  23. Steve - May 10th, 2021 12:31 pm

    Interesting. According to Shippo’s help docs, a commercial invoice isn’t required for international shipments via US Postal Service: https://support.goshippo.com/hc/en-us/articles/203004889-Customs-Declarations-in-Shippo#h_fcd4d7db-3651-4f3c-9b34-05cb4268acef I wonder if Shippo is wrong, or if maybe this requirement has changed recently.

  24. Ten Tea - May 10th, 2021 12:32 pm

    Same issue here as well, we sent numerous First class and priority International packages to Canada and most we returned with the same sticker, marking ‘Missing’. Please keep posted if you were able to figure out the reasoning, we are currently waiting for a response from USPS as well.

  25. Danelle M Tavares - May 10th, 2021 12:42 pm

    I read something about descriptions of product need to be detailed. We ship mostly clothing and always just put clothing or garment. We are sending out today’s shipment with way more description. I will keep you guys updated as to whether we get these returned.

  26. Samantha Muth - May 10th, 2021 1:48 pm

    This is also happening to us. We have over 30 international packages being rejected at the San Francisco facility. -__- I don’t think this is an isolated incident after reading this thread.

  27. Steve - May 10th, 2021 2:51 pm

    My crystal ball says 75 percent chance this is all due to item descriptions not being detailed enough, 20 percent chance it’s due to absence of a commercial invoice, 5 percent due to Moon being in conjunction with Saturn.

  28. Ciaran - May 10th, 2021 4:41 pm

    Just happened to me too, trying to send documents to Ireland in a priority mail envelope. Got as far as San Francisco International Distribution Center then straight back to me.

    Not sure what to do other than guess at better descriptions? This isn’t a commercial shipment and I printed the label from USPS’s own site.

  29. Chase Doyel - May 10th, 2021 6:16 pm

    We’re experiencing the exact same issue. We’ve unfortunately sent 100’s of international orders since the 26th of April. If anyone figures this out please let us know.

  30. Alexander Gee - May 10th, 2021 7:41 pm
  31. Amy - May 11th, 2021 1:38 am

    Is anyone having the issue with ISC other than the San Francisco one? From the above I only see SF (p.s. me too), wonder if it’s happening in other ISCs too or only SF.

  32. Andreas Riesen - May 11th, 2021 3:44 am

    I wonder, what kind of service this is. It takes 5 days just to ship within greater San Francisco area and now it comes back to you. I wonder, how long it takes to ship to Europe and tracking information is really poor, does not say anything “travelling within the network”….
    Andy

  33. Chase Doyel - May 11th, 2021 3:54 am

    All our shipments are sent back from the San Francisco shipping center. Also, is everyone else using shippo?

  34. Steve - May 11th, 2021 7:12 am

    At least one of the affected people here is using Endicia, not Shippo (reported to me privately)

  35. Chase Doyel - May 11th, 2021 5:53 am

    Just an update, I contacted Shippo and they mentioned several customers have been experiencing the same issues and they are working towards a solution. I believe the issue is Shippo.

    Another resource I have is a phone number for USPS office of consumer affairs. They almost never answer, but will sometimes call you back. 971-201-3700

    We’re working tirelessly to solve this issue and I will write back with any solutions we do find.

  36. Sam - May 11th, 2021 6:46 am

    Yes, I’m using Shippo too.

  37. Charlie - May 11th, 2021 6:54 am

    Using Shippo here as well

  38. Steve - May 11th, 2021 7:02 am

    If you’ve been affected by this “Return to Sender – Missing” problem, would you please take a moment to complete this survey about the details of your shipments and returns? I’m hoping there are enough affected people that if we pool our information, we can find some patterns to explain what’s happening. Thank you! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdH4g0nUquw0m8zVyvI3fcdUIJiImX05P7HudHiKwJp5hgwdA/viewform?usp=sf_link

  39. Danelle M Tavares - May 11th, 2021 7:15 am

    We use Endicia not shippo. Also, ours are only coming back from San Fran as well.

  40. Al Nonomus - May 11th, 2021 7:54 am

    Switch to a different shipper, UPS/FedEx/DHL see if your shipments work with them.

    Alternatively, it could be the USPS hub location your packages are transiting thru. Find a postal service centre on the opposite coast or another end of the same. Have them catch and reship. This will tell you if it is a local issue or a larger system-wide problem.

  41. Ten Tea - May 11th, 2021 10:00 am

    I just had another order returned to me just now. I use USPS.com to process my First Class/ Priority International orders and have been using it for the past few years with no issues. It is just recently that orders are being rejected from the San Francisco ISC. Still no update from USPS regarding the issue

  42. Chase Doyel - May 11th, 2021 10:02 am

    I went to the post office this morning. They were obviously no help, however they did say other customers have been experiencing the same issue. He gave me the same consumers affair number I listed earlier. I’ve called several times to without any response. I’d suggest others do the same.

    Starting to think this is bigger than just shippo.

  43. Steve - May 11th, 2021 10:40 am

    It’s still a guess, but I think the problem is probably with the item descriptions being insufficiently descriptive, according to somebody’s subjective judgement. Look at my updated shipment table in the main post. While the correspondence isn’t perfect, all of the packages that *did not* contain an Emu or Emu Case appear to have passed through export control successfully. This tells me that somebody has judged the Emu’s “floppy disk emulator” description to be unacceptable. I’m reshipping four packages today, with the new description “computer external disk drive”, using three different postage purchase services. Now to wait and see what happens.

  44. Mark - May 11th, 2021 12:10 pm

    Hi! We just got our first “Returned Due to Export Compliance” sticker with only the “Missing” box checked.

    Thank you so much for starting this thread! The sticker left us with WTF? what do we do now? There doesn’t seem to be anything actionable…

    Similar to you, I am guessing that someone in Customs is simply trying to match the HS code with the description. So, I’m going to try print the exact same label, but add additional description and see if that makes it through.

  45. Mike - May 11th, 2021 12:52 pm

    I just got two packages back and went to the post office. They couldn’t give me an exact answer, but said my description was not detailed enough. I’ve never had this happen before either. They said to add additional detail to the description (on the original label) and to send it again. We’ll see if it gets kicked back. I figured the postage was invalidated at this point, but I’ll follow their directions.

  46. JDL - May 11th, 2021 1:58 pm

    Same problem experienced here. Shipped from local post office in WA directly to the UK. All of what everyone else is experiencing seems to have happened to me also.

    No shipping service or third party involved.

  47. Steve - May 11th, 2021 3:54 pm

    The link was broken for the survey about “Return to Sender – Missing”. Please try it again now. I’m hoping to collect data about what shipper and shipping methods people used, the item descriptions on the customs form, date the problem started, and other details that might help identify a pattern for this problem. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdH4g0nUquw0m8zVyvI3fcdUIJiImX05P7HudHiKwJp5hgwdA/viewform?usp=sf_link

  48. Chase Doyel - May 12th, 2021 8:35 am

    Someone from USPS Consumer affairs returned my call today. She confirmed she has heard of a lot of people with this same exact issue. She talked with me for a minute about how strange it was, and basically said in a nice way there’s nothing she can really do.

    She gave me two pieces of advice. The first is to go to https://internationalclaims.usps.com/INQUIRY/inquiry/index.do and file a claim. For some reason I was unable to get a claim filed using this. It would error out for one reason or another. The other piece of advice is to call 1-800-222-1811, I have a feeling this is just the generic USPS call center. Most likely just another rabbit hole to go down.

    I have since updated about (30) returned orders with extremely detailed descriptions and sent them back out using the same label. Didn’t make since for me to gamble printing new labels for all of these if they were just going to be returned again. Fingers crossed they don’t come back.

    Makes me feel a little better that this seems to be a widespread problem. Just a matter of time before someone in the right position catches wind of this issue and is able to set it right.

  49. EP - May 12th, 2021 9:35 am

    Same issue brewing here. Two packages have already come back and there are more out there which I fear will come back too. They hit “Customs Clearance ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)” in the morning and by afternoon are listed as Return to Sender. Just “Missing” is checked on the box without further info. Sent with Click N Ship, Priority International, signed, reasonably detailed description (Automotive Tools, Trim Removal Tools for example), all lower value items, no invoices as it’s never been required before. Definitely not sending out the higher value $100+ to ship package today via USPS that’s for sure. Hopefully someone here gets an answer soon. Thanks for your post!

  50. Mike Cadoo - May 12th, 2021 10:58 am

    Same here. Started in late April. We added invoices to the first returned batch to see if that would help. Our descriptions are not terrible as we are sending records and I put “Vinyl Record” on the description. I’m hoping the invoices do the trick.

  51. Steve - May 12th, 2021 11:11 am

    There have been 16 replies to the survey so far. Everyone affected shipped by US Postal Service First Class Package International or Priority Mail International. 50 percent bought the postage at USPS.com Click n Ship, 25 percent at Shippo, and 25 percent somewhere else. So it doesn’t look like a Shippo-specific problem. The earliest problem dates are for packages shipped April 26-28. On a scale of 1 (vague) to 5 (super descriptive) most people judged their item descriptions to be a 3 or 4. Two people included a commercial invoice with their shipment and 14 did not. One person included some ECCN or EAR99 info with their shipment, and 15 did not.

    I also called the USPS consumer affairs number yesterday and left a message, but I’ve heard nothing back.

    Yesterday I reshipped four packages, with new postage and more detailed descriptions. I didn’t include a commercial invoice, as I never have in the past. Now I’m watching their tracking progress like an expectant mother. Two have reached “Processed Through Regional Facility”, which I think is hopeful?

  52. Steve - May 12th, 2021 11:14 am

    There’s a Hacker News discussion about this blog post, in which people offer some additional thoughts on how to proceed. Worth reading. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27095010

  53. Ciaran - May 12th, 2021 1:57 pm

    Just back from the Post Office; they were confused but helpful.

    They thought it was probably because I didn’t include the other two pages that Click’n’Ship had generated (I’m only shipping documents in a priority mail envelope). I’d printed them out again and took them with me so they put them in a pouch attached to the envelope, printed a new postage label so I wouldn’t have to pay again and put it back in the system. We’ll see what happens.

  54. Chase Doyel - May 12th, 2021 2:06 pm

    This was an email directly from Shippo, figured I would share. We’re going to resume our international shipping today.

    “I’m reaching out to provide an update regarding the USPS International shipments that have been returned.

    At the moment, this is still an ongoing investigation as to how we can resolve this issue. Our internal team is currently working as quickly as possible with USPS and engineering to dispute the charges on any failed labels.

    It appears that these packages were impacted by an issue within the USPS system, where some critical information was left off of the shipping label and packages were unable to get through customs. Unfortunately, this bug affected the majority of international shipments through the month of May.

    As I understand it, the issue has now been resolved on USPS’ end — this should not be an issue with any international shipments going forward — and we are currently working with their team to understand if these labels can be refunded due to their error.

    I will reach back out to you once I receive any further updates on this issue. Once again, I apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience as our team works quickly to provide a resolution. “

  55. Brett - May 12th, 2021 2:23 pm

    Same issue exactly as stated repeatedly here. Shippo used, Priority Mail International service, LED components labelled as such with proper tariff codes, using the consolidated USPS shipping label PS 2976-A with the CP-72 customs dec.

    Mailed on 4/26, stopped and returned by San Francisco customs clearing on 5/11. $80 of postage gone. I mail to 40 countries using these same forms, shippers and products, never had this issue. Have over $500 of intl postage in the system at the moment using these forms, and several are severely delayed. Fearing that they will be landing back at the store soon.

  56. Steve - May 12th, 2021 2:25 pm

    Thanks Chase! But does that explanation make sense to you? I don’t really understand it. Based on replies to the survey here, this problem affects postage printed by multiple services including USPS’s own Click n Ship, so it doesn’t really sound like a “label was printed wrong” problem. I’ve scrutinized the label and compared it to an older label, and I don’t see anything that’s left off the labels that were rejected.

  57. Chase Doyel - May 12th, 2021 2:49 pm

    Hi Steve, I do think the information is a little confusing. Sounds like it’s an internal USPS problem, but then makes a comment about not enough information on the label, and then it’s a bug?

    I’m at the point that I’m looking for any excuse to open back up our international shipping. May not be the complete solution we were all looking for, but it’s enough for me to continue selling international, now with even more detailed descriptions of the contents. Fingers crossed things return to normal. Only time will tell.

  58. Amy - May 12th, 2021 4:34 pm

    Maybe this is what they mean – due to a bug in the USPS system, it left out / didn’t successfully enter certain required information as it scans the label, not because the info wasn’t on the label to begin with. That’s why it should be and has been resolved “on USPS’ end”.

  59. Tim - May 12th, 2021 4:59 pm

    I have been sending care packages to my son at Uni in New Zealand on a monthly basis with zero issues. Typically it’s things like a pair of shoes, a jacket and jeans, or during warmer months I’ll send him shorts & his sandals, etc. This month I sent a pair of new Nikes, two pairs of his jeans, some used books & one of his favorite flannel shirts. The only new thing was the jeans. I filled out the customs forms no different than any other time. But sure enough the package was returned today with the same sticker as pictured above and the “missing” box checked. Is it worth going into my local post office? My mail man said he’s all of a sudden regularly seeing these types of internation return to sender packages. He said he has no idea why. But it is definitely interesting that he is even noticing it. He said it was an occasional thing on his route. Like every couple weeks before. But now it’s multiple packages a day he’s seeing like this. FYI.. we’re in Portland, OR and it is also the San Fran Customs route this is happening through.

  60. Katharine Hanson - May 12th, 2021 6:31 pm

    Hi, I’m a USPS employee. We received several packages back with the exact same issue on Monday morning (I haven’t worked mornings since to know if there have been more.) We are just as clueless as you are but I know customers will be asking (one stopped in today) and so I am following so I know what to tell customers. (Isn’t that sad? Wish I knew something.)

    The only common denominator I noticed is that they were processed online, not through a post office, so there was no handwritten customs form with a handwritten signature; I haven’t seen any processed by us get returned. But I also know people have been doing these online for a long time with no issue, so there shouldn’t be this much of an issue.

  61. Mike Cadoo - May 12th, 2021 6:41 pm

    That’s a great theory Katharine, especially due to the photo above but all of our returned parcels have had handwritten signatures and dates.

  62. Ciaran - May 12th, 2021 6:48 pm

    My guess would be that something is getting lost in some computer system that forwards the label info from USPS to the Customs Inspectors

  63. Chase Doyel - May 12th, 2021 6:52 pm

    I’m no lawyer, but doesn’t this seem like a class action lawsuit situation? Who’s going to be held responsible for this, especially if we have to pay for new labels, not to mention the lost sales from cutting off international orders… Seems like USPS has a big problem on their hands

  64. Tim - May 12th, 2021 7:06 pm

    Thank you Katharine. That’s a good point regarding online origination. I created my shipment online as well. However I didn’t do anything different than all previous times and I always have my son ask the post office staff to confirm that all looks good when he drops it off. I have ALS so it is difficult for me to go into the actual post office, but I can if needed. Is this something I can either get a refund for, or will I be able to have a new label made at the post office for no additional charge? It was an $89.00 cost the first time around and I would like to avoid having to pay for it again…. especially if unsure whether it will go through. Thanks to everyone for sharing. It is super helpful to see others experience and ideas. PS- My mailman is a rock star & the folks at my local post office are really great whenever I’ve dealt with them.

  65. Katharine Hanson - May 12th, 2021 7:12 pm

    Hi Tim, we have no way of giving you a refund or creating a new label. However, you definitely shouldn’t have to pay to ship it again if it was a USPS issue. I am hoping that, as someone said above, it was an issue with our system that has been resolved, and that you can just put your package back in the mail as-is and it goes through. Maybe just remove the sticker and send it off again. It shouldn’t hurt anything to try. I’ll be watching here for updates to see if that has worked for anyone.

  66. Steve - May 12th, 2021 7:24 pm

    My bet is with Ciaran – I suspect what’s “missing” is some piece of digital data that was supposed to get transmitted when you buy the postage, rather than anything actually printed on the label.

    I’m not sure about re-shipping a returned package by just putting it back into the outgoing mail. I tried that last Friday with one of my returned packages, following the suggestion of my local post office staff. But the tracking info still just shows that it was delivered (returned to me) on May 7, with nothing more since then. I hope it shows up again somewhere.

  67. TJ - May 12th, 2021 7:51 pm

    Not a helpful contribution necessarily, but just had the same issue sending pottery from US to Canada (no issues prior, same value, details, customs info, etc) both shipped around May 5 out of Portland OR and rejected by ICS San Francisco.

    The only additional info my export compliance label had was the number 26 written in sharpie (different pen than used to mark “missing”).

    I’m not sure if this number has anything to do with the reason, I couldn’t find any information about it. As others have noted the web address on the compliance label goes to nowhere.

    That could have been a shorthand by a postal worker when sorting the day’s delivery and have nothing to do with the customs but maybe its a clue that someone smarter than me can dissect…

    ps: Steve, filled out your survey!

  68. Mike - May 12th, 2021 8:26 pm

    I resent two of my packages yesterday with the original labels and just hand-wrote some extra content details. This is the tracking history for one of them w/zip code removed. Both packages have a note about being in transit to the destination, but also have another ‘return to sender’ comment. I tend to not trust the tracking notes, but hope it actually left the US as the latest one seems to indicate.

    May 12, 2021, 3:07 pm
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    Your item departed our USPS facility in SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER on
    May 12, 2021 at 3:07 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    May 12, 2021, 8:46 am
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 12, 2021, 4:29 am
    Customs Clearance
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

    May 8, 2021, 7:38 am
    Arrived at Post Office
    SAN JOSE, CA

    May 7, 2021
    In Transit to Next Facility

    May 5, 2021, 4:21 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 5, 2021, 3:06 am
    Accepted at USPS Origin Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA

  69. Mike - May 12th, 2021 8:28 pm

    My other package shows two return to senders, but that could just be an oddity in the system. Both packages were delivered back to me on the 10th and shipped back out on the 11th.

    May 12, 2021, 3:07 pm
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    Your item departed our USPS facility in SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER on
    May 12, 2021 at 3:07 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    May 12, 2021, 8:46 am
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 10, 2021, 6:51 am
    Arrived at Post Office
    SAN JOSE, CA 95125

    May 8, 2021, 8:43 am
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 7, 2021
    In Transit to Next Facility

    May 4, 2021, 6:17 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 4, 2021, 6:17 am
    Customs Clearance
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

    May 4, 2021, 5:02 am
    Accepted at USPS Origin Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA 95126

    May 4, 2021
    Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS

  70. John - May 12th, 2021 8:58 pm

    I sent a flat rate Priority Mail International envelope on April 27, 2021. It got held up at customs for 11 days then returned to sender. Just got the mail today May 12, 2021. It says “Returned Due To Export Compliance Missing”. Purchased postage through usps.com Click-N-Ship.

    May 12, 2021, 3:46 pm
    Delivered, Left with Individual
    SAN JOSE, CA 95148
    Your item was delivered to an individual at the address at 3:46 pm on May 12, 2021 in SAN JOSE, CA 95148.

    May 12, 2021, 6:45 am
    Arrived at Post Office
    SAN JOSE, CA 95121

    May 12, 2021, 6:21 am
    Arrived at USPS Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA 95121

    May 12, 2021, 6:04 am
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    SAN JOSE CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 12, 2021, 4:02 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN JOSE CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 12, 2021, 2:57 am
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 11, 2021, 2:37 pm
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 10, 2021, 10:09 pm
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    April 29, 2021, 9:18 am
    Customs Clearance
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

    April 28, 2021
    Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item

  71. Steve A - May 13th, 2021 6:39 am

    Same issue here with international shipments to Canada and Europe. All labels bought on USPS.com, not on Shippo. All were rejected at the SF processing center and marked “missing” but giving no indication of what was missing. Very frustrating and expensive.

  72. Steve A - May 13th, 2021 6:43 am

    Mike, looks to me like your re-sent packages are being returned to you again, but hope I’m wrong. Could you update us on what happens, I’ve got a stack of these things I have to get delivered to paying customers. Thanks

  73. Steve - May 13th, 2021 7:06 am

    Is everybody seeing San Francisco IDC as the location where their packages were flagged for return? Or has anyone seen a different city’s international distribution center also do this? I wonder if it’s a problem specific to SF’s center. All of my packages went through the SF center and were marked for return there. It looks like there are also IDCs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York.

  74. Charlotte (Not May) - May 13th, 2021 8:05 am

    I am here because of the reason of all those posting. I too have the parcels returned from San Francisco. I too have received the information that there is no information from USPS, ShipStation, and Stamps.com (Endicia)… I too am very grateful for this post to at least know that I am not alone in this…

    P.S. just wondering if the May family has an unusual amount of online entrepreneurs ?? Almost every other comment toward the end of these is a May. Steve May, Steve A. May, John May, Tim May, TJ May, Mike May, Amy May, Brett May, Ciaran May… You could say… A MAY zing!! 🙂

  75. Chase Doyel - May 13th, 2021 8:16 am

    Small side note, all our international orders (50+) processed after 5/7 have made it through customs in San Fran. Each order was scanned 7-9 times in San Fran before they cleared. I think there was a week long issue with the San Fran distribution center, but maybe its been sorted?

    Now the issue is what to do with (150+) orders that were returned us? Reship with same label? We shipped about 30 of these and so far with the same label they’re not showing any signs movement. Not sure I want to push out another group unless I know this is working.

  76. Chase Doyel - May 13th, 2021 8:18 am

    Also, May is the month not last name 🙂

  77. Charlotte (Not May) - May 13th, 2021 8:19 am

    HAHAHAHAHAHA I am such a dork. 😀

  78. Adam - May 13th, 2021 8:35 am

    I asked in the USPS employees section of Reddit and got this reply

    https://www.reddit.com/r/USPS/comments/nbj5lr/can_anyone_explain_why_these_packages_were_sent/

  79. Colin - May 13th, 2021 9:34 am

    Spoke to Shippo support live chat just to see if they had any updates, and got a response similar to Chase’s e-mail (USPS bug, fixed now, chasing up refunds). They also noted that they’d flagged my tracking number for review with USPS/refund, so it sounds like they may not actively be searching for packages that were hit, so if anyone hasn’t already pinged support you might want to do so to make sure they know you were hit by this problem.

  80. Chris Torrence - May 13th, 2021 9:34 am

    Same problem here with one of our shipments of a computer game to Spain. We’ve sent out hundreds of packages with the exact same labels & HS tariff number, with a detailed description. We ship through PirateShip. The returned package went thru that IDC center in SF.

    I’m really curious if you can just reprint the labels and reuse them. Has anyone had success yet?

  81. Cherie - May 13th, 2021 9:35 am

    I got 10 packages back. I use shippo. Some going to Canada and the UK. I ship dog chew toys and dog tugs. I was told by my local post office to sign with a wet signature and resend. I have never had to put a tariff number and that has never been a problem. I am so screwed.

  82. Sam - May 13th, 2021 9:47 am

    Does anyone know if this is just a USPS facility thing? If we ship via FEDEX or UPS we shouldn’t have any problems right?

  83. Steve - May 13th, 2021 11:51 am

    I just received a similar email from Shippo: “It looks like this may have been a bug on USPS’s side of things. We are working with engineering and USPS to dispute the charges on any failed labels. We’ll update you as soon as we have more information. We are treating this as a high priority!”

    Yes it seems to be just a USPS thing, and FedEx / UPS are unaffected.

  84. Alexander Gee - May 13th, 2021 12:33 pm

    Seems like this issue deserves some attention. Someone here must know a journalist who would like an easy story?

  85. Brett - May 13th, 2021 1:27 pm

    Refund of returned label via Shippo refused by USPS.

    As posited earlier, I suspect it has to do with a glitch in the USPS’s “Global Shipping Service Software”. From the USPS site(https://bit.ly/33Go7Lt):

    “123.32 Required Electronic Transmission of Customs Declaration Information
    For an item bearing a privately printed customs form under 123.31, a mailer must electronically transmit customs declaration information by using USPS-produced Global Shipping Software (GSS), Shipping Services File 1.7 or higher, or other USPS-approved software. Failure to provide electronically transmitted customs declaration information before tendering the mailing may result in refusal at acceptance, delay in processing, and/or return of mail to the sender.”

  86. Steve - May 13th, 2021 1:36 pm

    That explanation sounds pretty plausible to me. But whose screw-up is this? It’s not just affecting Shippo – lots of web-based postage services including Pirate Ship and USPS themselves are having the same problem. For people who bought postage through USPS Click n Ship, who else can they possibly blame?

    Assuming this explanation is correct, then it probably means attempting to re-ship the package using the original postage label will not work.

  87. Ciaran - May 13th, 2021 1:36 pm

    Is anyone who’s resubmitted with the same label able to get tracking info?
    The PO counter staff told me it would have the same tracking number, and I watched them scan it to accept it, but online it still just shows “delivered” (back to me)

  88. Steve - May 13th, 2021 1:38 pm

    Ciaran- I have the exact same experience with my resubmitted package. It’s disappeared into a black hole. Tracking info shows nothing beyond the original return to sender.

  89. Santi - May 13th, 2021 4:48 pm

    Thanks Ciaran and Steve,

    I can confirm that according to our records (we have used shipstation and USPS Click-n-Ship) the glitch happened for any package of ours that reached the ISC SAN FRANCISCO from April 30th to May 7th (after that the same type of package, without any change on our part started going through)

    I really look forward to further news about resubmitting the package with the same label, it does seem like the best solution if successful, as you may know, inquires into refunds with USPS are quite a nightmare…

  90. TJ - May 13th, 2021 9:08 pm

    Wanted to provide an update today…. Shippo confirmed the USPS bug causing the issue and then later in the day replied again saying that USPS claims it is resolved and should not be a problem. However they said they DO NOT recommend sending the package out with the same label but will require a new label. They are chasing refunds as others have said, but if you have not alerted them that your package was affected I recommend reaching out!

    I’m going to wait a day or two before I try again just in case…

    Good luck to everyone!

  91. Mike - May 14th, 2021 7:09 am

    So, it looks like my two ‘resent’ packages are being returned. So, my recommendation is unfortunately new labels for myself and everyone else. These were first class priority international (which I use on a regular basis). I’m frustrated as heck and will probably have to eat the shipping cost on these for now. I’ve held up all other international shipments for the time being and will have to find a way to go back on usps for this. It’s $40 in shipping, and my time is much better spent doing other things than arguing with them, but I do not believe I am responsible for this issue.

    May 14, 2021, 4:02 am
    Arrived at Post Office
    SAN JOSE, CA 95125
    Your item arrived at the Post Office at 4:02 am on May 14, 2021 in SAN JOSE, CA 95125.

    May 14, 2021, 3:34 am
    Arrived at USPS Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA 95125

    May 13, 2021
    In Transit to Next Facility

    May 12, 2021, 11:43 pm
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN JOSE CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 12, 2021, 9:14 pm
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 12, 2021, 8:46 pm
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 12, 2021, 8:46 am
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 12, 2021, 4:29 am
    Customs Clearance
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

  92. Doug - May 14th, 2021 7:12 am

    I used USPS click and ship to ship a 10lb box to Italy to my daughter. It shipped on 4/28 and I got it back on 5/10 with the same sticker as everyone else. Mine was stopped in San Fran like everyone else too. I have shipped multiple times to her over the last couple years with no issue here in the US…all the issues seem to have been with the Italian Post which is another whole mess of crud I (and she) have had to deal with. I’ve tried DHL several months ago thinking they could more easily get things through Italian customs, but they were completely incompetent too. I mean, we can buzz a helicopter around Mars but we can’t come up with a easy and reliable way to ship internationally?!

    I have processed another click and ship, but may hold off for a day or two before I send. Anyone have a link to where I can claim the $87 in postage for my first returned attempt?

  93. Steve - May 14th, 2021 8:24 am

    I would suggest waiting a while before requesting any USPS postage refunds. Right now the only evidence we seem to have that this is USPS’s fault is private emails from Shippo support to a couple of their customers. I haven’t seen anything about it from other postage providers, or any public statements from USPS or anyone else. I like Shippo but I’ve seen them be completely wrong multiple times before about important postage issues, and point blame elsewhere for a few days before eventually admitting it was their fault. So while they’re probably right about this, I’m not convinced the mystery is completely solved yet.

  94. Tim - May 14th, 2021 8:29 am

    This is not a Shippo issue. Too many of us are dealing with the exact same problem and don’t use Shippo at all. I went direct with USPS and sent exactly the same as I have for the last couple years.

  95. Steve - May 14th, 2021 8:38 am

    I agree it’s not a Shippo-specific issue, but for me that doesn’t yet prove it’s a USPS issue. For example, it could be something where US Export Control changed their electronic data submission requirements, and several different postage providers handled the change incorrectly, including USPS’s own Click n Ship. It’s just a theory, but if that were true, then only the people who shipped through Click n Ship would have grounds to seek a refund from USPS.

  96. Lotte - May 14th, 2021 8:36 am

    We use Shipstation and Stamps.com (Endicia). We had never heard of Shippo until this thread.

    When we contacted Shipstation, they had not heard of this issue at all. They told us to reach out to Stamps.com. Today, Stamps.com told us it was ShipStation’s problem and to reach out to them.

    Clearly there are too many of us experiencing the exact same issue. We seem to all have different shipping platforms/postage sources.

    The only consistent in this is USPS and the San Francisco International distribution center.

  97. Brett - May 14th, 2021 8:40 am

    Steve I have to disagree – put in for the refund now and challenge the rejection. As you yourself stated earlier:

    “It’s not just affecting Shippo – lots of web-based postage services including Pirate Ship and USPS themselves are having the same problem. For people who bought postage through USPS Click n Ship, who else can they possibly blame?”

    This is clearly an issue with the USPS’ customs clearing center in SF. And the USPS’ issue to make good for its affected customers.

    I’m beginning to think the suggestions to call the news media and your congressional reps are our best options, in addition to pursuing refunds via your shipping service vendors, are our best bets. There could be literally thousands of affected people and businesses, and millions of dollars in dispute, even if the glitch only lasted a couple of weeks.

  98. Steve - May 14th, 2021 8:43 am

    Brett you are probably right. I’m still going to hold off for a little while longer, but that’s just me. I agree some media attention on this issue would be welcome.

  99. Doug - May 14th, 2021 8:48 am

    It appears refund requests for international shipments have to be done in person at a Post Office. I’ll head down there on Monday when I drop off the “re-shipment” and see what hoops I have to jump through.

  100. Mike - May 14th, 2021 8:49 am

    Someone who has a major stake in this should alert a news station/newspaper or something like 7 on your side. https://abc7news.com/business/contact-7-on-your-side/47207/

  101. John - May 14th, 2021 9:45 am

    I had two packages returned “due to Export Compliance” Both said something was “missing” without saying WHAT was missing. One package was intended for India, the other for Germany. I didn’t do anything different on the Customs Declarations than I’d ever done before and never had this problem before. Postal charges on one were $81.50, on the other $105.15 I asked the Post Office in person and by phone, but got no help whatsoever. I wasted 40 minutes on the phone trying to resolve this.

  102. Cody Burch - May 14th, 2021 10:04 am

    I am glad I found this post.

    We are having the same issue. we have been shipping internationally using usps since 1993. We have 22 packages coming back for the same thing, labels just say “missing”. Local post office was no help, usps custom service was no help. We are at a loss.

  103. John - May 14th, 2021 1:14 pm

    I tried to get refunds for both packages and was denied.

  104. Mike Cadoo - May 14th, 2021 1:19 pm

    Same issue here. refunds for the labels have been denied.

  105. Brett - May 14th, 2021 1:27 pm

    Shippo is collecting claims from customers who experienced this issue and is appealing the refund denials with USPS. If you have had an arbitrary return of an international USPS shipment in the past 30 days and were denied a refund of the label then contact them at the link on their Customer Service/FAQ page and explain the shipments were through the USPS’ San Francisco ISC, include tracking #s, label pdfs, and returned package via attachment to your message.

    I believe I have a second package in clearing limbo for 34 days now, shipped with a Paypal label. Anyone dealing with Paypal on this?

  106. Tim - May 14th, 2021 1:31 pm

    $90.00 loss for me for 1 package. It’s a bummer but for me most of all I just eant to be able to reliably send my son packages in NZ. I guess I’ll go with another channel than USPS. I feel really bad for the folks that have had a large quantity of packages returned. If there needs to be a class action or anything to make this right I am happy to support such an effort.

  107. Cody Burch - May 14th, 2021 1:36 pm

    just a quick update.

    Another 4 packages returned today. Brings the total up to 26 returned packages, and 26 pissed off customers who want their product.

    Still no answer from anyone from USPS. Our local post master said they did a big update about a month and a half ago on their programs. Wonder if this has anything to do with it?

    We were instructed not to ship anything until we hear back.

    No word if we can reuse the labels already printed, or if new ones will have to be made. We were also told we may not be getting refunds if we have to make new labels. We are out over $1,000 if this is true.

  108. Stephan - May 14th, 2021 1:48 pm

    I sent a package to Japan on May 7, same thing, it came back yesterday, rejected at SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER. “Returned due to export compliance missing”, I was just shipping some gifts, no commercial stuff.

    I went to two postal offices, they were clueless. Tried to call USPS and gave up…

    I am going to wait a week and watch the posts here. If that doesn’t clear up, then I am using UPS or DHL. Why is there nothing about this on the official USPS website????

    Thank you for this blog!!!!

  109. Laurel - May 14th, 2021 2:08 pm

    I’m also having this same issue and this blog has been a life saver! Thank you to all that have done the hard work of calling and inquiring, it sucks that it hasn’t gotten too far! I saw the comments here saying Shippo said that the glitch is fixed with USPS so I went ahead and shipped two new international orders today to test it. I will come back here and let you all know if they don’t get rejected and if the bug is indeed fixed. Also for reference, I sell vintage clothing on Etsy which generates its own labels through USPS and also Depop which goes through PayPal. I’ve had only three packages returned to me that went to San Francisco ISC, I am SO sorry for all that are out much more than that. I’ll update what happens here!

  110. Mike Farrace - May 14th, 2021 2:11 pm

    Same thing happened to me today. I purchased a shipping label on PayPal on May 6. Package was returned today with the “missing” export compliance sticker with no explanation. The package and contents were virtually identical to hundreds of shipments just like it over many years.

    I explored the uspis.gov site they recommend but the headings and links it refers to don’t exist. It’s mainly to report criminal behavior.

  111. Mike - May 14th, 2021 2:53 pm

    Well, my two packages that I resent with the same label and more of a description came back. I’m going to test sending one of them with a new label today.

  112. Mike - May 14th, 2021 3:09 pm

    Also, going through this process, my memory recalls that the USPS click n ship site appears to have gone through a revamp/update around the time of these shipment issues started. I wonder if there is a correlation there.

  113. Jimmy - May 14th, 2021 3:59 pm

    I have a very similar issue, shipping a USPS package to Taiwan, used USPS.com’s Click and Ship service, printed off the 3 sheets and put them in a ziploc bag then taped it to the box. It was returned to me from San Francisco with a sticker outside the box “Returned due to export compliance: Missing”, nothing else inside the box, infact the box was not even opened or inspected.

    I brought it down to my local post office and had them take a look; they said the USPS website customs form (CP 72-Customs Declaration) is OUTDATED AND NO LONGER IN USE. They had me fill out a new form at the office, PS Form 2976-R, but then stopped because they wanted to see if they can use the old/returned label which I had already paid for, this time with the new customs forms attached. Their supervisor advised me to call the number on the back of the customs form (1-800-222-1811) to request a refund for the already paid label. I called them, and they said they can’t do no refunds over the phone, but they will initiate an investigation into why this was returned to me.

    So…I have no idea what is going on. Guess I’ll wait the 24-48hrs to hear back from them on why this was returned. I had shipped another package to Taiwan back in March, same recipient, same addresses, same shipping method, and that one went through without any issue. I was VERY specific with the item names, value, and weight in the package. Nothing hazardous, nothing prohibited.

  114. RG - May 14th, 2021 4:02 pm

    Shouldn’t there be an USPS ombudsman who we can all reach out to help here but nothing else will work going to individual post offices or call centers as they will all reject saying “you didn’t put something correctly” and hence packages were returned and USPS is not responsible for refund of the labels and looks like processing the same labels doesn’t go through based on below note.

  115. Jimmy - May 14th, 2021 4:05 pm

    The oddest thing is, I had also shipped a package to Taiwan back in mid-March, same recipient, same addresses, same services. That one went through totally fine after I dropped it off at the post office. This time, I had also dropped it off at the post office on 4/29, they scanned and accepted it, but then was rejected in San Francisco (see my post above). It is VERY odd that the USPS’s own website’s forms are, apparently, NO LONGER IN USE and we MUST handwrite a form for EACH international USPS package…I ended up shipping that package via UPS through my work instead >.<

  116. RG - May 14th, 2021 4:06 pm

    I looked for USPS ombudsman and only found out OIG for USPS who doesn’t deal with this sort of issue and recommend going to local Consumers affairs office . I found this website while researching this but haven’t tried submitting my request yet.
    https://www.usps.com/help/international-claims.htm

  117. Steve - May 14th, 2021 4:52 pm

    I don’t know of an ombudsman, but try the USPS office of consumer affairs. Call 971-201-3700 and leave a message. A comment here from Chase Doyel on May 12 said they called him back, and confirmed that lots of people have this same exact issue, and it’s very strange, but basically there’s nothing they can really do about it. Maybe if enough of us call and report the same “Export Control – Missing” problem, it will eventually get the attention of somebody who can help.

  118. Mike Cadoo - May 14th, 2021 4:43 pm

    I tracked a parcel going to France that left here on the 13th. It cleared customs in ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS) today and tracking says it is on its way to its destination. There was no difference in the shipping label on that package than the ones sent on the 10th that were returned today. I think this has been rectified. Some advice that echoes some of those above. You should put a new label on the package and request a refund for the previous label from who you ship through (usps, paypal shippo, etc). I hope this nightmare is over.

  119. Arazi Pinhas - May 14th, 2021 5:35 pm

    With all the comments, it is hard to digest everything. A experienced a similar return message (“returned due to export compliance: missing”), bought the label through Shippo. My package was returned to me today.

    Can anyone, in concise language, explain what that message truly means? Could someone clear the air about the whole situation?

  120. Doug - May 14th, 2021 5:40 pm

    No, it is too early. All this is speculation, but the main facts are: 1. All items were shipped via USPS in some manner (directly or via Shippo or others), 2. All were international and were processed via the San Fran International USPS export hub, 3. so far there is nothing concrete as to why this has happened, and it seems to have impacted shipmenets that have been successful just a few days/weeks prior to late April.

  121. Steve - May 15th, 2021 6:50 am

    Good news: All four of the new shipments I made on May 11 have now cleared US Export Control. It looks like this problem is now resolved. Whatever was broken seems to have been fixed sometime around May 10.

    These were shipped with new postage labels – two from Shippo, one from PayPal, one from USPS Click n Ship. The packages were identical to the ones that were earlier returned to sender, except for having better item descriptions. But based on the comments here from others, I’m not sure the item descriptions were ever the problem.

    I’m mad about losing hundreds of dollars in postage, creating dozens of unhappy customers, plus a week of my time wasted running around trying to get answers about this from an inscrutable bureaucracy.

    And maybe it doesn’t really matter, but the engineer in me really wants to know exactly what the problem was.

  122. Lotte - May 15th, 2021 6:56 am

    We are hopeful that our parcels as of May 11th are also moving through the system properly. They show that they are at San Francisco now.

    Side note: our parcels dated May 10th are on their way back to us.

  123. Doug - May 15th, 2021 7:52 am

    Great news, I will send mine out Monday amd report back if successful too. Thanks Steve, appreciate you setting up this site.

  124. Steve - May 15th, 2021 7:55 am

    I’m trying to determine exactly when the problem was fixed, if it is truly fixed, because the experiences that people have reported here aren’t entirely consistent. Some are saying that everything shipped after May 7 is OK, but others are reporting returned packages that were shipped as late as May 10, or processed by San Francisco IDC as late as May 11.

    Brett: Mailed on 4/26, stopped and returned by San Francisco customs clearing on 5/11.

    Chase Doyel: all our international orders (50+) processed after 5/7 have made it through customs in San Fran.

    Santi: the glitch happened for any package of ours that reached the ISC SAN FRANCISCO from April 30th to May 7th (after that the same type of package, without any change on our part started going through)

    Stephan: I sent a package to Japan on May 7, same thing, it came back yesterday, rejected at SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    Mike Cadoo: I tracked a parcel going to France that left here on the 13th. It cleared customs in ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS) today and tracking says it is on its way to its destination. There was no difference in the shipping label on that package than the ones sent on the 10th that were returned today.

    Me: All four of the new shipments I made on May 11 have now cleared US Export Control.

    Lotte: We are hopeful that our parcels as of May 11th are also moving through the system properly. They show that they are at San Francisco now. Our parcels dated May 10th are on their way back to us.

  125. vincent - May 15th, 2021 8:30 am

    Same sitation here. Sent parcel, came back with that same sticker. Resent it, now it’s coming back again. Used usps click & ship. flippin’ sucks!!!

  126. Mike - May 15th, 2021 9:41 am

    Since my package mailed (with original USPS click and ship label came back the second time), I stripped the old label off and generated a new one in the same fashion yesterday. It appears to have made it through SF at this point in time, based on the tracking this morning. This would suggest the issue was in the back end somewhere with information transmitted from USPS to customs that was the issue.

    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    Your item arrived at our USPS facility in SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER on May 15, 2021 at 10:10 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 8:55 am
    Accepted at USPS Origin Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA

    May 15, 2021
    Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS

  127. Steve - May 15th, 2021 9:52 am

    Mike – I’m no expert about this, but I think that only shows your package is now at the San Francisco IDC. I don’t think a package has successfully passed through export control until it shows “Departed” or “Processed Through Regional Facility” from SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER.

  128. Mike Cadoo - May 15th, 2021 10:18 am

    hey Steve, I checked today and It says:

    Your item departed our USPS facility in SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER on May 15, 2021 at 7:07 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    The others have said: Return to Sender

    So I am optimistic.

  129. Colin - May 15th, 2021 10:25 am

    Just to add to the others, shipped two packages internationally this week:

    12th May (returned, but new label and package, so exactly the same as the one below): “Your item was processed through our SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER facility” on 15th May
    13th May (new order): “departed a transfer airport in INTERNATIONAL, SAN FRANCISCO” on 15th May

    There’s another international one to go out today but it looks like they are going through, though with the usual random delays that seem to occur between San Jose and San Francisco.

  130. Steve - May 15th, 2021 10:35 am

    Colin – You purchased postage and shipped the package on May 12, but it was returned to sender? If so, that’s the latest date I’ve heard of anyone experiencing this problem. Others are reporting the problem resolved itself somewhere between May 7 to 11.

  131. Colin - May 15th, 2021 10:40 am

    Oh no, to clarify, the 12th May one originally shipped out on the 6th May, but was returned to sender. I scrapped the entire box as it was a little scabby from having been through the system, so it looked ‘new’ again. It was also a completely new label for 12th May with updated description/etc., but it didn’t move for 3 days, so I was getting worried (especially since the package from the 13th was already moving). I’m cautiously optimistic it’s just being slow, though.

  132. RG - May 15th, 2021 3:13 pm

    Here’s my tracking…it initially shows as if it cleared customs and on its way to next destination but a day later updated to Return to Sender. So it would be good to confirm the first package which really makes the destination.

    May 10, 2021
    1:50 pm
    Return to Sender,
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 9, 2021
    In Transit to Next Facility,

    May 8, 2021
    3:36 am
    Departed USPS Regional Facility,
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 8, 2021
    3:36 am
    Customs Clearance,
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

    May 7, 2021
    10:26 pm
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility,
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

  133. Susanna - May 15th, 2021 3:36 pm

    Thanks for everyone’s input here. I’ve got three packages in my mailbox now with the same ’missing’ customs label on them that’s been described here – no details as to what is ’missing’ and as far as I know, nothing is. The latest arrived today (Shipped May 6th, returned May 16th). As others have noted, my labels are exactly the same as dozens of others I’ve mailed over the last few years – the only thing that’s changed is that they’re suddenly being returned to me and costing me time, annoyed/anxious customers and money. I use PirateShip for international but send USPS first class usually and have never had this issue before this month.I really hope this has been resolved by the SF office!

  134. Tyler - May 15th, 2021 7:52 pm

    I’ll just add my frustration here as well. Shipped 2 used iphones to my sister-in-law that lives in Japan on 4/27, I got the package back on 5/13 with the same ‘Missing’ box checked, nothing else. Postage purchased through USPS click-n-ship. I guess I’ll give it another go, but if the USPS isn’t going to own up and offer refunds, I may just go through my credit card and dispute the charges. This really sucks for everyone that has lost so much money, time, and possible customers because of this.

  135. RG - May 15th, 2021 10:25 pm

    Good point and I actually had the same thought and so I went ahead and started disputing the charge via the credit card route because there is no way individually we can fight this against the USPS. I will let the Credit Card company argue this based on the fact that the service (shipping package) offered was not actually provided. It may very well be rejected but atleast a try. I am not putting another new label through USPS as I am an occasional shipper for personal reasons (first in so many years to be get caught up in this issue) and so going to incur few additional dollars and get it through UPS/Fedex.

  136. Matt - May 16th, 2021 1:40 am

    Yep, same problems here. I printed my label through PayPal on May 10th, shipped to Slovakia, it hit the SF post office, and came right back. I checked out the site they recommend to check, and it’s zero help. I’ve shipped hundreds of packages overseas the past several years and never had an issue. I highly doubt it has anything to do anything other than the USPS being clods. Their technology is always woefully out of date. And they can’t “reject” refunds for long, this is already a lawsuit in the making.

  137. Lotte - May 16th, 2021 6:06 am

    Interesting, as it is appears it may be very difficult to get refunds — think of how much money USPS is potentially making off this one glitch.

  138. Andy - May 16th, 2021 6:53 am

    My us to china freight forwarder don’t accept any electronic devices since last week.

  139. Anonymous - May 16th, 2021 6:54 am

    has anyone tried to re-use the same label? they aren’t voided, wonder if they would get through customs.

  140. Sean H - May 16th, 2021 7:18 am

    Here to confirm what everyone else has been finding. 17 pound package sent via click and ship on May 4, 2021 to Japan, and was returned from the San Francisco facility due to “missing” export compliance. My descriptions were vague (probably a 1 on the scale of 1 to 5), but I’ve been shipping packages with vague descriptions for years, including two to Japan just a few months ago via click and ship. I really hope I am able to get a refund or reship using existing postage as this was a $123 package and I feel like this is USPS fault through some error. Thanks.

  141. Anonymouse - May 16th, 2021 7:32 am

    Adding my data as well… my package to Canada was rejected mid-day May 12. I’m nervous about re-sending and losing more $$$ on postage. I had used PayPal shipping.

    May 12, 2021,12:08 pm
    Return to Sender
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94128

    May 12, 2021,6:54 am
    Customs Clearance
    ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)

    May 11, 2021,8:16 pm
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 10, 2021,5:23 pm
    USPS picked up item

    May 10, 2021,11:02 am
    Shipping Label Created, USPS Awaiting Item

  142. BRUCE LIND - May 16th, 2021 8:07 am

    Same problem with shipment to Canada. Label vis Click & Ship on 4/30. Returned from SFO.
    Local USPS clerk could not figure out why it was rejected as everything was per instructions.
    Looked at USPS refund site and there was no way to describe the problem.
    Decided to follow a suggestion from this group.
    I just submitted a dispute with my credit card company.

  143. Doug - May 16th, 2021 8:35 am

    Good plan on disputing with the CC company.

  144. Mike - May 16th, 2021 8:42 am

    I realize the thread is getting big since many new people are finding it since they are searching for answers. In summary for me:

    – Two packages shipped May # & 4. Both returned on 5/10.
    – Post office recommended adding details and using same postage.
    – Re-shipped them on May 11 with same label (added details, and an invoice)
    – Both packages returned on May 15 with same issue
    – Elected to try one of the packages with a newly generated label (paid postage again). It’s current status is below. Seems like the package is at an airport, but it’s not clear if customs is there or before.

    I also noted yesterday that the USPS site had a big red banner talking about system upgrades this weekend. It appears to be gone now.

    May 16, 2021, 3:44 am
    Arrived
    SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES
    Your item arrived at an origin transfer airport in INTERNATIONAL, SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES on May 16, 2021 at 3:44 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    May 15, 2021, 10:43 am
    Processed Through Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 8:55 am
    Accepted at USPS Origin Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA 95126

    May 15, 2021
    Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS

  145. Matt - May 16th, 2021 10:25 am

    I’m sure this issue is more than likely corrected within the USPS network, but in my opinion the question isn’t why this happened at this point, the question is now when and how we get our money back. It’s absurd they take all this money and then “reject” refunds after they didn’t complete their end of the deal, and offer not info anywhere about it. I mean, really? This is a new low for a business that has already been a disaster for a long time as it is. Just a sad statement from USPS.

  146. Raphael - May 17th, 2021 12:56 am

    Hi,

    My shipment is LW227299133US, to be sent to France.
    What sould I do ?
    Will you try to send it back ?

    Don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you need,

    Regards

    Raphaël

  147. Steve - May 17th, 2021 6:21 am

    For BMOW customers whose shipments have been affected by this problem, I am holding your returned packages, and will be re-shipping them in the next few days once I’m confident all the USPS problems are resolved. When that happens, I will send an update with the new tracking number. Thanks for your patience!

  148. adam - May 17th, 2021 6:19 am

    Hi guys,

    One more info. My US to China freight forwarder has refused any electronic devices since 5.11

  149. Chase Doyel - May 17th, 2021 7:55 am

    Just a quick update. This is the new sticker we’re now seeing. Pretty self explanatory. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_VPO61dZVmau7zznvRglUQ-Uyt7IlX3L/view?usp=drivesdk

  150. Steve - May 17th, 2021 8:59 am

    Chase, are you still getting packages returned? That’s worrying. When were they mailed?

    Here’s an inlined version of the new sticker. Click to see the full-size image.

    It’s very interesting, as this is the first indication I’ve seen of USPS admitting the problem may have been their fault.

    My personal experience has not been successful with attempting to re-mail returned packages using the same postage label. I re-mailed a package 10 days ago, and the tracking info still doesn’t show that the post office received it, or anything else beyond the original return to sender. I fear that package and its contents are lost forever. Has anyone else been successful re-mailing using the original postage label?

  151. Anonymouse - May 17th, 2021 8:00 am

    Chase Doyel, I can’t access the Google drive link above… says I don’t have access. Can you post a photo of the new sticker, and more details about when the most recent rejection occurred in customs?

  152. Anonymouse - May 17th, 2021 9:22 am

    I can see the Google Drive image now – thank you!

    Still have the same question about the date of most recent rejections; and if anyone was able to successfully re-send with the same label. I’m planning to wait a few days and hope for more information to surface.

  153. Mike Cadoo - May 17th, 2021 9:25 am

    My experience was that the same label would just be returned. I had to make new labels for them to be accepted.

    all export parcels shipped on 5/13 currently say this in tracking:

    In Transit to Next Facility
    Your package is moving within the USPS network and is on track to be delivered to its final destination. It is currently in transit to the next facility.

  154. Laurel - May 17th, 2021 11:11 am

    I’m back with good news! I sent an international package this last Friday the 15th to Canada with a new label and it was successfully processed through ISC in San Francisco and made it all the way to its scan in Vancouver! Looks like this glitch is most likely fixed now. Hoping we can all file claims and get our money back for the wasted labels.

  155. Doug - May 17th, 2021 11:36 am

    That is good news! I just dropped off my newly labeled box that was returned a week ago. The postal employee was completely clueless as to how to get a refund on the original shipment and hadn’t heard about any of this so far. So I just filed a claim with Paypal for that.

    Hoping my new shipment will get thru SFO this time.

  156. Cody Burch - May 17th, 2021 1:52 pm

    Another quick update.

    Just spoke with our postman while he was picking up today’s mail.

    everything is now fixed, short answer was ”someone just messed up”.

    Post office WILL NOT refund postage, however we were told that if we brought all of our returned packages(with the return label left on) down to our local post office. they will fix it and resend at no charge.

    I am not sure if this will be everywhere, or if this is because we made our local post office aware of the situation.

    We were given the green light to continue to ship anything international and there shouldn’t be any issues going forward.

    Hopes this helps everyone.

    Big shutout to the original poster on this thread. We would all be a lost without finding this thread!

    keep on, shipping on, ladies and gentleman!

  157. Mike - May 18th, 2021 6:11 am

    Well, so far it looks the issue is fixed from my perspective, so I’m going to start re-sending the other packages I have in the queue. My newly labeled package processed through SFO, and then LAX.

    May 17, 2021, 10:53 pm
    Departed
    LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES
    Your item departed a transfer airport in INTERNATIONAL, LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES on May 17, 2021 at 10:53 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

    May 16, 2021, 10:59 am
    Departed
    SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES

    May 16, 2021, 3:44 am
    Arrived
    SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES

    May 15, 2021, 10:43 am
    Processed Through Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 10:10 am
    Arrived at Regional Facility
    SAN FRANCISCO CA INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER

    May 15, 2021, 8:55 am
    Accepted at USPS Origin Facility
    SAN JOSE, CA 95126

    May 15, 2021
    Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS

  158. vincent - May 18th, 2021 7:23 am

    So, after reading the other comments it’s still not clear to me; can I use the old label or do I have to make a completely new label and kick and scream to hopefully get a refund for the first label?

  159. Cody Burch - May 18th, 2021 7:24 am

    Vincent,

    per our local postmaster you can re-use the label. However, USPS has to “force” these packages through, and it must be done over the counter at your local PO.

  160. John - May 18th, 2021 9:38 am

    I just had another package (3 altogether) returned for supposed “Export Non Compliance” US Postal Service has been UTTERLY USELESS, they have NO EXPLANATION and are NO HELP and pass the buck to US Customs, which has ALSO been of NO HELP! We need to find out WHOSE FAULT this is because its not OURS! Its either the fault of USPS or US Customs or BOTH! We shouldn’t be HAVING this problem, and if it doesn’t STOP, a LOT of people will either stop shipping abroad entirely, or will STOP USING USPS!

    Channel 7 in San Francisco has a Consumer Advocate named Michael Finney who does stories on stuff like this to help people having this sort of problem. I hope a lot of people on here will encourage them to look into this and do a story on it. You can contact them via https://abc7news.com/business/contact-7-on-your-side/47207/

    Here is what I just posted on their form:

    Lots people shippers have been having the same problem, please see this website for details https://www.bigmessowires.com/2021/05/07/us-customs-export-control/#comment-236945

    I found a link to this form on that website. Someone suggested that maybe you could help us since its US Customs in San Francisco that is causing the problem. I have had 3 packages returned that I tried to ship abroad, but lots of other people have had far more returned, some have had 20 or more returned, and we’re not being told WHY!

    They send a sticker that says “RETURNED DUE TO EXPORT COMPLANCE” and a box is checked that says “MISSING” but they’re not saying WHAT was allegedly “missing”. This is negatively impacting a HUGE number of shippers! We can’t get postal refunds and no one can tell us WHAT is wrong!

    This will cause a lot of people to either STOP shipping abroad, or to STOP using the US Postal Service.

    When I’ve asked my local post office about this they say “We can’t respond to US Customs questions”, when I call USPS they have no answers either. Some have told me I must have attempted to ship a “prohibited” item, but that has NEVER been the case, not for me or for the other people having this same problem! You can see at https://www.bigmessowires.com/2021/05/07/us-customs-export-control/#comment-236945 that a LOT of people are being negatively impacted by this!

    Please let me know if theres anything you can do to help us all resolve this problem! Some shippers have been taken for thousands of dollars in postage fees that we can’t get refunds for. I wasn’t hit as hard as a lot of other people because I only had 3 packages returned, but lots of other people have had 20 or more returned. This is NOT RIGHT!!

    Whose FAULT is this? Is it the fault of US Customs, the US Postal Service, or BOTH?

    Its NOT the fault of people doing the shipping, we’re properly filling out Customs Declarations, but can’t get any answers as to WHAT is allegedly wrong!

    This is causing us all problems with customers! I am going to post what I’m sending you at https://www.bigmessowires.com/2021/05/07/us-customs-export-control/#comment-236945 to encourage more people having this problem to also contact you!

    John Hammell

  161. John - May 18th, 2021 9:57 am

    I just called US Customs in San Francisco at 1-415-782-9200 Left voice mails about this problem in two different voice mail boxes requesting a call back in an attempt to learn anything I can. I will let you know if I find out anything, or if I get a call back from Channel 7 which I’ve also contacted since I hope they’ll investigate on behalf of all of us! None of us should be having this problem! We need to get to the bottom of it to find out whose fault it is, is it the fault of US Customs, USPS, or BOTH of them? I am FED UP with USPS since they won’t refund my shipping and I am tired of dealing with angry customers when its not MY fault!

  162. vincent - May 19th, 2021 10:09 am

    Any Updates? Parcels definitely go through now? With old or new label? Refund on old label?

  163. Steve - May 19th, 2021 11:53 am

    My packages seem to be going through now, with new labels. It’s still hard to say for 100 percent certain, because many of them have been stalled for days going nowhere, but I think that’s normal for First Class Package International. I frequently saw long delays, even before this latest incident.

    One of my packages that was marked for return was never actually returned, but instead it was sent to Canada even though it’s addressed to the UK. I also have a package for Canada that’s currently in Italy for some reason, and a package for Switzerland that’s in Qatar. So it’s not exactly smooth sailing.

    I chose to buy new postage for all my affected packages, because I don’t trust reshipping with the old label after my one failed attempt trying it. I decided it’s not worth my time dealing with the post office staff in person to try fixing every package that was impacted. But if you only have a single returned package and its postage was very expensive, it might be worth your time.

  164. Rene - May 19th, 2021 10:43 am

    I am so glad I found this thread. We live in Northern California so our mail goes through San Francisco and we are having the same problem with our international mail. I wish I could offer some solid solutions, but I have none. I’ll keep watching this thread and post if I am able to get something mailed.

  165. Tyler - May 19th, 2021 10:56 am

    I just dropped of my package with the original label at the local post office, they were aware of the issue, but didn’t know much. They did resend my package with the original label with no question at all, and apologized for the problem. I was in and out in like 2 min. Fingers crossed that it goes through this time.

  166. Brett - May 19th, 2021 1:57 pm

    One of my re-shipments (with a newly purchased Priority Intl label via Paypal) dropped off Friday May 14, cleared the SF ISC on Monday evening and took off for Australia Tuesday. Looks like the issue was resolved. No word on any refund of my returned labels via Shippo though.

  167. Ciaran - May 20th, 2021 9:31 am

    Looks like my package which I re-mailed on 5/12 with the original label has finally arrived at its destination.

    The lack of tracking info had been making me nervous…

  168. Steve - May 20th, 2021 12:23 pm

    The package I remailed on May 7 with the original label was also successfully delivered. I’d thought it was lost, since the tracking info never showed anything beyond the original return to sender. But the customer confirmed it was delivered a week ago.

  169. Doug - May 20th, 2021 9:35 am

    I re-labeled mine and shipped it on Monday. It just departed the SFO IDC, so I’m hopeful its finally on its way. It appears I’m screwed on a refund on the original shipment, but have a claim in to Paypal.

  170. vincent - May 20th, 2021 11:34 am

    Go another one back. Mailed April 26, via SFO, received back May 20

    Got this sticker on it;

    https://ibb.co/tbgJj5P

    What a mess.

  171. Colin - May 24th, 2021 9:56 am

    To update the refund side of things, just got a follow-up e-mail from Shippo saying they’d secured refunds for my bounced packages.

  172. cody burch - May 27th, 2021 12:51 pm

    USPS is a freaking joke. has anyone gotten anymore packages back?

    again we’ve been shipping this way for years without a problem.

  173. Anonymouse - May 27th, 2021 1:10 pm

    I was able to successfully re-ship using the same/original label. The package was accepted (again) on May 21. On May 24-26 it went through the SF, Santa Clarita, and City of Industry distribution centers. Currently shows “In Transit to Next Facility” and I’m waiting to see it actually leave USA or arrive in the destination country…

  174. V - May 27th, 2021 2:05 pm

    I wouldn’t call is successful till the parcel is actually in the hands of the customer.. Have a couple at SF, one with a new label, one with the initial/first label. Waiting to see if they go through. Usps is now a third world outfit. Wouldn’t want to have that one one my resume if I still aspired a further career..

  175. Anonymouse - May 27th, 2021 2:09 pm

    I agree, it is not a successful re-ship until delivered to the customer! But just getting the original label back into the system and heading in the right direction seems to be a good sign. I’ll let y’all know what happens as the packaging continues on its journey.

  176. Raphaël - May 27th, 2021 11:15 pm

    Received my package the day before yesterday at home in France.
    Thanks Steve ! That was quick after the re-ship !

  177. Anonnn - May 28th, 2021 9:27 am

    So far I’ve reshipped about 6 packages with the original label

    One has made it to its recipient in Canada
    Two have at least made it to their respective countries (Spain and France)

    and one got returned back to me again, I have no idea why (despite being reshipped at the same time as the aforementioned one to France). I’ll just buy new postage for this one, I guess…

    the other two are in limbo since their original tracking ended at being returned to me, so I won’t know until the customer says anything…

  178. Cody Burch - May 28th, 2021 10:22 am

    We received two packages back yesterday. We mailed them on 5/19 and 5/20.

    We have been sending packages the same way for years, using “shipping department” as the name on the return label. They were refused due to “no sender’s name”.

    I have a feeling that, after the USPS system update they will start being very picky on what is allowed through the system. Just as the issue with the export compliance missing, some of our packages with “shipping department” made it through without any issues, only these two came back. WTF

  179. David - May 29th, 2021 1:01 am

    I wonder whether description of:
    Emu
    was taken literally to be products of the Australian bird:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu
    which would be blocked in Australian Customs.

  180. Brett - May 29th, 2021 12:10 pm

    I have also received a message from Shippo that I will be refunded the cost of postage on the packages that were returned.

  181. Vijay on East Coast - May 29th, 2021 1:18 pm

    A problem report from the East Coast!

    Thanks, Steve, for setting this up! I will complete your survey soon. I think this is only the tip of the iceberg, and you will see more postings here soon as the “returns” are being delivered by the slow processing centers on the East coast.

    I paid $81.40 for a Priority Mail International on USPS Click-N-Ship (they should be calling it Click-and-Rip) on April 30th and gave it to clerk at the local NJ post office the same day, with pre-printed customs labels. I am a personal shipper sending gifts to family/friend. No electronic items as such, and provided complete descriptions and weights of individual items on CP-72 declaration forms.

    The package was stuck for a while, and I thought that might be due to Covid situation in the destination (Asia). It was returned to me yesterday (May 28th), after full 4 weeks of going nowhere (and thanks to this blog, I at least know why):
    May 25, 2021
    Return to Sender
    JAMAICA, NY 11430
    May 13, 2021
    In Transit to Next Facility
    May 9, 2021
    Departed USPS Regional Facility
    JAMAICA NY INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    May 9, 2021
    Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
    JAMAICA NY INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
    May 1, 2021
    Customs Clearance
    ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)

    My return had a different label from what you have seen from San Francisco; a red-letter (uppercase) mailing-label sticker saying “Return to Sender due to Export Compliance Regulations Missing Electronic Customs Data”

    Mine doesn’t say who affixed the stamp, but judging by what others have posted, it seems to me that it’s the USPS itself (not US Customs) that rejected it. And also so since it “cleared” US Customs before going Jamaica NY IDC (at JFK Airport).

    The posts here saved me a lot of time and aggravation; so I am not calling USPS, or going to the post office. Will try to apply for refund on USPS online, and dispute with the credit card company. I will also write to my US reps, since they need to know how the USPS “Click-and-Rip” works: This is actually not the first time USPS’s bad software tried to rip me off. I had sent 5 similar packages using Click-N-Rip in the previous 6 months, and 3 out of those 5 times they charged my credit card twice, for the same label. On two of the times, there were different reference numbers (for the same label), so after seeing that the package got delivered, I applied for, and got refunds on the duplicate charge. And, one time, both credit card charges had exactly the same reference number, so I had to dispute with the credit card company.

    So, it seems that there may be a lot of incompetent dummies doing the software programming for USPS. Pathetic also that no USPS employee at those IDCs had a clue or courtesy to see that when the packages are piling up on the RTS shelves, something must be wrong. Couldn’t they realize that even if the “Electronic data are missing”, the paper customs forms on the packages have all the necessary information? And, what’s the purpose of providing the sender’s contact info (e-mail and phone), if they are not going to be used to contact the sender in a situation like this?

    As for me, I am not thinking of re-shipping (even using the same label). Receiver will not be home in 2 weeks, and I will not be home in a month should the package return to me again. From me, USPS lost some future business: using the money that I send 10 of these packages in a year, I can buy a round-trip air ticket, and deliver the items myself.

    I feel sorry for those who run businesses, and have to use USPS. Please, please, don’t just absorb the loss; do whatever you can (local media – as John suggested, elected reps, class-action lawsuit etc) to hold the USPS accountable for highway robbery on top of incompetence.

  182. WTF - May 29th, 2021 9:57 pm

    Had the same issue with returned package. Paid and printed new labels and dropped off at my local USPS location. The clerk claimed they were “unaware” of the situation and refund cannot be made. Called all possible numbers, and everyone was a push-over. Filed a dispute through PayPal and explained the whole fiasco, Paypal didn’t even wait for USPS’s response and fully refined the first label. The new label is already reaching its destination in a few days.

  183. Robin Theobald - June 2nd, 2021 10:59 am

    The small company I work for has had the same issue. I just Googled and found this thread.
    We have shipped internationally for over 30+ yrs with USPS. But everything shipping around the last week of April to the first week of May or so has never even gotten out of the US.
    I do most of the shipping here and am doing nothing different and know of no changes to the process.
    But everything is coming back with the sticker saying “Return to sender due to export compliance regulations missing electronic customs data”.
    But tracking just shows it being returned because of address issues.
    We were on the phone for over an hour the other day with several people from USPS with zero answers.
    Everything that has been returned back, we sent back out using UPS, because USPS is just not reliable at this point.

  184. Anonymouse - June 2nd, 2021 4:20 pm

    Final update on my side. As a recap, my package was sent May 10, returned to sender May 12 in SF, and I received it back on May 14. I then Googled and discovered this fantastic thread, and decided to wait a few days to see what other people reported (i.e., do I pay for another label, or try again with the original).

    On May 21, I decided to attempt to re-ship using the same label. The post office counter person scratched their heads but said they would take it. Tracking indicated it likely left USA on May 27, arrived in Canada on May 28, and today on June 2 the recipient confirmed it was delivered successfully. For anyone who hasn’t yet re-shipped, you might consider trying the same label, before risking another payment for a new label.

    Hope everyone else is able to get their issues resolved. It’s a shame USPS doesn’t seem to acknowledge anything happened. Huge thank-you to BMOW for hosting this thread!!

  185. V - June 10th, 2021 8:05 am

    Filed a claim at this point, since they can’t seem to get their act together… Old label re-used.. In SF for going on 3 weeks now…

  186. Doug - June 10th, 2021 8:10 am

    I reshipped using a new label in mid May and it made it to Italy quicker than normal. My claim on the original $87 with Paypal was denied for some relatively cryptic reason, so I’ve filed a claim with the USPS. That was at least a week ago with nothing but crickets. F’ing postal service…

  187. Matt - June 10th, 2021 9:00 am

    This thread has been a life saver. Most of our 30+ packages have been delivered (after reshipment) we used a combination of old and new labels depending on value of packages.

    We have been trying to work with our shipping platform (ShipStation), as well as Stamps.com — we are not even at the point of getting postage refunded as the only thing the two orgs do is blame the other –even when we consistently point out it is not either of their fault, but the “fault” of USPS and we simply want to get refunds on the postage for the returns that we did not re-use. Both orgs state they are completely unaware of this being an issue.

    This is shocking to us when there had to be thousands (and thousands) of parcels affected.
    We’d prefer a – yes, we know and we’re trying to figure it out.

    We would like to hear more about service providers who got this right, as we would like to change our shipping platform to a more service-oriented provider.

  188. Brett - June 10th, 2021 12:54 pm

    Shippo has promised me twice now that they are securing refunds for its customers affected by this snafu. But so far, nothing has been credited to my account.

  189. tom - June 10th, 2021 6:24 pm

    Same problem here with shipping to China in May 2021 through NY Jamaica facility. Two packages RTS/ with notes: “missing electronic customs data (or similar)”. It’s a banana republic style of customer service, courtesy of US government agencies- either US Customs and Border Protection or USPS.

  190. Sherm - June 11th, 2021 7:50 pm

    Mailed my package to Germany on April 26, cleared NY customs ISC April 27, got to Jamaica NY international distribution center April 28, and sat there until May 28. A few days later Tracking showed a June 2 RTS (”could not be delivered as addressed”). Got the package on June 7 with informative/helpful/sincere/grubby label ”RETURN TO SENDER DUE TO EXPORT COMPLIANCE REGULATIONS MISSING ELECTRONIC CUSTOMS DATA”.

    Sent in a request for USPS support, giving all the details. The response directed me to the USPS wild blue AI yonder of FAQ’s, policies, procedures, etc without saying a single word about the specific problem I described, and needed help on.

    This thread to the rescue. When I learned that the problem had come and gone , leaving quite a few uprooted trees and blown roofs in its wake, I re-mailed with a new label.

    As a side note , it looks like San Francisco is about three or four weeks quicker that New York at processing international mail.

  191. nn - June 14th, 2021 10:07 am

    Sorry to say, this has NOT been resolved on the East Coast.

    I had one Priority parcel (shipped early May; returned mid-May) to the Netherlands returned with the cryptic “Return to Sender Due to Export Compliance Regulations MNissing Electronic Customs Data” sticker. Spoke with my vendor (Pirate Ship) who indicated it was a communications issue. They refunded my postage (super customer service btw). I reshipped with a new label May 17th. Our items go through JFK/NY. Parcel just returned today with the SAME sticker.

    Very frustrating.

  192. V - June 14th, 2021 10:23 am

    USPS = a nightmare. They seems to be in self destruct mode…

  193. Sherm - June 14th, 2021 8:02 pm

    nn Thinking that the problem was solved, I reshipped on June 11. Tracking shows it is working its way thru the normal New York way-points. But now I’m guessing that my package will receive the same treatment as yours did. So in a month or so I expect to get my package back. THer must be a way to break through the USPS barricades and communicate with someone who can help.

  194. Tim - June 15th, 2021 4:08 pm

    I haven’t updated on here for about a month when this was in the earlier days of blowing up. I received my package back on May 12th with the dreaded Missing Data sticker. The routing was Portland, OR through SF Customs with New Zealand as final destination. I waited about a week to decide how to resend, but ended up resending with the old label and having the postal employee re-scan it and force it into the system. Since that date there has been zero update on the tracking. It never even showed up as rescanned or re-sent. I wasn’t sure if it just fell into a black hole or what. However the good news came today that it was delivered to my son in New Zealand safe and sound. Still nothing updated on the tracking but it did arrive! So there is hope, but not alot of clarification on what the heck happened with this whole debacle.

  195. Joe Parknavy - July 22nd, 2021 7:59 am

    I just got 3 back from Japan and one from the UK. They are not leaving the country. They are getting stuck. Pirate Ship says just reprint labels and resend. The will also refund you your postage.

    “Missing Electronic Data”

    Thank you for your patience! 👍
    That “Missing Electronic Data” indicates that there was an error with the necessary information being sent from USPS, to the Customs Department. Back in early July, they reported some issues that they were having regarding this process, but have since rectified the situation. This is 100% an error on their part, and I’m so sorry that they dropped the ball here 😭
    We have issued credits to your account for the cost of both of these labels. You’ll be able to see this reflected in your account balance, on your Reports Page! I hope this helps you set sail again, Captain ⛵

  196. Joe Parknavy - July 22nd, 2021 8:01 am

    I am also shipping express.

  197. Anonymouse - July 22nd, 2021 8:01 am

    @Joe Parknavy, what US distribution center were your packages returned from?

  198. Joe Parknavy - July 22nd, 2021 8:09 am

    @Anonymouse Here is a tracking number all of them are the same EP863263566US

    Look like New York.

  199. Ann - July 22nd, 2021 9:25 am

    I can report, that with my customer’s ok, I reshipped at the after the 2nd return via Priority Mail through First Class Mail using Pirate Ship’s Simple Export Rate. Fortunately, the parcel was just under 4 lbs. As there was no longer any point in rushing service as we’d started this excruciating path MAY 3rd!

    Happy to report, it seems 3rd time was the charm after ONLY 2 1/2 months 🙁

    Original: Priority shipping date was May 3 – returned May 28
    Second: Priority ship date May 29 – returned June 14
    Third: First Class shipping date was June 15 – landed in the Netherlands July 5th; cleared for pick up on July 16th. 🙂

    Customs for Priority Parcels both went through Jamaica NY ISC Customs. The First Class parcel was different. It went through, sequentially:

    USPS Facility: METRO NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER BROOKLYN NY 11256 US
    USPS Facility: MID NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER MELVILLE NY 11747 US
    Processed by Asendia: RONKONKOMA, NY 11779
    Asendia Facility: HAUPPAUGE NY 11788
    Next Stop: Netherlands

    Hope that info helps someone.

  200. Tyler - July 22nd, 2021 9:44 am

    I’ll update my status in case anyone else is experiencing the same thing. I had re sent my package to Japan on 5/17 (see previous posts) and apparently the tracking number didn’t work for the resent label. I kept checking with my sister-in-law to see if it ever arrived and the answer was always ‘no’. I assumed that I was out that package because I wouldn’t be able to claim insurance since I couldn’t track it, but it finally arrived….. 2 months later. I don’t know if it was stuck in US customs or Japan Customs, but it eventually made it there on the re-shipped label.

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