Our International Standard parcels are sent through the standard postal system, which in the UK is handled by Royal Mail.
The first tracking entry for each International Standard Tracked parcel will be "We're expecting it" or "Sender preparing item". However, these parcels are not individually scanned when they are collected from us. Royal Mail almost certainly do have the parcel if that is the most recent entry, even though the tracking page has not yet updated to acknowledge that they have it. We are currently marking Royal Mail orders as shipped on our website only on the day that they will actually be collected from us.
The next tracking update does not happen until the parcels are being sorted in one of Royal Mail's parcel hubs. This typically happens within a few days, but can take longer if Royal Mail are particularly busy.
Mailbags containing international parcels are not opened at the local sorting office, they are sent straight to the hub. Royal Mail continue showing the parcel as "We're expecting it" because they have not yet opened the mailbag and physically scanned the parcels inside.
The total delivery time for International Standard parcels can be extremely variable - they mostly arrive within 2 or 3 weeks, but some can take up to about 5 or 6 weeks.
There were some computer problems at Royal Mail in January 2023 which affected their ability to export international parcels, causing major delays. However, as of mid March 2023, postal services now seem to be back to normal. Most parcels are being exported from the UK within about a week of dispatch.
The time between the "Leaving the UK" export scan and the first scan by the foreign postal system can be as short as a day or two, or it can be longer than a week. We have also seen a small number of parcels go straight from "We're expecting it" to arriving in the foreign postal system a few weeks later, with no "Leaving the UK" export scan.
In some cases it may be worth also trying the tracking number on the website of your national postal system. Please see here for links to the websites of other postal operators. After parcels have left the UK, Royal Mail's tracking page may be less accurate or may be slow to show tracking updates for those parcels. The tracking page of the postal operator that currently has the parcel will normally give the most accurate and up to date information on the parcel's current status.
Royal Mail's international incident page has information about any current problems or additional delays expected for specific countries: https://www.royalmail.com/international-incident-bulletin (country list is at the bottom of the page)