International Standard parcels status

Our International Standard parcels are sent through the standard postal system, which in the UK is handled by Royal Mail.

"We're expecting it" / "Sender preparing item"

The first tracking entry for each International Standard Tracked parcel will be "We're expecting it" or "Sender preparing item". This tracking entry will happen within a couple of hours of the parcels being collected from us. However, these parcels are not individually scanned during collection. They are handed over to Royal Mail inside sealed mailbags, which are then sent to one of Royal Mail's hubs to be sorted. 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.

This means that if the tracking page is showing "We're expecting it" or "Sender preparing item", then Royal Mail do have the parcel, even though the tracking page has not yet updated to acknowledge that they have it.

The next tracking update will happen when the parcels are being sorted in one of Royal Mail's parcel hubs. This typically happens within a few days, but can take longer. This is because international mailbags are not opened and processed at the local delivery office, so it may take a day or so for Royal Mail to transport them to one of the main sorting hubs, and then if they are particularly busy a few more days to open the mailbag and scan the parcels.

We usually mark Royal Mail orders as shipped on our website only on the day that they will actually be collected from us.

Expected tracking events and delivery time

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.

For International Standard Tracked parcels, the expected tracking events and when they occur are as follows. International Standard Signed parcels have the same tracking events until they leave the UK, but may have less detailed tracking inside the destination country.

  1. "Sender preparing item" - occurs on the day of dispatch, usually around mid to late afternoon (UK time). Royal Mail have collected the mailbags containing today's parcels from us, but they have not yet opened them and processed the contents.
  2. "Item Received by Royal Mail" - Royal Mail have now opened the mailbag and scanned the parcels inside. This might happen as quick as one day after dispatch, or it might take a few days.
  3. "Item Leaving the UK" - Royal Mail have processed the parcel and it is due to be exported from the UK soon. For most parcels, this tracking entry happens within about a week of dispatch.
  4. "Item Received" in the destination country - the foreign postal system has received the item. 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.
  5. The expected tracking entries and times from this point up until delivery will depend on the country. Some postal operators are quicker than others, and parcels can get stuck in customs for a while. After the parcel reaches your country, the website of your national postal operator might give more detailed and accurate information than the Royal Mail website. The tracking number to use remains the same.

Note that these are the typical tracking entries and timeframes expected, if your parcel's journey does not match these then it does not necessarily mean that it has been lost. For example, we have 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. Please see here for details of when parcels are considered lost.

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:  (country list is at the bottom of the page)