The Beginner’s Guide to ePacket Delivery: Everything Your Need to Know

If you have any plans to ship some of your products from China, ePacket delivery is one of the most common options to do so. It's becoming rather typical for online stores and many types of business owners to purchase products from outside of their own country. One of those countries is China. There are a wide variety of reasons that China has become a leader in manufacturing, but much of it has to do with low costs and highly specialized workers. Therefore it makes sense that you, as an online business owner, may want to source some of your products from China and ship them to your own country.

As mentioned, ePacket delivery is one of your shipping options when purchasing or dropshipping from China. If you have no idea what an ePacket is, or you would like to learn more about the pros and cons, this is the article for you.

Keep reading to learn more about ePacket delivery. We'll cover everything from the basics of an ePacket to why you might want to implement this type of shipping for your own business. We'll also give you some tips on how to maximize efficiency and minimize costs of ePacket delivery.

What is an ePacket?

As we talked about in the introduction, an ePacket is a type of shipping option only offered by sellers in China and Hong Kong. On the surface, the ePacket system is basically an agreement between the Hong Kong Post and the United States Postal Service.

epacket shipping - USA postal service

The reason ePacket delivery became a thing–and the reason for this agreement between postal services–is because China has been trying to boost the number of online sales coming out of China/Hong Kong and going to other countries.

Although the arrangement is between the USPS and the Hong Kong Post, sellers from China can actually ship their products to a wide variety of other countries.

epacket shipping - delivery

As for the primary specifics of an ePacket, you can only ship one of these packages if the value of the items inside is less than $400. In addition, the package can't weigh more than 4.4 lbs (or 2 kg).

One of the other reasons the ePacket system was developed is to provide faster and less expensive shipping and delivery from China. In the past, it could get extremely expensive to ship out of China, not to mention the additional costs like customs. China EMS used to be the primary shipping solution when sending items out of China. It was a slow and tedious process that often took a few months for delivery to other countries.

The “e” in ePacket is pulled from the “e” in ecommerce, since online business is the primary reason that the shipping method came about. Overall, both Hong Kong and China, along with online businesses around the world, have benefited drastically from ePacket delivery.

How Does an ePacket Get Delivered?

epacket shipping - aliexpress shipping tracking

An ePacket delivery isn't much different than a standard package, except a few problems were removed from the process. For instance, ePackets come with start to finish tracking. The local postal services will then deliver the items as usual, and the customer is able to use that tracking code on whichever website they would typically use for their local Postal Service. For instance, a customer in the United States would go to the USPS website and paste in their ePacket tracking code. The same code would work on the EMS website for Chinese customers.

The majority of ePackets are sent out from larger marketplaces like eBay and AliExpress. Having said that, pretty much any vendor from China can also send out an ePacket if they want.

Finally, the entire shipping price also incorporates the return of undeliverable goods. This means that if a customer doesn't receive an item for whatever reason, it gets sent back to the seller without any additional cost. This makes for easier and more cost-effective refunds in general.

The Pros and Cons of ePacket Delivery

It's important to realize that ePacket delivery is not for everyone. Some companies will find that there are extreme geographic limitations or that their products are far too expensive or heavy to ship through an ePacket. Having said that, there are also plenty of advantages for companies that want to send out products by using ePackets. So, let's go over the pros and cons of ePacket delivery so that you know if your online business can take advantage of it.

Pros

  • Speed – And ePacket delivery means that all shipments coming out of China will be much faster than they used to be. Most other methods generally take several months to get to other countries. These methods might be suitable when shipping from one person in China to another person in China, but ePacket delivery makes far more sense for sending to places like the United States and other countries. In general, you can expect a shipment rate of 10 to 20 days when using an ePacket.
  • More sales – You're not going to be able to compete in terms of shipping times compared to large marketplaces such as Amazon. However many people realize that some products only come from China. Many of your customers will know that a merchant that offers ePacket delivery is going to ship and deliver that package much faster. Therefore, you should see higher conversions if you are selling products from China by using ePackets.
  • Tracking and Delivery Confirmations – Even though an ePacket is much faster than other forms of international shipping in China, it's still much slower than the two-day local shipping everyone is accustomed to with Amazon. Therefore, ePackets have excellent tracking options for just about every Postal Service in supported ePacket countries. This removes any uncertainty there is for your customer and allows people to get tracking updates throughout the process and see when the delivery has arrived.
  • Overall Inexpensiveness – International shipping is extremely expensive. If you wanted to ship from another country to yours, you might pay $50 to $100 in shipping fees. No one wants to pay that, especially when the product only costs $10. An ePacket significantly reduces these costs so that you and your customer aren't slammed with a high shipping fee.
  • Customs are covered by the customer – If any of your products go through customs or are required to pay extra taxes or duties, the recipient of that shipment is responsible for the payments. Although this might not happen on all of your products, your company won't be required to pay any unexpected fees after shipping out your products from China.

Cons

  • Some products can't be shipped – You'll learn below that ePacket shipping has several requirements and restrictions. We also mentioned that all ePacket contents must be under a certain value and weight. Because of this, some merchants won't be able to send out these types of packages. You might be selling items that are far too expensive for an ePacket. Other sellers might have items that are too big or too heavy.
  • Some ePacket shippers don't include all countries – There are some products and merchants that aren't able or willing to ship ePackets to certain countries. This means that even though ePacket delivery may be technically allowed in your country, you might still be restricted. For instance, many products can only be shipped to the United States from China. Also, many suppliers will decide only to ship to the United States.
  • Not many countries are actually supported in general – You'll see in one of the lists we have below that around 30 countries allow ePacket delivery. Seeing as how there are roughly 200 countries in the entire world, this is actually a small portion of the areas that you might want to ship to.

A Word About ePacket Delivery and Dropshipping

One of the main reasons you might consider ePacket delivery is if you want to dropship products to your customers. Dropshipping has become a fairly popular form of selling, where you partner with manufacturers who create, store, and ship all of your products directly to your customers. Therefore, you only have to run your online store and whatever other business elements you have to deal with.

What's great about drop shipping and ePacket delivery is that some of the large Chinese marketplaces already offer ePacket shipping through their platforms. For example, AliExpress and DHGate both have ePackets integrated into their systems.

So, the dropshipper would choose that they want to send out products in ePackets. After that, the manufacturer or supplier takes over and sends the customer a tracking code so they can check-in on the current status and delivery time.

It depends on the system you're purchasing through, but you should expect anywhere from free shipping to around five dollars. AliExpress, for instance, charges around three dollars to five dollars for all ePacket deliveries. It also usually takes around 16 to 18 days for an item to reach its final destination.

DHGate, on the other hand, offers free shipping when you opt for the ePacket delivery. You should also expect to see your shipments take a few days less compared to AliExpress. It depends on what type of buying you're doing, but you can purchase in bulk or ship products directly to your customers.

Does Your Country Allow for ePacket Delivery and Shipping?

The list of countries that support ePacket delivery is ever-growing. As of right now, we have close to 40 countries and a few of them that are testing out ePacket delivery.

Here's the country list in alphabetical order:

1. Australia
2. Austria
3. Belgium
4. Brazil
5. Canada
6. Denmark
7. Finland
8. France (you can only ship to some territories, including mainland codes of 01 to 95. Overseas territory shipping with ePackets is not allowed in France)
9. Germany
10. Greece
11. Hong Kong
12. Hungary
13. Ireland
14. Israel
15. Italy
16. Japan
17. Kazakhstan (currently in a trial run)
18. Korea
19. Luxembourg
20. Malaysia
21. Mexico
22. Netherlands
23. New Zealand
24. Norway
25. Poland
26. Portugal
27. Russia
28. Saudi Arabia
29. Singapore
30. Spain (in testing for some cities)
31. Sweden
32. Switzerland
33. Thailand (currently in a trial run)
34. Turkey
35. Ukraine
36. The United Kingdom (this includes all cities)
37. The United States (this includes all states)
38. Vietnam (in testing)

ePacket Delivery Requirements

International shipping is far more complicated than domestic shipping. Part of this has to do with the fact that international packages need to be certain weights and sizes. The same can be said for ePacket requirements, since pretty much all of them are being sent internationally.

epacket shipping - delivery requirements

The Minimum Size of the Package

All standard packages should be no less than 14 cm in length x 11 cm in width. Therefore, you might encounter some instances where your product is much smaller than the actual package. This is typically fine since you can cram filler material into the package so that your product fits just right.

As for packages that are rolled up, the minimum length should be 11 cm. Also, you should take the diameter of the package and multiply it by two. Add that to the length of the package. Your result should always be more than 17 cm. Keep in mind that this is only for rolled up packages.

The Maximum Size of the Package

To make things even a little more complicated, ePackets also have a maximum package size. Let's say that you want to send out a standard package. Take a look at the longest side of the package and make sure that it is no more than 70 cm long. You should also add the length with the height and ensure that the sum is no greater than 90 cm.

As for rolled up packages, the long side should never be more than 90 cm. You should also double the diameter of the package, add the length to that result, and make sure that it's no more than 104 cm.

You also have to consider the weight and value of your package. As we discussed a bit in the introduction of this article, you're not allowed to ship anything over $400 in ePackets. This will eliminate plenty of online stores that have more expensive items that need to be shipped.

Another thing to consider is that ePackets can only be shipped from China or Hong Kong to the countries that are on the eligibility list.

Finally, the weight of your ePackets must not be higher than 4.4 lbs (2 kg). The only exception to this rule is Israel, where an ePacket can weigh a maximum of 6.6 lbs (3 kg). Keep in mind, that the total weight of your package includes everything such as interior packaging, the product inside the packaging, any mailing labels, and the actual shipping box itself. Therefore, you need to weigh everything once it is completely packaged and ready to ship.

How to Tell if Your Package is an ePacket

Sometimes you might want to check your packaging to see if it's, in fact, an ePacket. Other times, your customers might be wondering if their order will be arriving in an ePacket as well. The reasoning for this is pretty simple. First of all, some customers might know that an ePacket delivery is bound to get to their home faster and cheaper. Therefore, they might ask you about the shipping method prior to buying.

So, what are some of the giveaways that identify an ePacket delivery? One of the ways to check the type of package is to look in the “Orders” area of the marketplace in which you're buying from. For instance, AliExpress has this section for you to check and see logistical information. In short, this area reveals the type of packaging that is used for all international and domestic shipping. If it says ePacket, then an ePacket has indeed been sent out.

Some online stores also might show this in the customer order area. I wouldn't recommend telling your customer to go look up their order until you see that the tracking number is actually in the customer's order page.

One of the most obvious ways to determine if your package is an ePacket is to look at the tracking number. The majority of packages sent out in this way have tracking codes that begin with the letter “L.” This isn't always going to happen, but it is extremely common.

You can also identify that a package is not an ePacket if there is no tracking code included with the shipment. As we discussed earlier, all ePacket deliveries have tracking that follows all packages from start to finish.

Another less accurate way to figure out if the shipment is an ePacket is to start by checking if the package is from China or Hong Kong. After that, you could go into the types of packaging that are typically used for ePackets, along with the dimensions and weight requirements that we talked about before. Doing a “visual check” of the package is most definitely not going to always be accurate, but there are some metrics that you can look into such as the weight, height, and length.

Also, as the merchant, you know that anything being packaged above $400 is not going to be in an ePacket.

How Long Does it Take for ePacket Delivery?

We mentioned that the average ePacket shipping time is around 10 to 20 business days. This is obviously an improvement over other shipment options that would take several months.

However, we can get a bit more specific based on location and when the package is sent out. Not only that, but much of it depends on the country that the package is being sent to. There are plenty of public and national holidays and differences in the way local post offices deliver packages. Furthermore, there can be some delays if the package runs into customs or any other roadblocks along the way.

That being said, it's a good rule of thumb to expect your ePacket delivery within 10 to 20 days.

Let's take a look at some of the average shipping times for certain countries:

Most supported countries: 7 to 10 business days
Mexico: 20 business days
Saudia Arabia, Ukraine, and Russia: 7 to 15 business days

What Should You Tell Customers If an ePacket is Delayed?

One of the benefits of using ePacket delivery is that there aren't that many delays. You may experience delays during busy times like holidays, but in general, ePackets are pretty reliable. However, it's important to provide the best customer service you possibly can to any disgruntled customers that may be confused about where their packages are located.

Since delays rarely happen, it's best to go above and beyond with this particular customer so that they'll continue to be a customer and potentially share their great customer service experience with other people. In short, you'd most likely be better off telling your customer about the situation and shipping out a replacement item with a tracking code. Then, tell them to keep both of the items and use it for themselves or to give to someone else.

If that doesn't seem like it would work for your company, you can typically settle these disputes by offering transaction information and whatever tracking number was sent along with it. In short, you take advantage of the fact that ePackets have tracking codes on them all the time. The customer shouldn't be confused about where the item is, because they have the trusty tracking code.

You also might walk them through the process of looking up a tracking code. Some customers might not know exactly where to go or how to copy that code to see when the item's coming in. Check out their location, look up local post office info, then direct your customers to the exact URL where they can copy and paste in the ePacket tracking code.

ePacket Delivery: What's the Tracking Like?

We've talked quite a bit about tracking codes, delivery shipping times, and the benefits of those shipping codes with all ePacket delivery.

But there are some specific details about tracking an ePacket delivery that you should know.

epacket shipping - track EMS

First of all, ePacket tracking codes can be copied and pasted into multiple websites. It all depends on where the customer lives, because they would end up navigating to the local Postal Service website to use that tracking code. For example, a US customer would jump to the USPS website and paste that tracking code in there. Another example would be using the China EMS website for all Chinese customers.

Therefore, the ePacket tracking codes have some versatility in that they start working on different websites based on where the shipping address is located.

If you're having trouble with the postal tracking pages, you might consider some 3rd-party tracking solutions such as Track-ChinaPost or AfterShip. These are excellent options that can be integrated into your online store to ensure that every step is emailed to and updated for your customers.

It's also worth noting that many platforms like AliExpress have their own impressive tracking systems already implemented for you. Therefore, you would link a platform like Shopify to AliExpress. Then, whenever a package is sent out, AliExpress would give you that tracking code and notify your customer of the shipment.

How Do Customs Work with ePacket Delivery?

Sending your ePackets through customs is often an inevitable part of the delivery process. It depends on the country in which you're sending your package, but you can expect many of the borders to have customs and additional fees such as taxes or even insurance charges. Some other expenses might include duties, freight, or simple port of entry fees based on the geographical location of your customer.

The good news for you as a merchant is that you almost never have to pay anything like customs, duties, or taxes when sending out ePackets. Instead, customers are the ones that are required to pay any of those fees when the package arrives. It's not a bad idea to include this disclosure on your website so that your customers don't get disgruntled when they have to pay even more money at their door.

That said, many countries don't even have these fees.

The best plan is to check local laws of the countries that you shipped to frequently. You would ask them what taxes, customs, and duties your customers might have to pay for all imported purchases. Some of the fees might depend on which types of items you're sending as well. Overall, it's best to know the laws of the countries to which you ship.

You may also want to speak with your manufacturer or supplier to see if they know anything about extra fees that your customers will have to pay. There's a good chance that a manufacturer has all sorts of experience shipping to a country like the one you are shipping to. If that's the case, they may be able to fill you in with even more information.

How Will ePacket Delivery Affect My Business and My Customers?

For customers, ePacket delivery means that they will receive international products faster and cheaper than they ever have been able to before. This means that they gain direct access to products that may have been unattainable in previous years. That said, some of your customers might not be able to take advantage of ePacket shipping because of their geographical location. Hopefully, many more countries are added to the list of accepted ePacket delivery locations.

Another thing that ePacket delivery means for your customers is that they will always have a tracking code to ensure that they know where their package is at all times. This is a end-to-end tracking code that is often sent to your customer in a shipping confirmation email. Sometimes the confirmation code may be sent directly to you for you to pass along to your customer.

As for the effect that ePackets have on your own business, they definitely open up some possibilities for you to dropship products from China or Hong Kong. There might be more business-relevant products that you can find on websites like AliExpress. You also may be able to locate items that are far less expensive in China.

The ePacket delivery process also means that you should be making your customers much happier. Some of the people who order products from you may not get to take advantage of the ePacket shipping, but many of them will appreciate the faster shipping and minimized shipping costs.

That said, ePackets aren't necessarily a good idea if you plan on shipping locally. The speed of delivery is always going to be important to your customers, and if you can't compete with similar businesses in your country then you're better off investing more in higher quality local delivery.

You should always keep an eye on what your customers are looking for in the world of shipping. One year your customers may be obsessed with the idea of ePacket shipping. But the next year you might find that cheaper and faster shipping is available. And your customers might just be clamoring for it.

Over to You…

There you have it!

You may have been hearing about these ePacket delivery options in the recent past. Hopefully, this article has allowed you to learn more about it to understand if ePackets would be beneficial for your online business or not.

Essentially, ePackets are fairly simple. They're regular packages, yet all of them are coming from China or Hong Kong. There are some restrictions and some things you should know about customs and other fees. That being said, ePackets are almost always faster compared to other international shipping options, you can keep your shipping costs much lower, and you should be able to make your customers happier by providing them options for interesting products they can't buy elsewhere.

If you have any questions about ePacket delivery and how it all works, let us know in the comments section below.

Featured image via Shutterstock

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Joe Warnimont

Joe Warnimont is a freelance writer who creates tools and resources to help other writers get more productive and market their work.