What is ePacket? Guide for International Businesses

Vivien Thuri

As international trade and e-commerce have grown, so have shipping options.

ePacket is one such shipping option, allowing for fast delivery times, end-to-end parcel tracking and cheaper shipping rates.

This article explores what ePacket is, the pros and cons of using the service, as well as everything else involved.

Paying for imports from overseas it’s best to avoid high exchange rates.To do that send money with the mid-market rate, get a guaranteed rate for your transfer or use an exchange rate tracker. Wise Business offers you all that and more!

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Table of contents
  • What is ePacket?
  • Pros and Cons of using ePacket
  • What is ePacket shipping?
  • Cost of ePacket shipping
  • What is ePacket delivery?
  • Track ePacket
  • How long does ePacket delivery take from China to the US?
  • Is ePacket safe?
  • ePacket customer reviews - 2021
  • What is ePacket?

    ePacket shipping is a type of shipping method supported by suppliers in Hong Kong and China, utilizing third-party logistics (3PL).

    Before ePacket, most shipments from China and Hong Kong were covered by Express Mail Service (EMS) China.

    This was a reasonably affordable method of shipment, but resulted in long delivery times - sometimes in excess of one month.

    Quicker methods of shipment were often too costly, particularly when the products themselves were of low cost.

    This all changed in 2011 when the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced a new service, supporting e-commerce businesses with supply chains in Hong Kong and China - ePacket².

    Today, ePacket is now supported in multiple countries across the world and serves a shipping option for businesses needing to ship small products of low value.

    It has become a popular option for dropshipping businesses in recent times.


    Pros and Cons of using ePacket

    Pros of using ePacket
    Shipping time ePacket shipping times are usually shorter than other available methods. The standard delivery time from China to the US using ePacket is 7-30 days³
    Tracking One of the most highly rated features of ePacket is the tracking option available for your parcels. End-to-end tracking, with a small fee of ¥8-16 RMB³, is a big benefit of ePacket, allowing you to know exactly where your parcel is at all times. This is perfect for your business as it gives your customers peace of mind, allowing them to track exactly where their package is
    Cost-effective ePacket shipping is cost-effective, charging fair rates. Compared to other shipping options such as China International EMS³, for example, ePacket is far cheaper.
    Cons of using ePacket
    Unavailability As of now, ePacket is officially available in only 42 countries³ ⁴. This is of course problematic if your customers are based elsewhere, as ePacket shipping won’t be available for them.
    Compensations In case your ePacket parcel got lost, delayed or damaged you couldn’t get any compensation. However the parcels that can’t be successfully delivered will be returned to the sender (except if the parcel is sent to Germany).³

    What is ePacket shipping?

    ePacket shipping is simply a type of shipping option offered by merchants in China and Hong Kong.

    The shipping is handled by third-party logistics providers - in other words, local couriers - such as China Post and USPS.

    The service gives USPS First Class mail priority to packages coming out of China and Hong Kong, with the addition of tracking features minus exorbitant rates.

    To be able to offer ePacket shipping, packages have certain size, weight and price requirements:

    Maximum package limitations⁴ ⁵
    Weight 4.4 lbs / 2 kg
    Length 24 inches / 60 cm
    Sum of height, width and length 36 inches / 90 cm
    Price (value of the package) $400 USD

    As long as these requirements are met, any merchant can offer ePacket shipping.


    As of the time of writing, ePacket shipping is officially available in 42 countries:

    world-map-with-countries

    ePacket countries ³ ⁴
      Arabia
      Australia
      Austria
      Belgium
      Brazil
      Canada
      Croatia
      Denmark
      Estonia
      Finland
      France
      Germany
      Gibraltar
      Greece
      Hong Kong
      Hungary
      Indonesia
      Ireland
      Israel
      Italy
      Japan
      Kazakhstan
      Korea
      Lithuania
      Luxembourg
      Malaysia
      Mexico
      Netherlands
      New Zealand
      Norway
      Poland
      Portugal
      Russia
      Saudi
      Singapore
      Spain
      Sweden
      Switzerland
      Turkey
      UK
      Ukraine
      USA
    These are the officially listed countries that offer ePacket shipping, sourced from the USPS and China Postal Tracking. Other providers and articles may have different countries listed.

    Cost of ePacket shipping

    Here’s a quick summary of ePacket shipping costs.

    It should be noted that these costs exclude a tracking fee, which is an additional ¥8-16 RMB.

    These ePacket shipping costs are also only a reference - the actual price is always set by the China Post office at the time of shipping.

    Weight (kilograms)Cost (1 RMB = 0.16 USD)
    0.5 kg 49 RMB ($7.69 USD)
    1.0 kg 89 RMB ($13.97 USD)
    1.5 kg 129 RMB ($20.26 USD)
    2.0 kg (maximum allowable weight) 169 RMB ($26.54 USD)³

    You can also check the latest exchange rate for USD to RMB.


    What is ePacket delivery?

    ePacket delivery is the term used to describe the movement of your package after shipping.

    This is handled by a local courier in your given country, such as the USPS, who themselves have their own fees and package requirements.


    Track ePacket

    One of the major benefits of ePacket shipping is its tracking feature.

    With ePacket tracking, you have full end-to-end tracking of your package, allowing you to easily manage multiple packages at once.

    You can track your ePacket with the help of websites such as:

    The ePacket tracking number begins with an “L” and another letter, followed by 9 digits, and ending with the letters “CN” - making for a total of 13 characters.³


    How long does ePacket delivery take from China to the US?

    usa-and-china-flag

    ePacket shipping can be fast but the time of delivery varies from one country to the next.

    • For Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, the delivery time is between 7-20 working days.

    • For Mexico, customers can expect to wait 20 working days.

    • And for the US and the rest of the countries, delivery times range between 7-30 working days


    Is ePacket safe?

    Overall ePacket is a safe service to use.

    Due to the volume of parcels being processed by China Post, it can be expected that some occasionally fall behind the curve, ending up being late and - in the worst case - lost.

    When analyzing customer reviews of ePacket, the main complaint is about long delivery times, in excess of the expected delivery time - not about safety.

    Some customers complain of having to wait more than two months for their parcel to arrive.

    Almost all reviews, however, emphasise the detailed tracking tools available, which at least ease the waiting process. Similarly, when late packages arrive, they usually do so without any damage.

    It's worth noting that due to the recent Coronavirus desease even local deliveries were delayed.


    ePacket customer reviews

    On Package Radar ePacket receives mixed reviews, however on TrackingMore the reviews are better, the highest being five out of five.

    Here’s a small compilation of ePacket reviews:

    ePacket Reviews
    “Shipping time only took 6 days from China to the United States. Very fast and reliable!”
    “Very, very, very slow, but the detailed frequent tracking notifications I received from Package Radar were informative and helpful in tracing the package.”
    “ePacket is that great middle tier shipping service from China. When you don't want to wait for 3+ months for free shipping, but also don't want to pay $40 for 3 day shipping, there's ePacket. It will take about 1-2 weeks (for me in Canada) and you will get more tracking than regular free shipping [...] So, if you want reliable shipping that will arrive in a couple weeks and only costs $2-6 then ePacket is ideal.”
    “I have been using ePacket since 2 years ago, because I am a dropshipper, and it is reliable and cheap [...] I order between 2000 items monthly, 95% are delivered on time [...] I recommend you ePacket if you are sending items from China.”

    Pay for your imports from China with Wise

    Wise-illustration-people-celebrate

    When paying for imports from China it’s best to use a service that is cost effective and exchanges your money at the mid-market rate.

    Wise Business can help you manage international payments, subscriptions and multi-currency cash flow all in your Wise multi-currency account.

    Get local account details - such as IBAN and routing number - so your overseas customers can pay you on time.

    On top of all that - you can save up to 19x compared to PayPal when your business is paying for overseas products or services.

    Open your Wise Business account today

    Sources:

    1. United States Census Bureau - Trade in goods with China
    2. United States Postal Service - Postal Service Initiates ePacket Service with Hongkong Post
    3. China Post Tracking - China EMS packet/ePacket
    4. USPS - International Business Shipping
    5. APC Postal Logistcs - USPS commercial ePacket

    All sources checked 30 December 2021


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