Though with the internet, smartphones and mobile technology the world can often feel like a very small place, some things can’t be sent via email and still have to be delivered the old fashioned way.

And when you do need to send a parcel through the post, knowing how long it’s going to take to reach its destination is important both for the sender and the recipient.

So if you’re sending a parcel to New York, Sydney or Timbuktu, here are some general timescales that you can work to in order to get your stuff to its destination on time

Sending parcels abroad

When sending parcels abroad, the most important thing to remember in order to aid their journey is to address and label them correctly.

If international parcels are incorrectly labelled it could lead to long delays in their delivery or even to them not being delivered at all. So before you call the courier, take a minute to ensure that all the information is present and correct.

What can cause hold ups with international delivery?

One of the main factors that can hold up international parcel delivery is the customs service of other countries.

Depending on what you’re sending where, the recipient could be liable to pay fees or taxes in order to receive their item.

You can help this process along by correctly and clearly labelling the contents of your parcel and by using a service that can track your parcel so that you can notify the recipient when it arrives in their country.


As no custom declarations are needed for parcels heading to the EU, it’s much less likely that they’ll get held up in transit. Therefore delivery times can be as short as a couple of days.

However this will depend on the method of shipping used, with couriers and airmail by far your quickest option as land shipping can take anything up to a few weeks.

The rest of the world

There might be cheaper ways to send a parcel via airmail so ask your courier for details

If you’re sending a parcel to a country that’s outside the EU, you need to ensure that you’ve attached the correct customs declaration and that you know the value of the item and the nature of all of the contents listed.

Most countries will have a list of products that are banned within the country and you could get into trouble if you try to send something on this list. So always check before you send.

If you choose a good parcel delivery service and are willing to pay for fast shipping, it’s possible to send a parcel almost anywhere in the world within a week.

However, as this can cost a lot of money, it’s always better to look for more affordable options if delivery isn’t urgent.

If you decide to ship a parcel by sea or land, delivery can take a good few weeks, with delivery to places like China and Australia taking around a month from the collection date.

However there are a few options that fall in between, with some economy airmail options available that take around 5-10 working days.

Sending parcels around the world, if undertaken properly, is easy and affordable. However, as there are a few potential minefields it’s important to pay careful attention throughout the sending process and to keep track of your item through transit if possible.

What’s for certain is that if you choose a good company, label your parcel clearly and declare all goods correctly, your parcel shouldn’t have any problems whether it’s winging its way to the other side of the country or the other side of the world.