Items that originate in the United States and are found to be undeliverable in the destination country will generally be returned to the U.S. sender.
Ordinary (unregistered) items of printed matter, other than books, are not returned, unless the sender has requested their return. Parcels whose customs declaration requests abandonment in event of nondelivery are usually not returned.
Mail returned to the United States should bear an endorsement specifying the reason for nondelivery. The following French and Spanish language endorsements are frequently noted on returned mail:
New postage must be applied to returned items, which are subsequently reentered into the mail.
Except as noted in 771.52, certain undeliverable-as-addressed mail items that a foreign postal administration returns to the U.S. sender are not subject to the payment of return charges. This provision applies to the following items:
- First-Class Mail International items (including postcards).
- First-Class Package International Service items.
- Airmail M–bags.
- International Priority Airmail (IPA) items, including M-bags.
- International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) items, including M-bags.
Delivery Post Office facilities should collect return charges from the U.S. sender under the following circumstances:
- If a returned letter-post item listed in 771.51 bears a short-paid endorsement that was originally applied by the Postal Service dispatching exchange office, the delivery office should collect the amount of the postage deficiency that would otherwise have been collected from the foreign addressee.
- If a returned letter-post item listed in 771.51 bears a collection instruction that was applied by an international service center (ISC), international exchange office, or the Mail Recovery Center, the delivery office should collect the “due amount” that is specified on the mailpiece.
On delivery to the sender, return parcels are subject to collection of return postage and any other charges, including charges assessed by the foreign postal authorities. The amount of such charges will be indicated by the international exchange office, usually on a PS Form 2993, Returned or Redirected Parcel (label).
If the sender refuses a returned parcel, it must be disposed of as dead Priority Mail International.
If the sender has moved to another address in the United States, the returned parcel may be redirected, subject to forwarding postage, at the U.S. domestic zone price.
If the sender has moved to another country, the Post Office facility must hold the parcel and request instructions from International Claims, St. Louis ASC, P.O. Box 80146, St. Louis, MO 63180-0146. Requests should include the following information:
- New address of the sender.
- Amount of return charges due on the parcel.
- Weight of the parcel.
- Whether the parcel is insured.
- Nature and value of the contents as shown on the customs declaration.