International Exchange Offices | USPS Office of Inspector General


our goal was to assess the acceptability of incoming international mail in the us. uu. international exchange offices of the postal service (ieos). Incoming international mail originates from foreign countries for delivery in the US. uu. And it usually arrives at one of the Postal Service’s five International Service Centers (ISCs) located in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles California; Miami Florida; new york, ny, and san francisco, ca. the postal service policy also lists 22 ieos that accept international mail.

what the IGO found

the postal service accepted incoming international mail at only four of the 22 facilities listed as ieos in its policy:

  • the new jersey international network distribution center in newark, nj.
  • the honolulu processing and distribution center (p&dc) in honolulu, hi.
  • the main payment office in american samoa.
  • the barrigada post office in guam.

These four facilities accepted less than 5 percent of total incoming international mail in fiscal year (fy) 2016, largely due to their unique geographic locations (except for the new jersey facility, which primarily accepts ground mail, but also accepts incoming airmail). mail). The remaining 95 percent of incoming international mail volumes were accepted at the five ISCs, which are strategically located near major international airports throughout the country. none of the ieo’s remaining 18 facilities accepted international mail; three of which were closed. the remaining 15 ieos continue to conduct various national mail operations.

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while two ieos — the san juan p&dc in puerto rico and the st. Thomas, Virgin Islands Post Office: They do not accept international mail, they are listed as IEOs. staff at these facilities present mail to the us. uu. customs and border protection (cbp) for inspection, as mail received from other iscs and other caribbean islands crosses an international border upon arrival in puerto rico or the virgin islands.

the postal service has not updated its policy governing the acceptance of incoming international mail due to changes in international mail acceptance operations at these facilities; therefore, this policy does not reflect current international mail acceptance operations. postal service management acknowledged that this policy is outdated. As a result, relying on an inaccurate and outdated policy can lead to operational inefficiencies.

We also noted during our observations at the san juan p&dc that cbp officers were unable to scan selected packages for further inspection in the postal service’s global commercial system (gbs) due to invalid login credentials provided by the postal service. cbp and postal service officials acknowledged that cbp officials should have access to gbs to scan and document packages held for inspection. When packages selected for inspection are not scanned and documented in GB in a timely manner, the postal service and customers may not have visibility into the location of their packages.

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Local standard operating procedures to outline appropriate access controls and procedures when the postal service coordinates with cbp could help mitigate potential access issues in san juan. Such standard operating procedures are being developed at each postal service facility (including San Juan P&DC) where mail is presented to CBP in accordance with a recent national memorandum of understanding (MOU). based on the planned development of a local memorandum of understanding at san juan p&dc, we will not make a recommendation for the postal service to develop local standard operating procedures in this report. however, we will continue to monitor this issue.

what the oig recommended

We recommend management update postal service policies governing facilities that accept incoming international mail and provide cbp officers with valid login credentials to access gbs.

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