What is Global Bulk Economy (GBE)?

Global Bulk Economy (GBE) is an economical surface mail delivery service offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Global Bulk Economy mail is carried by ocean vessels from the United States to the countries of destination.  On arrival, mail is entered into the local postal system’s economy mail network for delivery.

Global Bulk Economy is worth considering in cases where speed of delivery is not important, and cost is the driving factor.  GBE averages 3 – 9 weeks worldwide.

What is an Extraterritorial Office of Exchange (ETOE)?

An Extraterritorial Office of Exchange (ETOE) is a facility belonging to a postal operator outside its national territory on the territory of another country.  There are ETOE’s in the United States belonging to Deutsche Post (Germany), New Zealand Post, Sweden Post, Swiss Post (Switzerland), and Emirates Post (UAE).

The U.S. Department of State regulates the operation of ETOE’s in the United States.

An ETOE may serve the needs of the postal operator to which it belongs by acting on either inbound or outbound shipments of mail to/from the country in which it is located.

Commercially, an ETOE will typically assist the foreign postal operator in gaining postal revenue from businesses and other senders of mail from the territory in which it is located.  For this reason, ETOE’s are usually seen as competing with the local postal administration.

What is Direct Entry?

Direct Entry is a term that was first used in the 1980s, when companies began shipping mail intended for a particular country directly to that country (either via air, sea, or land), and then entering the mail into the local postal system for delivery.  Postage was paid at the local (domestic) rate, with stamps or postage-paid impressions affixed to the mail.

The combination of freight (air, sea, or land) from the country of origin to the country of destination — plus the cost of domestic postage — was often less than the cost of international postage from the originating country.  And because the mail was entered into the local mailstream and properly sorted, delivery and reliability was improved.

Direct Entry is still widely in use.  It can provide improved delivery because transit times can be carefully monitored, and because mail is sorted to the requirements of the receiving (foreign) postal administration.  (In contrast, mail sent through the international mailstream is not sorted to the requirements of the receiving postal administration.)

For Direct Entry to be cost-efficient, the international mailing company must have substantial volumes of mail for the intended receiving countries.

Direct Entry should not be confused with Direct Injection, which came about later and requires less effort on the part of the international mailing company.

What is ISAL?

ISAL (an acronym for International Surface Air Lift) is an international bulk mailing service offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

ISAL was begun in the 1970’s. The publisher McGraw-Hill was highly instrumental in helping bring about ISAL service. McGraw-Hill was interested in finding a way to reduce the time it took for publishers periodicals to be delivered to their destinations via surface mail. McGraw-Hill proposed that the USPS airlift surface mail to its destination, rather than send it by sea. The result was a hybrid “air/surface” delivery system that was called ISAL.

Early ISAL service did not fly directly from the United States to every country of destination; most mail destined to Europe, for example, was flown to Brussels and sent onward from there, sometimes via truck or rail.

Few mailers could take advantage of ISAL when it was first introduced, as the USPS imposed strict minimum shipment size requirements. In the 1980’s, an industry emerged with companies that offered an “ISAL consolidation” service. This led the way for smaller mailers to use the service; the consolidators charged a premium over the USPS rates.

Today, ISAL is a popular international bulk mailing service. Other postal administrations offer international mailing services that compete with ISAL. Some of these, including other mailing methods such as direct-entry, are less expensive than ISAL.

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What is a Foreign Mail Consolidator?

A foreign mail consolidator is a company that gathers or collects foreign mail from many small senders of mail, for the purpose of offering a lower postage rate than the small senders could otherwise negotiate on their own.

Foreign mail consolidators provide a valuable service, however they can vary widely in the number of services they offer, the modes of delivery they utilize, their experience, and their reliability.

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What is Foreign Mail?

The term “foreign mail” refers to any item of mail which is intended for delivery to another country. So if you live and work in the United States, for example, foreign mail could mean a letter addressed to Canada, a parcel addressed to Australia, a magazine addressed to France… and so on.

Any piece of mail destined for delivery outside of the country in which it originated is typically described as foreign mail.

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