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How does parcel delivery work?

Despite being a common process, the details of how a courier gets a package from A to B can be a little mysterious. So how exactly does the parcel delivery process work?

Parcel delivery steps

Courier collection

Once your parcel has been carefully packaged and labelled, it must be handed over to your chosen courier. Depending on the company, you can either arrange for it to be collected from your home/work address or deliver it yourself to a local drop off point.

Journey to the courier depot

Along with hundreds of other packages, your parcel will be taken to a local depot for sorting. At the depot the parcels are sorted by destination address, with packages destined for similar destinations grouped together.

Package is received at the destination hub

Your parcel is back on the move, on its way to the next depot, where it will be sorted once more. The second depot will be local to the destination.

Delivery driver collects the parcel

Delivery drivers are given specific routes based on the destination addresses of the packages they are assigned. Your package will be one stop of many.

Final mile and delivery

If the recipient is not available to accept the package, they will receive an attempted delivery card. The parcel may be left with a neighbour, receptionist or pre-assigned safe location. If not, delivery will be reattempted the following day.

Phone with GPS parcel tracking information on map

Tracking your package

If you’re expecting a delivery, waiting for it to arrive can be inconvenient. To help mitigate this issue, reputable couriers offer online tracking. This technology allows you to check where your parcel is at every stage of its journey.

Tracking services are aided by the unique barcode included on a shipping label. The barcode is scanned at every key point in the delivery process: from pick up, through to each depot stop off and final delivery. Time stamps are provided with each scan.

The information collected through multiple scans allows a courier to provide accurate delivery estimates to the recipient. This helps ensure they are present when the delivery arrives.

How does international shipping work?

International shipping works in a similar way to domestic delivery. At the first depot, all international parcels are separated and sent to a sorting hub. From there, international parcels are taken to the airport, where they are subjected to customs checks.

DHL package delivery transport plane tail insignia

During the customs procedure, each parcel is scanned and X-rayed. If officials suspect that a package contains prohibited items, they may open it to check the contents.

If you are sending a package outside of the EU, you will need to complete a customs form identifying exactly what it contains.

Having passed through customs, parcels are then loaded onto an aircraft. Depending on the route, packages will either travel in the hold of a regular passenger plane or a dedicated cargo plane.

More customs checks will be encountered on arrival at the destination airport. From here, the package will be sent to a local depot for further sorting. A local driver for the courier will then collect the item and deliver it to the final destination.

Brown cardboard box packaged for next day delivery with priority label

How does next-day parcel delivery work?

Occasionally you may need to send an urgent delivery. Next-day delivery is designed to solve this type of problem.

Next-day deliveries will be clearly marked to separate them from standard packages. They follow the same journey as a regular parcel, but are prioritised for quicker delivery.

As with standard deliveries, next-day parcels are also tracked at every step. This makes the process both quick and convenient.

At Impact Express we offer standard and express shipping to destinations across the globe. To take advantage of our competitive shipping rates, try out our online quote tool.

For more information about our parcel shipping services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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