As ecommerce becomes more global, shoppers are increasingly purchasing products from stores outside their home countries.
ePacket is a shipping service for packages sent from China and Hong Kong to over 40 countries. It’s designed to reduce delivery times and costs.
Staying updated on international shipping services like ePacket is important if you run an online store. Dropshipping businesses (such as those using AliExpress to source products) can use ePacket to compete with local stores’ customer service.
On the other hand, businesses dealing with local products can maintain a competitive advantage over China-based merchants by understanding what benefits ePacket brings.
Read on to learn how ePacket shipping works, find out about ePacket tracking, and get answers to common questions about ePacket delivery.
Table of contents
What is ePacket?
ePacket is an ecommerce shipping service that lets consumers receive their purchases faster and more affordably from online stores based in China and Hong Kong.
Launched in 2011, ePacket is offered by third-party logistics providers (3PL), allowing merchants on marketplaces such as AliExpress to provide fast and affordable shipping of lightweight packages.
Dropshipping businesses operating outside of China can use ePacket to compete with the delivery times of local manufacturers.
What is ePacket shipping?
As the “e” in its name implies, ePacket is a shipping and tracking service designed for ecommerce. It lets consumers receive small, lightweight purchases faster and more affordably from online stores and marketplaces that ship out of China and Hong Kong.
You may see ePacket offered as a shipping option by merchants in China on websites such as eBay, AliExpress, and Alibaba. But any merchant in China and Hong Kong can offer ePacket tracking if the package meets the requirements for an ePacket delivery.
The USPS has requirements for packages and parcels being sent with ePacket. The maximum length of a package is 24 inches (60 centimeters), and the total length, height, and thickness of packages cannot be more than 36 inches (90 centimeters). ePacket shipments must weigh less than 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms).
Additionally, merchandise can be worth no more than $400, and packages must be shipped from China or Hong Kong to one of the 44 eligible ePacket countries.
What is ePacket delivery?
ePacket delivery began as a quick, affordable shipping solution for Chinese merchants and merchants selling from Hong Kong to ship to the United States. Over the years, it has expanded to more than 40 other ePacket countries, including Canada, the UK, and Australia.
ePacket delivery to the final destination is handled by a local carrier that operates within the package’s destination country—USPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail, Japan Post, etc. Each local carrier has its own delivery processes, fees, and package requirements.
Who delivers ePacket?
ePacket delivery is handled by multiple partners in the fulfillment chain. First, the carrier in China or Hong Kong brings the package to the border and provides initial ePacket tracking. From there, it’s sent to the destination via an international carrier.
After crossing the border of its destination country, the package is picked up by a local carrier. The local carrier is responsible for delivering it to the destination address provided by your customer.
Does ePacket deliver to your door?
ePacket delivery only covers the journey to customs; it doesn’t guarantee a delivery window with the destination carrier, which is important for dropshipping businesses to remember. Many local carriers offer doorstep delivery once they’ve received the ePacket shipment, though some addresses cannot accept this service or may be out of the carrier’s range.
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Is there ePacket tracking?
Tracking and delivery confirmation is part of the ePacket shipping solution.
ePacket tracking gives customers end-to-end coverage at no additional cost. They can monitor and locate their packages on official websites such as USPS.
Undeliverable mail is also returned at no cost, which helps merchants refund customers who don’t receive their purchases.
How to track an ePacket
For customers who require ePacket tracking, there are a few ways to track an ePacket delivery. The first is to use the tracking tools on official postal service websites, China Post or USPS, depending on where your ePacket shipment is in transit.
However, it can be tricky to find official places to track an ePacket while it’s traveling through China. If you’re having a difficult time using official websites, you can track packages via third-party tracking services. A few popular options include:
The Parcels app website tracks ePackets across USPS and China Post EMS, translating any Chinese information into English and providing an estimated delivery time of your package.
Aftership is a simple parcel tracking website that provides delivery statuses for up to 50 ePacket tracking numbers at a time.
17Track is a Shopify app that merchants can use to allow their customers to track purchases. With 17Track, customers can track ePackets and receive email notifications triggered by their package status.
Order and ePacket tracking is beneficial because customers can self-serve and find out where exactly their package is and when to expect it. In turn, this reduces support inquiries about pending deliveries and improves the customer experience.
💡 Note: China EMS is a carrier and ePacket is a distinct shipping method.
Which countries support ePacket shipping and ePacket tracking?
As of September 2023, 44 countries support ePacket deliveries:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
How long does ePacket take to deliver from China to the US?
On average, ePacket shipping times to the US can take seven to 20 days to arrive from the date of shipment.
Other countries may see similar or slightly longer average shipping times. Around half that time is spent reaching the destination; the other half is spent being routed to the right facilities before making it to the destination country.
Shipping times can vary depending on the package's destination, customs, holidays, and other delays. But generally speaking, ePacket shipping offers more consistent average shipping times than other economical shipping options from China and Hong Kong.
While a multi-week shipping period can feel like a long time, ePacket packages are bulk processed and change hands several times before reaching their destination.
Fortunately, all of this can easily be monitored, thanks to the ePacket tracking service included with deliveries, giving customers confidence that their package is on the way.
How ePacket works on AliExpress
ePacket shipping should be front of mind when using Alibaba dropshipping or dropshipping products from AliExpress and deciding which ones to sell. ePacket shipping lets your customers receive their purchase in a reasonable timeframe, and track their orders while they wait.
It’s also the most consistent option for merchants and customers. Other shipping options may not be as reliable unless you consider more expensive shipping options from China and Hong Kong.
ePacket is generally a free or inexpensive shipping option. This allows store owners dropshipping with AliExpress to offer free shipping.
How do I know if my shipment is an ePacket delivery?
If ordering through AliExpress dropshipping, look under Orders and click View Detail.
If the package was shipped using ePacket, an ePacket tracking number should be listed under Logistics Information and International Shipping Company.
If you’re not purchasing on AliExpress, you can determine how your package was shipped by looking at the tracking number.
ePacket tracking numbers usually start with the letter “L.” If there is no ePacket tracking number, it’s likely the package was shipped using a different method.
Do customers need to pay customs/duties/taxes with ePacket shipping?
ePacket deliveries go through traditional customs clearances, which may require customers to pay applicable duties and taxes. Check your local laws to see when you need to pay duties and taxes on imported purchases, and for what kinds of items.
Ask the merchant shipping the item if any duties or taxes are owed on arrival. They might be experienced in shipping to your country and better understand whether duties and taxes will be owed.
Ultimately, what’s the benefit of the ePacket service?
If you ship locally, your competitive advantage will always be the speed of delivery. Some customers won’t tolerate a multiple-week wait for products to arrive.
While ePacket doesn’t make shipments from China and Hong Kong as fast as local deliveries, it significantly reduces the gap.
Compared to other shipping services from China, ePacket also provides:
- Customs clearance. ePacket shares China Post’s customs clearance, so it guarantees speed.
- Fast shipping speeds. ePacket is faster and cheaper than China Post Air Mail. You can also return packages for free.
- Tracking. ePacket tracking and delivery confirmation are included.
- Transparent pricing. No hidden fees, which is uncommon when working with cross-border ecommerce companies.
Read: Read the definitive guide to dropshipping with AliExpress.
How to use ePacket dropshipping on Shopify
ePacket is ideal for Shopify merchants that sell low-to-medium value items and want to save money on shipping costs from China. Packages typically take seven to 20 days to arrive when using ePacket on Shopify. Ensure you’ve opted for ePacket delivery with your supplier to set it up for your store.
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ePacket shipping and tracking FAQ
What does ePacket shipping mean?
ePacket is a fast, low-cost global shipping service for small ecommerce packages from China and Hong Kong. ePacket lets customers in 44 countries receive their purchases faster and more affordably from online stores.
How long does it take for an ePacket to be delivered?
ePacket parcels are usually delivered in less than 30 days. Based on reviews, it typically takes seven to 10 days to make a delivery. ePacket deliveries are generally free or low-cost.
Is there ePacket tracking for customers?
ePacket delivery allows customers to track their orders end to end without additional costs. You can track ePackets on official websites like EMS and USPS with a tracking code.
Is ePacket shipped by air?
ePacket is typically faster than other shipping methods from China because it’s air shipping. Historically, packages from China were delivered by sea in containers without any tracking options.