not on facebook

Understanding International Mail (GB LALA)

05 Mar 2019, 10:51


There is a lot of talk from customers regarding post that is hanging around at customs, asking when it will be delivered (string) and if there's tax (ought to know).
What there isn't really is a clear explanation of how the post works, coming into the UK.

Forgive my ignorance. Langley HWDC / GB LALA was opened a little after I left the postal service, so I am not clued in on how the scanning of post and parcels works.

Reading the replies to customer queries by ScottishTerrier and SnaggleTooth, among others, plus information from the RM website, I'm left a little confused as to the times when post is scanned.
In some replies, it's said that post isn't scanned as being at GB LALA until it is handed over to the network from customs. Others imply that it is scanned on receipt at customs and so might show being at GB LALA for the duration of inspections or until the backlog is clear.
RM website says somewhere that regular post is scanned twice - once on receipt (on entering network in UK, guessing when handed by customs) and again when delivered.

It'd be good to get that straight in my head and perhaps it will help the many people who come here to look for answers.

There was some post where a lookup of the tracking number states it is on the way to the UK, from the EU - has left the country of origin.
Tracking reports it's way for a week, so I am guessing that it arrived a day or so after it left and has either been sitting in a backlog waiting to be scanned as arriving in the UK, or is awaiting or in the process of further customs checks.
Or perhaps came over land and sea, instead of being sent airmail, and took a week to cross the Channel, which seems unlikely to me.

I hate getting tracking numbers, as it means I check them after a week and think too much about what's going on - instead of simply being patient and trusting as usual that the post will come through one day, when it does!
Can understand why people might get impatient and start to worry about their post going missing, when they can check on their telephones every few hours expecting some further movement to be reported.

I suppose really what I am trying to find is some confirmation that the post is scanned as being in GB LALA when it is passed from customs and enters the UK network, or if the post is scanned as it is received by customs at Langley distro. centre, as this is unclear to me (and it seems many people who write to this website).

Thanks in advance.

Understanding International Mail (GB LALA)

05 Mar 2019, 11:02

Only items from a very small list of countries get scanned when they enter the country, in general items only get scanned once customs have released them to Royal Mail

Understanding International Mail (GB LALA)

05 Mar 2019, 12:27

Thanks for the reply, SpacePhoenix.

So, the post will show as "in transit" to the UK until it has passed through customs checks (similar to people, who aren't in the UK until they clear immigration at an [air]port).
After which I imagine it will head straight to Mount Pleasant / Longford processing in London or somewhere to be forwarded to more local sorting for delivery.

When I look at the tracking numbers here, the foreign carriers usually report an item is at Heathrow / GB LALA, and people seem to think this means their post is held up at customs.
If the RM track and trace service is up for that post, then it will say it has been received at Langley HWDC, also.
The track17 site that people mention also will show this.
But there are a few websites that will gather information from all these different carrier sites, such as - and this site will sometimes show, when the others say, "received at Langley / GB LALA", that a few minutes later the post has "arrived at sorting centre".

I think the confusion that takes place is between these messages, if the sorting centre one shows up at all.
If it's as you say and the post isn't scanned until it has been processed customs, then it makes sense that the item will say it is on the way to the UK until it is passed on into the RM network and scanned there.

The message after the "in transit to destination country [UK]" says, "received at Langley / GB LALA" - This seems mean that it has been received by Royal Mail at Langley, and not that customs at Langley have received it.
The post is being handed over from customs when this scan is made by RM.

This will be why there is some discrepancy between all these tracking sites and what causes the misunderstanding, I think.

Looking at some of the more recent tracking numbers here, the track17 site that people use does seem to only use the country of origin tracking rather than Royal Mail, and there is often no note, a short while after, to say the item is scanned at sorting / processing, which the parcelmonitor one has listed for most items.

So, if an item that isn't being sent from the very small list of countries that are scanned on entering the country at the start of the customs check returns that it is "on it's way to UK", then it is (after reasonable time in transit) likely held in the customs backlog until the GB LALA one shows up.
When there is the message, "received at Langley GB-LALA", then it is received by Royal Mail at Langley to go wherever, and any further hold up will be because there is a backlog here too, or the post needs to be processed for the duty that is due to be paid before it can be loaded for further transit to local sorting and delivery, who will also need to take it aside because of the duty.

The tracking numbers are really to give proof that the items have been posted, that it has been signed and delivered, and not really to provide indication of when it will arrive.

In most instances where the carrier in the other country, RM track and trace and the track17 website say it is "received at GB LALA", the parcel monitor one will say straight after, "arrived at sorting centre".

Clearing up that post is scanned on that when it is received by Royal Mail at GB LALA from customs and not by customs at GB LALA (except in a very few instances) at that point might put minds at ease that the post is making its way to the letterbox.

In my experience, from the EU, it can take 5-7 working days (up to two weeks) for post to reach the sorting centre, and international might be 21 working days (up to a month).
Although sometimes it can be only 2-3 days for EU and a 5-7 for non-EU. Not sure how brexit will affect this over the next few months.

After it's at the sorting centre, it is usually only a few days before there's a knock at the door unless it is a busy time or there is a backlog or duty to be paid.

Understanding International Mail (GB LALA)

05 Mar 2019, 12:27

eh, why does it say I'm female?!
Have to get that changed!

Understanding International Mail (GB LALA)

05 Mar 2019, 19:59

On duty, the item doesn’t hang around customs waiting for the duty to be paid. That happens at the RM delivery office. But I suspect that items with duty to pay do take a bit longer to clear customs on average.

Previous page Next page

Page 1 of 1