Global mail volumes decrease as world grapples with COVID-19 pandemic

25.03.2020 - According to new data published by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the UN specialized agency for postal matters, measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in widespread disruptions to international postal services.

The UPU, which monitors international postal exchanges in real time, recorded a 10 percent drop in tonnage and a 15 percent drop in the number of postal items on the previous year during the period 23 January to 23 March, 2020. The period accounts for the first wave of measures taken by governments against COVID-19, beginning with the closure of Wuhan Airport on 23 January.

The decrease in volume amounts to at least 10,000 tons. Postal items weighing less than 2 kg saw the most significant drop, with a 13 percent decrease in tonnage and a 16 percent decrease in the number of items sent.

Though many countries consider Posts an essential service, and have allowed them to continue to operate despite countrywide lock-downs, the UPU has received notices from nearly 100 member countries in relation to the pandemic. The messages have signaled service disruptions related to measures taken to halt the spread of COVID-19, such as flight cancellations and social distancing. This has lengthened delivery times in some postal corridors and closed others altogether.

“It is unclear at present what impact the second wave of measures taken throughout February and March 2020 will have on future volumes as postal operators adjust to these new circumstances,” said UPU Communications Manager David Dadge.


The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. Established in 1874, it is one of the world’s oldest international organizations and is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.

Read the “Impact of COVID-19 on the Postal Sector” report here.


For further information, please contact:

David Dadge

Programme Manager, Communication and Events Programme

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Mobile: +41 76 457 36 54

Work: +41 31 350 31 23

Press release


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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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