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WHAT TO EXPECT IN INTERNATIONAL MAILING AND SHIPPING IN 2022… AND BEYOND

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BY MERRY LAW

ith more than 220 countries and territories across the globe, changes are inevitable. Laws and regulations constantly change, and new ones are often enacted. The last few years brought many changes, and the changes will continue. Technology will continue to create other advancements. As we look at what is, and might be, coming in the next few years, keep in mind that each country and territory has its own unique laws and regulations, even within trade blocks like the EU. Technological Advancements in Addressing and Routing Logistics Technology is creating changes in addressing and in routing logistics as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) link a unique identifier to an individual and to one or more geographic locations for delivery. Recently, mobile telephone numbers and numeric personal postal IDs have

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been introduced as postal addresses in sub-Saharan African and other countries. Other countries are interested in this development. The complete address is the addressee’s name and the town of the local post office. Mailers should prepare for these, and other unusual, addresses. Whether the US and other countries will accept these addresses as sufficient to meet requirements for “know your customer” and export compliance regulations is untested, and current or future privacy regulation conflicts are unknown. PUDO (pick up, drop off) points and parcel locker IDs used as addresses can present the same challenges. The same GIS-enabled database can be used for routing with precise and up-to-date maps. That allows for more dynamic routes, which are more timeand fuel-efficient. The disadvantage of dynamic routes is they are not familiar to the person making the deliveries, an advantage of fixed routes. The solution between the dynamic and fixed routes may lie with autonomous vehicles, with the route (and “driving”) being handled by the technological side, and a person

handling the actual deliveries. More autonomous vehicles will be on the roads in the middle mile, but not in populated areas. Arial drones are unlikely to be used in populated areas, but are already being used in the middle mile and in deliveries to sparsely populated areas. More of this will be seen going forward, but will require changes to laws. Gig delivery is being tested for the final mile in many areas. It’s likely to work well in some places but fail in others. Gig delivery is used in some developing countries for the middle mile where, for example, a trucker will take packages for local residents to be picked up at a general store along with a delivery of goods. That model of sending packages closer to their final destinations may have some applications for moving packages internationally into the destination country or region when sending smaller volumes. Tracking, Returns, and Increased Scrutiny International tracking and returns remain problematic. Both are currently dependent on people — delivery agents or customers. Tracking is not yet fully automated, and