The ultimate Guide to ePacket shipping to the UK (2022)

Joe Romeo6 minutes
The ultimate Guide to ePacket shipping to the UK (2022)
In this article

ePacket shipping has taken the eCommerce world by storm in recent years and has particularly impacted businesses in the United Kingdom by offering fast and cheap shipping from China. In days long past, it used to be that there was no other way around shipping than making huge bulk orders in a bid to make the most from your expensive shipping costs. Then, you had to wait weeks, or even months, for your goods to arrive.

But not anymore. The nature of eCommerce has had a direct impact on shipping options around the world. Now, for smaller packages, ePacket shipping is available.

In this article, we explore what ePacket shipping is, how it works, and its benefits for e-commerce businesses like yours.

What is ePacket shipping?

ePacket shipping is a shipping method offered by third-party logistic providers (3PL) which enables merchants to ship light packages in a fast and cost-effective way.

Created in 2011 as an alternative shipping option for small, inexpensive items, it was designed in a bid to optimise logistics between China and the US. Since then, ePacket delivery has expanded to 44 countries—including expanding this connection to the United Kingdom.

ePacket is a shipping option that’s designed to be a quick, cost-effective solution for small, lighter packages. It provides you with online tracking—typically reserved for larger items—so you can see exactly where your product is in the supply chain. You’ll usually see ePacket as a shipping option on platforms like eBay and Aliexpress.

How ePacket shipping works

When you choose ePacket delivery as your shipping method, there are a number of steps involved. ePacket delivery is effectively a term for the end-to-end process. 

When it ships, your parcel will be sent from the merchant directly. Your parcel will be shipped internally within China or Hong Kong by their local carrier, which then changes hands and is sent to the United Kingdom by an international carrier.

When it arrives in the UK it’s then handled by a local carrier.

But what makes it really valuable is the tracking ability that comes with the ePacket service.

Avoid sneaky fees and increase your margins with Airwallex

ePacket Tracking

ePacket tracking is easy; every delivery comes with a free self-serve tracking number. This can be tracked using any country’s domestic mail carrier. You can track your client's packages from a site like EMS.

This allows you to track and monitor, and eagerly await the arrival of your package throughout its entire journey, start to finish. 

This tracking method provides you with updates on estimated arrival times and works to reduce customer queries and questions to the merchant around delayed packages. Also, if your package is undeliverable, it gets returned to the sender free of charge. This makes it a no-risk option for merchants when a customer requests a refund for a lost parcel.

How to track an ePacket

To track your ePacket, simply login to EMS, Worldwide Express Mail Service, or the China Post website, and select the available tracking option. Then, input your ePacket tracking number to find out where your parcel is. 

You can also access third-party tracking tools if these sites aren’t working for you.

ePacket package dimension and weight restrictions

ePacket delivery is designed for smaller parcels, so it comes with some strict guidelines.

Size - standard

  • Min. length: 14cm

  • Min. width: 9cm

  • Max. length: 60cm

  • Max. total length + height + thickness: 90cm

Size - rolled packages

If you’re sending a rolled package, so things like cloth samples or posters, different dimensions apply.

  • Min. length: 11cm

  • Max. length: 90cm OR (diameter x 2) + length <104cm


  • Max. weight: 2kg

Note that this includes the packaging itself, not just the item.


The total value of the goods within your ePacket cannot exceed £135 without exposing the customer to taxes and fees.

What are the benefits of using ePacket tracking and shipping?

ePacket shipping was created to meet the needs of eCommerce merchants. It’s ideal for smaller packages—which makes it perfect for dropshipping businesses. 

Here are some of the key benefits you’ll enjoy with ePacket tracking and delivery.

It’s quicker

We’ve all been there. You order something online, and by the time it actually arrives it’s been so long that you forgot about it. ePacket shipping provides a faster delivery time, usually within 20 days. While this doesn’t match up to the platforms offering next-day delivery, three weeks for international postage isn’t bad.

It’s cheaper

ePacket shipping provides lower shipping rates than traditional shipping, so you’re able to offer better prices to your customers, which directly acts as an incentive. How many times have you gone to buy something online but the shipping turned you away?

You can also use our free break-even analysis tool to help you analyse your business costs and improve margins.

You get free returns on undeliverable packages

It’s not your fault if your customer gives you an incorrect address, so you shouldn’t be penalised for it. ePacket delivery provides you with the security that any incorrectly-labelled items are returned, at no extra cost to you. This makes it a low-risk method of shipping, with the added bonus that you can provide a full refund to that customer, with no out-of-pocket expenses incurred on your end.

You get end-to-end tracking

You and your customers are able to see exactly where your package is at every step. No more waiting around wondering, simply log on to the EMS website and punch in the tracking number to see where it’s at.

You get peace of mind

With free returns, tracking, and a faster turnaround, one of the huge benefits of ePacket delivery is the peace of mind you get. You can buy something from a vendor, and you’re able to use the tracking to make sure they actually post it. No more worrying that you’ve been scammed, no wondering when, or even if, it will be posted. 

How long does ePacket take to deliver to the UK?

The average ePacket delivery time to the United Kingdom is between 6 to 11 business days. However, especially in a post-pandemic world, expect delays around holidays and peak periods. Other countries may see similar or slightly longer shipping times, depending on transit routes. It's always best to notify your customer of potential delays ahead of time to avoid misleading them and therefore providing a negative purchasing experience.

Customs and taxes for ePacket delivery

All goods arriving in the United Kingdom via post or mail are considered imported goods and get screened by UK Customs. The customer will either be contacted by Royal Mail, or the courier company completing the delivery if they need to pay any VAT, duty or delivery charges. Generally, if the goods are valued at £135 or less, unless they're gifts worth more than  £39 or excise goods (for example, alcohol and tobacco).

VAT however is charged on all goods (except gifts worth £39 or less which are sent from outside the UK to Great Britain, or from outside the Uk and the EU to Northern Ireland. You can view more information on charges regarding VAT via GOV.UK.

But to be sure, we recommend asking your vendor or merchant if they’re aware of any taxes or duties for sending to customers in the United Kingdom.

China Post EMS ePacket tracking statuses

China Post EMS also uses its own status codes to display the current stage of delivery for individual ePacket deliveries. Keep this guide handy if your customers query the location of their package.


- Posting

- Despatch from Sorting Center

- Arrival at Sorting Center

- Arrival at delivery office

- Handed over to Customs

- Released from Customs

- Paying Tax

- Returned to Shipper

- Customs Released

- Delivery

- Held by Customs

- Delivery arranged

- Returned to Sender

- Attempted delivery

- Customs Declaration

- Hand over to airline

- Arrive at facility

- Depart from facility

- Export

- Outbound in sorting center

- Arrived at facility

- Inbound in sorting center

- Accepted by carrier

- Waiting for pick up

- Shipment confirmation

- Send item to customs (Inb)

- Receive item at office of exchange (Inb)

- Send item abroad (EDI-received)

- The item was forwarded to the destination country (Otb)

- Receive item from customer (Otb)

ePacket Countries

There are currently 44 countries that support ePacket shipping, including:

  1. Australia

  2. Austria

  3. Belgium

  4. Brazil

  5. Canada

  6. Croatia

  7. Denmark

  8. Estonia

  9. Finland

  10. France

  11. Germany

  12. Gibraltar

  13. Great Britain

  14. Greece

  15. Hong Kong

  16. Hungary

  17. Ireland

  18. Israel

  19. Italy

  20. Japan

  21. Latvia

  22. Lithuania

  23. Luxembourg

  24. Malaysia

  25. Malta

  26. Mexico

  27. Netherlands

  28. New Zealand

  29. Norway

  30. Poland

  31. Portugal

  32. Russia

  33. Saudi Arabia

  34. Singapore

  35. Spain

  36. South Korea

  37. Sweden

  38. Switzerland

  39. Thailand

  40. Turkey

  41. Ukraine

  42. United Kingdom

  43. United States

  44. Vietnam

Airwallex makes e-commerce easy

While Airwallex doesn’t have any specific affiliation with ePacket shipping, we are doing everything we can to simplify how you manage your eCommerce business' finance by providing a purpose-built eCommerce business account. With a range of tools and products designed for paying your suppliers to accepting payments in USD from Amazon, you can focus on expanding your sales while also keeping costs down.

Speak with a specialist today to see how we can help your e-commerce business succeed.

Get the business account built for growth, with Airwallex

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Joe Romeo
Senior Growth Marketing Manager

Joe Romeo is responsible for scaling our Airwallex's product adoption in the UK and the world. An all-around growth enthusiast, Joe's speciality lies in SEO, organic acquisition and making lasagna.

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