Experiment: Delivery Times from USA to Russia via intermediary methods

This experiment was inspired by and is related to a previous post regarding fellow users wanting to (successfully) send cards to Russia.

Having made countless positive connections in my tenure with this WILD PostCrossing project, I’ve definitely felt a void for some time now given, in my opinion, some of the best cards I’ve ever received came from Russian Postcrossers (woot woot)!!! Having said that, this is perhaps personal bias. From a point of practicality,why Russia? Well, while there are several other countries USA is not currently sending mail to, USA and Russia are currently ranked #1 and #3 in terms of total membership (respectively). It’s reasonable to infer that the current inability for cards to travel directly from #3 to #1 represents one of the larger potential number of affected Postcrossers. Trying to control for the myriad variables between and within respective other countries might be a true fool’s errand! Therefore, I would suspect the findings of this small experiment to be generalizable onto other countries to varying degrees (e.g., probably most accurate for cards from USA to Belarus also, but far less than from USA to Sudan, Syria, and/or perhaps Yemen) Therefore, for these purposes of practicality, I’ve chose to test only alternative methods in sending cards from USA to Russia.

I’ll state up-front (and hopefully have to state only once) that this experiment is in no way a political statement or position on global affairs, but rather simply a test of alternative (indirect) or “intermediary” methods of sending mail from USA to Russia. If you feel moved to engage in discussion or express commentary extending beyond the subject of the experiment, I kindly ask you do so via direct message! My intention was to adequately document my approach, experiences, observations, and outcomes so that others may benefit from and, if desired, take these learnings into consideration should one desire to send mail to a country not currently receiving mail from one’s home country (shameless plug for new Postcrossers to always check the POSTAL MONITOR when searching for and initiating direct swaps!)

Today I decided to execute a simple rapid experiment aimed at evaluating the successful rates of delivery of alternative methods of sending cards to other (restricted) countries. In addition, when successfully delivered, I’m hoping to gain a rough estimate of total travel time between the SEND date (1/8/2024) and each recipient’s “RECEIVED” date (Total # of Days).

⦁ A smaller subset of Postcrossers have expressed attempts (and success!) in mailing postcards and envelopes to Russia from USA via intermediary methods, namely by mailing cards in an envelope to other Postcrossers (typically located in such countries as United Kingdom or Germany) and users in such countries agreeing to forward mail along to Russia via Royal Mail, DeutchPost, etc. This is the method I have personally been using with reasonably high delivery rates, although with typical travel times from USA to Germany (1 - 2 weeks) then from Germany to Russia (3 - 6 weeks), totaling 4 - 8 weeks

⦁ Other users (such as my guy James / @uconn ) have been utilizing United Nations (Geneva) to send along cards to various countries, including Russia. This method hasn’t personally worked for me (yet) but I’m hoping that my luck changes. It involves placing an order through United Nations Post (https://unstamps.org/), and forwarding cards to one of three UN mailing locations (well, two UN mailing locations, as UN New York utilizes USPS, which doesn’t currently deliver to Russia at present). If only I had known this all along, I might not have (potentially) wasted a good share of UN (USA) stamps :confounded:

Today (January 8, 2024) I sent off the following from USA:

⦁ A single envelope containing postcards (each stamped with DeutchPost stamps) along to a fellow user in Germany who as agreed to drop off the stamped cards into DeutchPost dropbox located in a major German city, addressed to seven (7) different Russian Postcrossers

 **CARD #1 to @Xute arrived Feb. 3 (27 days)**
 **ENVELOPE to @pltlc arrived Feb. 13 (37 days)**

⦁ Three postcards in envelope destined for United Nations (Vienna - Austria), addressed to three different Russian Postcrossers. In addition, one card was addressed to myself back here in the USA.

 **CARD #1 Arrived to @pltlch Feb. 13 (36 days)**

⦁ Three postcards in envelope destined for United Nations (Geneva - Switzerland), addressed to three different Russian Postcrossers (the same recipients as above in the envelope to Vienna, and included in the envelope to my German friend). In addition, one card was addressed to myself back here in the USA.

 **CARD #1 arrived to @pltlch Feb. 13 (36 days)**
 **CARD #2 arrived to me on Feb. 21 (44 days)**

Realizing this may semantically get confusing, the same three Russian Postcrossers can expect to receive three cards from me, all from varying locations (Via Germany, UN Austria, and UN Switzerland). I have / had more German stamps than I have UN Vienna / Geneva stamps, which is why more cards were sent via Germany.

I will update this post as events develop / edit the post with permissions from the expected recipients. I wanted to respect each person’s privacy, so at the time of the original post they were intentionally unidentified. Each Postcrosser has blessed me with identifying them in this post, and are @pltlch , @Xute , & @Olegovich . My sincere thanks to each of these three friends in agreeing to participate in this small experiment. On a more personal note, my sincere appreciation for these three folks for their cards over the past year(s) - these folks always follow through on their swap commitments, and continue to engage in thoughtful, meaningful, and spirited conversations.

—Update 1/23/24—

To Russia via Netherlands intermediary:

CARD #1
SENT: 1/16/24
RECEIVED IN NETHERLANDS: 1/23/24
SENT TO RUSSIA: 1/23/24
RECEIVED: by @pltlch on Feb. 21 29 Days

CARD #2
SENT: 1/16/24
RECEIVED IN NETHERLANDS: 1/23/24
SENT TO RUSSIA: 1/23/24
RECEIVED:

—UPDATE 1/26/24—

Sent an envelope with several cards to @mike12 using the “Via Germany” route today.

Sent: Jan 24, 2024
Received: Feb. 19, 2024 (26 Days)

—UPDATE: 1/30/2024—

Today I have addressed an additional four envelopes to one single user (@pltlch) covering the four following scenarios:

  1. USA to Russia (direct) SUCCESS
    SENT: Jan. 9, 2024
    RECEIVED: Jan. 30, 2024
    TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 21 DAYS

  2. USA to Russia (with “VIA GERMANY” added below addressee) SUCCESS
    SENT: Jan. 9, 2024
    RECEIVED: Feb. 13, 2024
    TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 35 DAYS

  3. USA to Russia (with “VIA UNITED KINGDOM” added below addressee) SUCCESS
    SENT: Jan. 9, 2024
    RECEIVED: Feb. 21, 2024
    TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 43 DAYS

  4. Canada to Russia (direct)
    SENT:1/20/24 (Windsor, ON, Canada)
    RECEIVED:

I chose envelopes so as to more easily add my return address. I also selected a single user because - hey man, postage is getting expensive! At a certain point, the experiment is to be as practical as I can make it, otherwise there would continue to be additional variables to account for (and which I’m not, at present, ready to take on!)

I hypothesize that each envelope will either not be delivered or will be returned to me (null hypothesis). With full transparency here, of course I hope null hypothesis is incorrect!


Feb 26, 2024 UPDATE

@Angelthepup22 was generous and kind to offer up some Royal Mail stamps for purposes of sending via UK. Today, an envelope containing several cards (2x Russia, 2x United States) was mailed out to Royal Mail special postmarks in London. I will update below as they are delivered. Since the first stop is from USA to UK via non-postcrossing user, the length of the first leg of the trip will be unknown.

CARD #1: USA to UK to USA
DATE SENT: Feb. 26, 2024
DATE RECEIVED:

CARD #2: USA to UK to USA
DATE SENT: Feb. 26, 2024
DATE RECEIVED:

CARD #3: USA to UK to Russia
DATE SENT: Feb. 26, 2024
DATE RECEIVED:

CARD #4: USA to UK to Russia
DATE SENT: Feb. 26, 2024
DATE RECEIVED:

28 Likes

Interesting
I have been forwarding mail from USA to Russia via UK
So far there have been no failures but timings do vary
1/USA to UK travel times - huge variation and slowest it has been in my time postcrossing
2/UK to Russia - I suspect a bag full gets put on a plane when adequate volume collated so affected by whether you just catch or miss a plane. Probably by 2 weeks or more.
Once in Russia location is ķey - Moscow fast St Petersburg ok East Coast much slower
I look forward to learning how you get on

6 Likes

I tried forwarding mail from USA to Russia via China mainland and Canada, they both worked

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How did you manage to forward mail from the US via Canada taking into account that Canada doesn’t send to Russia at the moment?

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they do, I have friends in Canada,a Chinese live in the Canada

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Postal monitor says the opposite, though. That’s really interesting.
Was it direct mail from Canada to Russia?

No, I sent from USA, but forwarded by Canada.

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I got it from your previous message. I was particularly interested in the second segment (Canada - Russia). Thank you for your reply with an explanation :blush:

yep, my friend tried, it works, direct send from Canada

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Looks like “survivor’s mistake” but still it’s amazing :grinning:

Perhaps I will also try sending directly from both USA (Detroit) and Canada (Windsor, Ontario) this weekend. I’ve seen a few posts here and there claiming that some mail has recently made it through, but I’m unsure if it was a fluke or not.

Once again, stay tuned!

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I have updated the original post to include a test of both direct mail from USA and Canada, as well as both the “VIA GERMANY” and “VIA UNITED KINGDOM” scenarios. Much appreciation for the ideas thus far, and additional kudos to @pltlch , @Xute , and @Olegovich !

5 Likes

Thats weird as I have been forwarding mail from Canada to Russia via UK

I mailed a postcard to a user in Russia around the middle of October. It was before I was active in the forums and didn’t realize that Russia was on the postal monitor list, since I had received cards from Russia.

Today I received a message from said Post Crosser that my postcard did reach them. That’s a long travel time but I am thankful it arrived.

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@Twade I’m curious - you say it was before you were active in the forums, but was the card you mailed a swap, or an official (registered) card?

@kissthebeehive I received a particularly thoughtful card from a user (an official card) and I offered to send one back as a thank you. They sent their address and I mailed it out. I didn’t even think to look if I was able to send it because I had received a few cards from Russia and assumed I could reciprocate.

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Relatedly, two cards I had previously sent to Germany a while back (prior to the experiment) arrive to their Russian destinations successfully today!!

Что мне принес Почтальон Печкин? - #3754 by Dashushty. (You may need to translate the page)

The other card to @Anita_Ko (not shown) was delivered to Crimea, sent from USA back in November.

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Translation (per Google Translate):
I had a very stressful day today. But when I came home, I saw that I had received a postcard from the USA from @kissthebeehivespeech_balloon. It was sent not directly, but through Germany (first to Germany in an envelope, then from there in the usual way to Russia). I am so glad!! This is my first postcard in the USA and how much it made me happy after a hard day. Thank you one more time, Ryan!

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Sent off two cards destined for Russia today via Netherlands first! One to @Anita_Ko and another to @pltlch. More to come!

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I have just received two cards from the US via Germany through tags! :pray::hugs:

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