COVID-19 frequently asked questions
Handling letters and packages
Are parcel deliveries delayed now, and if so, why?
Canadians should anticipate parcel delays for the foreseeable future, even as Canada Post delivers at record levels. As Canadians continue to ramp up and diversify their online shopping, Canada Post is responding to unprecedented parcel volumes while maintaining important physical distancing measures in all our facilities. Processing record parcel volumes in plants that were never designed to keep people 2 metres apart takes more time.
Canada Post is delivering in record numbers and also handling a wider variety of items, including bulky household items like patio furniture and barbecues. With parcel deliveries growing at a record pace from April to May, Canada Post hit an all-time, one-day record on Tuesday, May 19 with 2.1 million parcels delivered to Canadians. That’s roughly three times the norm for this time of year.
In response, we are processing and delivering on weekends and have additional support from trained temporary employees.
Why do I see my parcel taking an unusual route as I track it?
Some parcels may be transferred to other Canada Post locations for processing based on capacity. While this reduces delays, customers tracking their items may notice their parcel is taking a different route than normal.
How can I find out the status of my parcel shipment?
Customers should continue to track their parcels on our website or our mobile app for the latest information. It’s important to understand that our call centre agents are open to serve, but have no further details if your item is delayed and you are looking for a status update. A service ticket can be opened up online too.
What is happening with 'signature' items that normally require the recipient to sign for them, confirming receipt?
We understand some people are reluctant to sign for an item now, and we have adjusted our processes. Where possible, and to avoid contact, we will not ask customers for their signature at the door. Signature items will now be left at your address.
The same applies to customs items that have been prepaid in full online but still require a signature.
For Proof of Identity (POI), Proof of Age items, COD items and items with customs due, we will leave a delivery notice card (DNC) that directs you to a local post office for pick up.
Is it safe to handle mail and parcels?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have assured us the risk when handling mail, including international mail, is low.
According to the PHAC, there is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages. In general, because of poor survivability of coronaviruses on surfaces, there is a low risk of spread from products or packaging shipped over a period of days or weeks. Currently, there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted by imported goods or packages.
Can Canada Post search for specific items that are held, so they can be delivered?
Given the huge volume of mail and the challenge of locating individual items, it will not be possible for us to search for and deliver individual items for customers. However, customers who face hardship or other exceptional circumstances should call our customer care team at 1-877-683-5895.
Is Canada Post delivering passports?
Passports are now being received by Canada Post for delivery under a revised process developed with our partners at Immigration and Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Service Canada. We understand the importance of these items and have put in place a process that will maintain security expectations while keeping our people, and the community safe. With our continued Knock, Drop and Go delivery approach, we have eliminated customer interactions at the door to respect physical distancing.
These items will either be delivered to a secure location (i.e. their community mailbox, mail slot in the door) if possible, or the delivery employee will knock on the door, step back and wait to confirm that someone is home. If so, they will leave the item for the customer at a safe distance and leave. If no one is home, the item will be sent to the nearest post office for pickup by the customer the following day.
Are Community Mailboxes, other mail boxes and parcel lockers disinfected regularly?
The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have said that there is a low risk of COVID-19 spread from mail and packages. Likewise, the likelihood of surface contamination of mailboxes and parcel lockers is low. The surfaces of these kinds of mail receptacles are not considered frequently touched surfaces, so they are not disinfected regularly. When Canada Post employees deliver to a community mailbox or to a parcel locker, they do not touch the individual compartment door that a given customer uses to retrieve their mail or parcel. Instead, our employees use a master key to open the entire panel all at once.
Post office availability
Are post offices still open? What are you doing to help keep people safe?
We understand that people rely on their local post office. We are committed to serving Canadians while taking action to keep our people and our communities safe. We will continue to review and quickly adapt our approach with health and safety as our primary goal.
Post offices are open. In many post offices operated by Canada Post, we have reduced hours of service, opening one hour later and closing one hour earlier to clean, restock and provide some relief to employees. As well, for the first hour of each day, we offer priority service to those whom are at a higher risk (the elderly or people with compromised immune systems). Franchise operated post offices follow the measures put in place by franchise operators.
Social & Physical Distancing: We are asking waiting customers to please space themselves 2 metres (6 feet) apart. We are working on signage and floor decals for larger post offices. For smaller offices, we will look to limit the number of customers. We are also working on clear barriers for the counter to increase safety.
Transactions: We will continue to accept cash, but are encouraging customers to pay by using the “tap” function on their debit or credit cards where possible.
Parcel pick-up: Parcels left at the post-office for pickup will not be returned-to-sender until further notice. We’ve suspended our normal 15-day hold period. We ask that customers who are feeling ill or self-isolating, to please delay their visit to the post office and to pick up their parcel when it’s safe to do so.
How will I find out if my local post office has closed or is not keeping regular hours?
We understand the importance of our post offices and are working hard to serve our customers. As the current situation evolves, some post offices may close temporarily due to a number of factors. For example, the buildings they are located in may close temporarily, or for staffing reasons. We are monitoring this closely and will advise customers through door signage at any affected locations.
To find the nearest post office, go to canadapost.ca and enter your location in Find a Post Office. A map will display open post offices near you and this data is updated daily. Please note that the hours of some post offices may temporarily differ from the hours posted on our website due to the COVID-19 situation.
How long will Canada Post hold mail for schools, businesses, caregiving facilities and other institutions that have shut down or restricted access in response to the pandemic?
Since late March, Canada Post has been holding mail addressed to businesses and organizations that shut down or had restricted access due to COVID-19.
We offered the Hold Mail service for free when many businesses were closed and a large number of businesses signed up. By now, those needing the free Hold Mail service have signed up, and for businesses that remain closed, we will still hold mail if we cannot deliver it.
We are ending new sign-ups for free Hold Mail service as of August 1, 2020. However, businesses that have registered before August 1, 2020 – and still require the Hold Mail service – can continue to receive it for free. Any business that needs its Hold Mail service extended should do so before August 1, 2020. All Hold Mail service extensions and new sign-ups will be required to pay the full price as of August 1, 2020.
Any business planning to reopen before the expiry of its Hold Mail service should cancel the service online or with our Customer Service line at 1-877-262-5762. Mail delivery will resume on the business day following the cancellation.
Does Hold Mail apply only to mail or can parcels be held?
Hold Mail service applies to mail items but we will try to accommodate parcels to the extent that we can given the limited space in some of our facilities.
Can business customers request or continue using the Mail Forwarding service?
The Mail Forwarding service directs mail to a new address. For businesses operating from a new or temporary location, this service means mail delivery continues uninterrupted. Any mail that was held as part of a Hold Mail service will also be forwarded to the new address, provided the Hold Mail service expires after the start date of the Mail Forwarding service.
Since late March, Canada Post has been providing free Mail Forwarding service to businesses to help them during this challenging period.
We offered the Mail Forwarding service for free when many businesses were closed and a large number of businesses signed up. However, with businesses now reopening across the country, the number of them still using the free Mail Forwarding service has declined significantly.
We are ending new sign-ups for free Mail Forwarding as of August 1, 2020. However, businesses that have registered before August 1, 2020 – and still require the Mail Forwarding service – can continue to receive it for free. Any business that needs its Mail Forwarding service extended should do so before August 1, 2020. All Mail Forwarding service extensions and new sign-ups will be required to pay the full price as of August 1, 2020.
Any business planning to reopen before the expiry of its Mail Forwarding service should cancel the service online or with our Customer Service at 1-877-262-5762. Mail delivery will resume to the regular address on the business day following the cancellation.
International shipping changes
Is mail being delivered to the United States?
Mail and parcels destined to all regions of the U.S. continue to be delivered. However, Canada Post and our partner USPS are experiencing unprecedented volume across our networks. The increased volume combined with modified processes to protect employees and the public from the spread of COVID-19 are resulting in significant delays. The cumulative delays during processing in Canada and the U.S. are adding 5-7 days to normal delivery times for all services. Consumers and business shippers should consider the additional delivery time when making commitments to recipients in the United States.
Is mail being delivered to international destinations?
International mail and parcel services are severely impacted by the evolving COVID-19 situation. Many international postal operators have suspended mail operations and there is less air transportation available. Service is flowing to and from a select number of destinations but the situation is rapidly evolving. We regularly update our list of available international destinations on our Delivery service alerts page.
Is mail to international destinations delayed?
For destinations where service is still available, expect significant and unpredictable delays. Delays are the result of both limited air transportation and changes in how postal operators deliver. Like Canada Post, many international postal operators have introduced changes to eliminate customer interactions at the door and support physical distancing. These changes may delay delivery and signatures will not be available on some items.
Our goal is to continue providing timely and reliable service. But in light of the current challenges, we have suspended the On-time delivery guarantee for Xpresspost-International until further notice.
Are mail and packages from other countries being delivered to Canadians?
International mail and parcel services are severely impacted by the evolving COVID-19 situation. Many international postal operators are experiencing delays and some have suspended operations. However, Canada Post continues to deliver all mail and parcels once they arrive in Canada. If you have ordered something from abroad, you may experience a longer than normal waiting period. You can check the status of trackable postal items coming to Canada from an international sender here. If you need more information, please contact the sender.
Employee and workplace safety
Is Canada Post still practicing physical distancing on the street and in post offices?
Yes, and to keep our employees and customers safe, we continue to ask all Canadians to practice physical distancing while our employees are out delivering in the community, and when you visit a post office. You can read more here.
As well, if your business has arranged for parcel pickup, please place your items and paper work on the counter or in a location that allows you to back away in order for our employee to maintain a 2-metre distance from you or your staff.
We thank Canadians for their continued understanding and support for the measures we’ve put in place for everyone’s safety.
What is Canada Post doing to inform its employees about COVID-19?
Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees. We communicate daily to our employees about this issue. They are informed about the measure to protect themselves and others, such as hand washing, avoiding shaking hands and avoiding contact with others who show symptoms of respiratory illness. We have provided nitrile gloves to employees in processing facilities.
Is Canada Post disinfecting its workplaces?
We are taking sensible precautions. Our cleaning crews have increased frequency of cleaning of high-touch items such as door handles, light switches and table tops. When an employee has been at work prior to being put in self-isolation by public health, we have protocols to do a deep clean of the workstation and, if they used one, their corporate vehicle. If an employee who has been at work before being confirmed positive for COVID-19, we have protocols to sanitize the workplace and, if they used one, their corporate vehicle.
What is Canada Post doing if a physician or public health tells an employee to go into quarantine?
The health and safety of our employees and the public is our top priority. We take steps to initiate any on-site cleaning and sanitizing measures in the workplace. We also inform the local joint health and safety committee. We do not allow the employee to return to work until we have ensured, through Canada Life, that they are medically cleared to do so. To help with their peace of mind during such a difficult time, we offer the employee special leave so that they will continue to be paid.
What would Canada Post do if an employee, who was in the workplace, tests positive for COVID-19?
The safety of our employees and the public is our top priority. We would take steps to initiate any on-site cleaning and sanitizing measures in the workplace. We also inform the local joint health and safety committee. We do not allow the employee to return to work until we have ensured, through Canada Life, that they are medically cleared to do so. To help with their peace of mind during such a difficult time, we offer the employee special leave so that they will continue to be paid.
The employees team leader would also work with the provincial Public Health Authority on the additional required steps, such as contact tracing and implementing any necessary quarantine steps for co-workers, notifying customers and limiting access to the building.
What are you doing about employees who return from international travel (to any location) and are coming back to work?
We are following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines, that were in place when they returned. This means, all who returned to Canada as of March 14, we have been advising them to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days, to monitor their health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing and immediately isolate themselves from others and call public health or a healthcare professional if they have any symptoms.
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