How long does the post take to arrive?

A normal letter can take up to eight weeks to arrive in Russia, Ukraine etc. This is normally put down to the dire inefficiencies of the post Soviet postal systems in these countries.

Most of the letters that I sent took four to six weeks to arrive.

However, a few times, for items that needed to arrive faster, I used a priority service at the German post office. This is just like the normal post except that you pay an additional ten marks (approx five US dollars) and the German post office promises to expedite the letter from there to the Russian postal system.

Every time that I used this method, I was warned by the staff in the post office that the extra payment was for the letter to reach (say) Russia and not for onward delivery inside the destination country.

However, every single letter that I sent this way took from eight to ten days to arrive. Now why should that be? Three explanations occur to me. Perhaps it takes the German postal system between two and seven weeks to get a letter into Russia normally or perhaps the Russian postal service tries to speed up the handling of letters which are marked priority. The last possibility is that the extra payment gets the letter delivered to the destination city in Russia rather than just to a single office in Moscow.

Whatever the reason, it clearly works and it costs a lot less to use this method than to pay for courier delivery. I'd seriously suggest that you try this option if there is one like it in your country. If you do, please email me so that I can update these pages with the information.

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