Postal Updates

Royal Mail resumes export of international mail

Jan 19, 2023, 10 AM

By David Hartwig

On Jan. 18 Great Britain’s Royal Mail resumed the export of international mail that does not require a customs declaration, the postal agency announced Jan. 18 on Twitter.

“From 1900 on 18 January, customers will be able to start sending International Standard and International Economy letters which do not require a customs declaration (i.e. these letters do not contain goods); International Business Standard (untracked) and International Business Economy personal correspondence letters (which do not require a customs declaration) into the Royal Mail network through all channels including Royal Mail post boxes and Post Office branches,” Royal Mail said on an international incident bulletin updated Jan. 19 on its website.

Royal Mail first announced disruptions to international mail services Jan. 12 on Twitter, and a Jan. 17 service update on its website said that the postal agency was “experiencing severe service disruption.”

A Jan. 11 article published by the BBC said the cyber incident affected a back office system that prepares international mail and tracks overseas items.

On Jan. 13, the BBC reported that the disruption was caused by Russian criminals using ransomware, defined by the news organization as “malicious computer software that encrypts data and locks up systems.”

The BBC did not name the source for the information and said Royal Mail “declined to comment on whether the attack was ransomware.”

The BBC cited unnamed sources claiming there were “workarounds” for Royal Mail to get the system working again and avoid paying a ransom “expected to be in the millions.”

The Jan. 19 bulletin on Royal Mail’s website said the postal agency has started testing these workarounds and moving a limited number of parcels in addition to letters.

“While we trial these operational workarounds,” Royal Mail said, “we continue to ask customers not to submit any new export parcels into the network. Our initial focus will be to clear mail that has already been processed and is waiting to be despatched.”

Royal Mail said it continues to work with external experts, security authorities and regulators, and that an investigation into the cyber incident is ongoing.

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