About Parcel Post

Our post
Our post – what's it all about?

Australia Post does not just deliver letters, it also delivers parcels. In fact, Australia Post now delivers more parcels than ever and would you believe that in December 2011, they delivered three million more parcels than they would in a normal month? People must have sent a lot of Christmas presents!

Read the information below to find out more about parcels.

The journey of my parcel

Domestic parcels

A domestic parcel (one that is sent within Australia) begins its journey when it is posted at an Australia Post retail outlet, in a street posting box, or collected from a business.

  • First it is taken to a Hub where it is then separated and in some cases sorted, ready for transport to a processing centre, usually a Mail or Parcel Centre. Except in some places where the parcels are processed and delivered locally.

Mail / Parcel Centre
  • It then travels by truck, van or air to one of our five major Parcel Centres around Australia where it is processed (sorted further). A Large Parcel Sorting Machine can sort up to 12,000 parcels an hour! It either uses the barcode that has been printed on a parcel or postcode information to automatically sort parcels. There are parcel facilities in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia. There are two kinds of Mail / Parcel Centres. Metropolitan Mail Centres which are processing facilities in city areas and country Mail Centres (located outside metropolitan areas).

Delivery Centre
  • Next it is delivered (by road, rail or air) to a Delivery Centre where it is made ready for delivery.

  • From the Delivery Centre, the parcel is delivered to its final destination ... the person it is for! This is done by your regular postie (if the parcel is not too big), or maybe by an Australia Post contractor with a van (if the parcel is large or requires a signature). Parcel deliveries begin at 7am every business day and end at 5pm.

An international parcel (one that comes from overseas) has a slightly different beginning to its journey within Australia.

International Gateway Facility
  • This parcel will come into Australia by plane or boat and will be delivered to one of four International Gateway Facilities. These are in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. At the Gateway Facility the parcels are checked by the Australian Customs Service and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to make sure they do not contain any items that are not allowed into Australia. The parcels can be checked in a number of ways: X-ray, inspection by staff, or by specially trained detector dogs such as Beagles and Labradors.

  • Once a parcel has been approved for entry into Australia (has passed quarantine), it is sent to one of the Major Parcel Centres and follows the same process as a domestic parcel.

How do I collect a parcel?

Small parcels will often be delivered with your regular letter mail, but larger items, or items that need to be signed for, may be delivered by an Australia Post contractor.

If you are not home when the parcel addressed to you is delivered, one of the following things will happen:

  • If possible, it will be left in a safe place at your house (e.g. near your front door or hidden behind a bin) and then they might leave a card under your door telling you where it is.

  • If there is no safe place to leave the parcel, or the postie needs someone to sign for it, they will take it to the closest Australia Post collection point which is usually a retail outlet or business hub and leave a card under your door telling you where to collect your parcel from.

The other delivery option is to register for one of the new Parcel Lockers (available in the new Australia Post superstores). An adult must register for this service and for more information about the superstores check out Australia Post retail outlets.

How do I package the items I want to send?

Australia Post retail outlets provide a huge range of packaging choices. Depending on what you want to send, you can use:

  • Mailing boxes – these come in a range of sizes and can be used if you are posting more than one item, or something that is an odd shape. One of the most popular mailing boxes is the one designed for CDs.

  • Padded bags – these bags have bubble wrap inside to provide extra protection for fragile items such as those made of china or glass. You can sometimes find padded bags with fun designs on the outside and these are great for sending gifts.

  • Tough bags and boxes – these bags are also lined with bubble wrap, but are made from a lighter material. They are great for sending clothes, books or photos.

  • Mailing tubes – these are great for sending artwork, posters or special documents.

  • Pre-paid satchels – these are a quick and easy packaging option. You can send these anywhere in Australia and you can buy one to hold 500g, 3kg or 5kg.

Remember, you can always wrap a parcel yourself, but make sure that:

  • it is secure

  • there are no sharp bits sticking out

  • you have addressed it very clearly

  • you have added a return address in case it cannot be delivered.

There are also some rules about the size and weight of parcels, so if you are wrapping your own item check with a staff member at an Australia Post retail outlet before you post it.

What can't I send in a parcel?

There are all sorts of things that should not be sent through the post. It is even illegal to post some items!

Most of the time, your common sense will tell you if an item should be posted or not, but there are some items that should never be posted.

For safety reasons, items that are explosive, highly flammable, radioactive or dangerous should never be posted. You also need to carefully consider posting anything that might leak like perfume or some other liquid. It could damage your parcel and many other parcels in the process, so stay clear of anything that could get messy!

Did you know that lithium batteries are now classified as a dangerous good? Items containing lithium batteries like mobile phones or iPods cannot be delivered by air and will only be transported by road.

If you are not sure whether an item should be posted, ask the staff at your local Australia Post retail outlet.


Have you ever heard the word e-commerce? It is short for electronic commerce and relates to buying and selling products or services via the internet. It also includes activities such as banking and shopping. Shopping online can be a bit tricky (and you usually have to be over 18).

Every year, the number of people buying things online is increasing and Australia Post has really noticed this, as we are the ones who are delivering most of the parcels!

Follow a parcel – how does it get there?

Follow a parcel – how does it get there?

Discover the journey of domestic and international parcels from posting to delivery by clicking on each stage.

Follow a parcel – how does it get there? (pdf, 331 kb)