The United Kingdom’s answer to the US Postal Service, Royal Mail, is warning its customers to hold onto international letters and packages for now. The courier is “experiencing a severe service disruption,” impacting its ability to send items abroad because of a “cyber incident,” Royal Mail wrote in a vague news statement on its website on Wednesday. The company also noted the issue on its social media pages.
Any items already distributed to Royal Mail, intended for overseas delivery are likely to face delays, the mail service added. Imports into the country appear to be unaffected, so far.
It’s currently unclear if the issue is the result of a malicious attack or some other variety of technical snafu, but the delivery company says it has launched an internal investigation and is reporting the incident to regulators. “Our teams are working around the clock to resolve this disruption and we will update you as soon as we have more information,” Royal Mail wrote.
Royal Mail sends about 200,000 items abroad daily, according to a report from the BBC—so many letters and packages could pile up and whither in a backlog if the disruption goes on for an extended period of time. And even a single day of stalled exports is likely to cause a ripple effect of delays and other issues for the multinational courier.
Wednesday’s incident is not the first widespread service issue that Royal Mail has encountered in recent weeks. The company dealt with delivery delays in December, as its more than 115,000 postal workers went on strike at the end of 2022 over pay and conditions.
Royal Mail was first founded in 1516 by Henry VIII as a department of the government. However, unlike the US’s nationalized postal service, the UK’s courier was privatized beginning in 2013.