Thanks for your Question!
The US Postal Service and their equivalent in Brazil, are both members
of the Universal Postal Union, and international organization
comprised of 190 members representing the national postal services of
most of the countries on Earth. The UPU's website can be found at:
One of the roles of the UPU is to facilitate the accounting and
payment of "terminal dues", the term used to describe the payment that
the postal service in the destination country receives from the postal
service in the originating country whenever a letter or parcel is
Since 2003, the UPU has used an online system for each member postal
service to submit their claims for these terminal dues. What the
system then does for all of the member nations, is calculate what the
net balance due is after accounting for international mail that is
sent from, and delivered in, each member nation. This simplifies the
actual financial transfers that need to occur, since only the net
amount needs to change hands.
The pages on the UPU website that describe this a bit better are:
You can also read this following statement (from March 9, 2000) on the
Department of Justice website, which describes much of the historical
background leading up to the new UPU Clearing system, and alternate
ways that international mail is sometimes handled:
I hope this helps you with your question. Please let me know, using
the Request Answer Clarification button above, if any part of this
Answer is unclear.
Google Answers Researcher
Clarification of Answer by
17 May 2004 15:33 PDT
The terminal dues rate is assessed per item, and is independent of the
actual amount charged to the sender by the originating postal service.
Prior to 2000, the terminal dues rate was a flat rate that applied to
all countries, regardless of the true handling costs incurred by the
receiving postal service to deliver the letter or parcel to the final
The DOJ article above describes this situation and the changes that
the US in particular lobbied for at the Beijing Congress of the UPU in
1999. The major change involves a shift from a flat rate system, to
one that takes into the account the actual costs involved. Generally
speaking, the costs incurred by the industrialized nations is higher
than the costs incurred by developing nations due to higher labor
rates. At the same time, economies of scale come into affect. In 1998,
the USPS estimated that it handled about 41% of all of the mail sent
When you factor in the automation that the USPS has employed to help
reduce the amount of labor involved in handling the mail, you can see
how the USPS has managed to keep its internal costs low. This helps to
keep the international mailing rates low, too. The same most likely
cannot be said for Brazil, where the internal costs are most likely
higher due to lower economies of scale and higher manual processing.
Even with a lower labor rate, the effective costs would most likely be
To summarize, the terminal dues rates between Brazil and the US can be
different based on the information that the two postal services
provide the UPU with regard to their costs associated with delivering
international mail. However, the actual cost charged to the sender
will be most heavily influenced by the cost/pricing structure of the
originating postal service.
Hope this helps!
Google Answers Researcher