Extraterritorial Offices of Exchange (ETOEs) are businesses operated by – or in connection with – foreign postal operators. ETOEs perform a wide range of postal functions that can vary by country, but generally include consolidating, documenting, and transporting outbound international mail. Since the early 1960s, organizations have been using a practice called “remailing,” in which they bypass the national postal operator for delivery of outbound international mail service in order to access lower rates. The term ETOEs was later coined to describe this practice of foreign postal operators seeking to send dispatches directly to other countries from countries outside their own territories.
The recent growth in the international mailing and shipping market — recently estimated to be $1.5 trillion — will likely continue to fuel discussions on the role and impact of ETOEs and the terminal dues system. ETOEs were a topic taken up during the 2016 UPU Congress and UPU member countries agreed on changes to the terminal dues system during that meeting, but it continues to be a topic of debate among the international mailing and shipping community. The future of ETOEs and their operations in the U.S. is unclear. This paper explores ETOE operations, their oversight structure, and stakeholder perspectives.