Royal Mail is advising customers to not ship any mail for export while it tries to resolve a “cyber incident” that it became aware of on Tuesday (10 January).
The postal company has been working with affected clients and trying to identify the source of the issues since discovering the problem but has not said when it will be resolved.
Sky News reports a statement from the firm that said: “We are temporarily unable to despatch items to overseas destinations.”
It added: “Some customers may experience delay or disruption to items already shipped for export.”
Royal Mail has informed the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Information Commissioner’s Office over the breach, reports the BBC.
A spokesman for the NCSC said it was “working with the company, alongside the National Crime Agency, to fully understand the impact”.
The company is calling the issue a “cyber incident” rather than a cyberattack because it does not know what has caused the problem, the BBC has been told.
Royal Mail’s Parcelforce Worldwide brand was still operating to all international destinations, but customers should expect delays of one to two days, the company said.
Domestic post has not been affected and importing delays are reported to be minimal.
According to the Guardian international parcel deliveries account for a relatively small proportion of Royal Mail business, although its services are relied upon by many UK-based online retailers.
The company delivered 152m international parcels in the year to March 2022, amounting to one-tenth of total parcel volumes.
International parcels earned the company £779m in revenue for the year, down from the £1bn brought in during 2021.
Strike talks ongoing
The incident comes at a difficult time, as the company is also being affected by a series of strikes over jobs, pay and conditions in a dispute with the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
CWU members staged a series of strikes last year but fresh talks to resolve the long-running dispute started on Monday and will continue until January 20, according to the Evening Standard.
Royal Mail was also hit by a date breach last November that resulted in a “limited number” of customers being able to see information about other customer’s orders, Silicon reports.