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Tuvalu and the Universal Postal Union S10 Registered Mail Tracking Service

October 22 , 2011

Brian Cannon

Around 1996, the Universal Postal Union set up an international electronic mail tracking system, known as the S10 Standard. It has been modified over the years, but currently consists of a 13-character item identifier.

A numbered label would be like this: RR 000019435 TV with a barcode above it.

Tuvalu stamps registered cover 1
Cover 1

The first two digits are the service indicators. RR refers to registered mail. However, RA to RZ is also used, which could vary with each country. Other examples are VA to VZ for insured mail and CA to CZ for parcel post.

The hand-written "275" must be some sort of internal record for the Funafuti post office.

Participation in this service was optional to UPU members, and over the past decade more and more countries have opted in.

It would appear the Tuvalu joined sometime in late 2007 or early 2008.

There are several different types of labels in use by various countries, but all consist of three parts with the barcode and number. One part goes on the item being mailed, the second is for the customer's receipt and the third is for the post office's records.

Tuvalu uses a large blue type with the two labels removable from the center. Note that the UPU logo is on the right. Presumably transit labels could go in the empty space.

Shown is the earliest use of the S10 registration service that I have seen from Tuvalu. The large red cancel from the Tuvalu General Post office is dated 15 January 2008. The smaller black cancel with an unclear January date was applied at the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau (a different building), as was the rubber registration mark.

The New Zealand label seem to have been applied as some sort of transit tracking. However, the second cover (of October 2008 below) does not have any transit labels.

Tuvalu stamps registered cover 2
Cover 2


The S10 service in Tuvalu may have not been fully implemented early on, or had sum bugs to iron out, as the third cover shown Novmber 5, 2008, does not have any sort of electronic tracking. However, all recent covers that I have, 2010 and 2011 have the tracking label.

Tuvalu stamps registered cover 3
Cover 3

Sometime during 2011 a different blue label was put into use, with the UPU logo on the left. I have a cover with it dated July 14, 2011.

UPU logo on the top left


I would like to hear from anyone who may have information to add. Contact brian (at) tuvaluislands.com


Link: Universal Postal Union PDF document on the S10 Identifier code

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