You’ve ordered a package from China and have received a “CN Outbound” tracking update.
What does this mean exactly? Where is your package when you receive this alert and what should you do if it becomes stuck?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: CN Outbound
The “CN Outbound” tracking alert is used by carriers such as Buffalo to signify that the shipment is due to leave China. CN is an abbreviation for China, and outbound means that the shipment is going through the export clearance process.
CN Outbound – Guide
The “CN Outbound” alert means that the shipment has reached the location where it will be exported from China.
This is an important update to receive as even the process of reaching the export location can be convoluted.
It is likely that you have ordered a product online from a Chinese eCommerce store before receiving this update.
The packaging process, leaving the warehouse, and being transported to the airport for export can take time depending on the service level used.
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Essentially, you know that all of this has taken place once you receive the “CN Outbound” tracking update.
However, this is still a vague update in that there are a few important processes that your shipment will go through before it actually departs China.
Namely, customs clearance and being loaded onto an available mode of transport for overseas transit, (i.e plane or cargo ship).
Furthermore, depending on the carrier used, you may not receive any more updates until the package actually leaves China. In other words, the various steps of clearance may not be reported.
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What Happens After the “CN Outbound” Update?
In the case of Buffalo Carrier company, the next update you will expect to see is “Awaiting departure confirmation”.
This actually means that the shipment has passed through customs and is now waiting to be loaded onto a plane.
This normally takes between 24 and 48hrs, at which point you will receive an “Int’l Shipping” (International Shipping) update.
This means that the plane has left the airport in China and is making its way toward the destination country (South Africa) or an intermediate transit country.
Other carriers that use the “CN Outbound” alert may provide more comprehensive tracking updates, meaning you will have better insight into the steps of clearance and more.
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Tracking Stuck on “CN Outbound”
Unfortunately, due to the fact that “CN Outbound” means that the shipment is about to go through the clearance process to exit China if your tracking becomes stuck, it normally means that there has been an issue.
However, it will not always be a clearance problem, (I.e restricted contents or missing paperwork).
The most likely culprit for your package being stuck at this point is the actual delay in its export.
Chinese eCommerce stores ship hundreds of thousands of items out of China a day.
Backlog, recent staffing problems due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and simply the slow speed of economy carriers, mean your package can be held at the border for days, (sometimes weeks).
Buffalo is normally on the better end of this spectrum in terms of service speed, (carriers such as Yanwen and Sunyou can be a lot slower), however, delays are certainly common enough to be a problem.
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So What Should I Do?
You have three main options open to you if your tracking is stuck and it looks as if your package is not leaving China.
Universal Tracking App
The first is to simply try your tracking code in a universal tracking app. If the original carrier has handed over the package to a third party to conduct overseas transit, it will be scanned by a different system.
These apps will search through hundreds of carrier databases, to see if the information on your shipment exists elsewhere.
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Contact the Carrier
If the above doesn’t provide you with any new information, you should contact the carrier.
On an expedited delivery using a premium service speed, you have grounds to do this within two or three days of the package being stuck.
Buffalo can be contacted here for such shipments.
If an economy carrier service has been used, you will need to limit your expectations somewhat.
As mentioned above, shipments can take days sometimes weeks to leave China, without any issue existing behind the hold-up.
We recommend that you actually follow the step below if this is the case.
Be Aware of Your Buyer Guarantee Period
Most Chinese eCommerce platforms offer buyer guarantee periods. In other words, if your package doesn’t arrive you will be covered by the terms of the purchase contract.
Do this too early, and you will be told to wait longer. (You can contact the seller in the interim if you feel a problem has occurred).
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Overall, the “CN Outbound” tracking update means your package has reached the export location for transit out of China.
With any luck, your item will pass through the clearance process and will be loaded onto a plane for overseas transit within a few days.
Economy carriers can take much longer, however, so don’t be surprised if this process can take time.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂