You’ve ordered an item online from overseas, and have just received a “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” tracking update.
What does this mean exactly? Where is your package when you receive this update and is there anything you need to do?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: Receive Item From Customer (OTB)
The “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” tracking alert means that the carrier has picked up the package from the sender, (i.e, the customer). OTB means “Outward Bound” signifying that the shipment is in the origin country and will be sent outward to another country.
Receive Item From Customer (OTB) – Guide
Needless to say, the “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” status update means that the package is still at the very beginning of its journey.
In fact, for some carriers, this will be the first physical scan that the service takes regarding the shipment. In other words, it is the first point of contact the carrier has with the package.
As mentioned in the summary, the OTB acronym is added because the shipment is destined for cross-border transit. It is heading “Outward Bound”.
- Related Content: What Does “Notification of Shipment Confirmation” Mean?
What Happens After the “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” Status Alert?
Although the wording will change between carriers in regard to the updates, the next steps are almost universal.
Assuming this is an order from China to the west, the package will first be sent to the carrier facility close to the origin location.
From here it will be sorted and dispatched to a designated export location. If you have paid for an expedited delivery service, this will likely involve a domestic flight toward an international transit hub such as Shanghai or Beijing.
Of course, if the sender location is within these regions, air cargo transit to the international export location won’t be necessary.
Once at the export location, the package will be subject to customs clearance before being handed over to a line-haul service that will be responsible for shipment overseas.
It is important to make clear that economy shipments leaving China can involve a lot more steps than those mentioned above.
Economy air cargo can take several weeks to actually leave China. This is because the item will often take a convoluted route from the origin facility to the export location.
It can then take weeks to be loaded onto an available plane. Add potential clearance delays, the fact that some shipments will be transported by cargo-ship, (which is even slower than airfreight) and it can seem like your package isn’t moving at all.
- Related Content: What Does “Insert Item Into Bag (OTB)” Mean?
My Tracking is Stuck on “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)”
If your package is stuck on “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” it will generally mean that there has been a hold-up in the origin warehouse facility.
In other words, the package has been picked up by the carrier, made its way to the local facility, and has failed to be scanned inside the facility for onward dispatch.
However, before you jump to this conclusion, you should wait at least two weeks for a further update.
As mentioned, economy services shipping out of China are slow. Not only that, tracking updates can be very scarce and in most cases disappear altogether once the package leaves Chinese shores.
This is why you should wait several weeks before making inquiries about the location of your package.
Contact the Ecommerce sales platform or the seller you ordered from too soon, and the response you will get will be less than helpful. You will simply be told to wait longer.
Contacting the Seller
Most eCommerce platforms have buyer protection periods, and means within the platform to contact the seller over a dispute.
If your package really is stuck at the point of “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” and it is time to make contact, you can do so via the sales platform you ordered from.
AliExpress offers 60 days of buyer protection, (it is within this time you can claim a refund or replacement should the order not arrive) and everything you need is provided within your account dashboard.
Similar Alerts to Receive Item From Customer (OTB)
The “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” update is essentially the carrier saying we now have your package in our delivery infrastructure.
When you receive the “Receive Item From Customer (OTB)” update your package is at the very beginning of its shipment journey.
If this is an economy delivery from China it is realistically many weeks away from delivery. This means that patience really is a virtue.
Even if you receive no further updates it is important that you try to ignore the situation and let the shipment run its course.
As long as you are aware of your buyer protection period, you will be covered should the item not arrive.
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. 🙂