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Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB) – What Does it Mean?

You’ve ordered a product online from overseas and received a “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Where is your package when you receive this alert and is there anything you need to do?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)

The “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” status alert means that the package has entered a carrier facility at the export point of the origin country. OTB stands for Outward Bound, meaning that the shipment will be leaving the country.

Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB) – Guide

The Office of Exchange in the context of this update is the carrier facility that works in conjunction with customs clearance of the origin (or intermediate transit) country.

When the shipment is received by the Office of Exchange it will be sorted for onward dispatch toward the destination country and could be subject to customs processing.

The OTB acronym is to signify that the package is leaving a country, as it means Outward Bound.

Next Steps After the “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” Update

The next update you should get after receiving the “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” alert is a notification that the shipment has been handed over to customs and or departed the origin country.

Different carriers use alternative wording for this process, however, example alerts would include “Item Presented to Import Customs“, “Insert item into bag (Otb)“, “Departed from AIRPORT of Origin” and “Send Item Abroad (EDI-received)

How Long Will My Package be Inside the “Office of Exchange”?

Receive Item at Office of Exchange

The shipping service used and the contents of the package can significantly impact the length of time your package remains on “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)”.

For example, an expedited air cargo delivery using a service such as DHL can pass through the Office of Exchange in a day. I have experienced this quite frequently when buying watches online.

The contents are known, safe, and small and the paperwork is all correct (due to the professionalism of the company I buy the watches from). 

Customs processing is fast, and the package passes through the Office of Exchange with speed and is loaded onto a DHL plane.

However, an economy air cargo service can take much longer. The package can be delayed within the warehouse while it awaits clearance. It can also be held up while it awaits dispatch on an available plane.

The wait time can stretch to several days. If the package is traveling by sea and is delayed at the outward bound Office of exchange while it awaits an available container ship, the wait time can stretch to weeks.

This is all still assuming that the clearance documentation (and package contents) is all as it should be.

What to do if Your Tracking is stuck on “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)”

The nature of the service used will also impact the steps you take should the tracking be stuck.

Essentially, if you have opted for an expedited delivery service, and your shipment is stuck for several days you should contact the carrier responsible (and in the case of eCommerce orders, contact the seller too).

It is very possible that documentation issues have occurred and you have not received information on what happens next.

Contact the carrier and the seller should reveal what steps need to be taken to solve the problem.

However, if your package is being delivered by an economy service, reacting after just a few days is too soon. Delays at the Office of Exchange are common with such services and you will be told to wait longer if you start inquiries too early.

The set-it and forget-it principle work well here. Your tracking updates are going to be unreliable with an economy service, so it is better to let the shipment run its course, rather than stress about progress.

Only when the buyer protection period starts to reach its end should you begin chasing the item. Before then the seller and/or the eCommerce platform you ordered from will not offer much assistance.

“Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” – Similar Updates

There are a number of similar status alerts to “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)”. Examples include, “Dispatch from Outward Office of Exchange“, “Arrival at Outward Office of Exchange“, and “Arrival at Inward Office of Exchange“.

Final Words

Essentially, the “Receive Item at Office of Exchange (OTB)” alert is a standard update that is notifying you of the fact the shipment is at the export location.

With any luck, it will make its way through the facility in a matter of days and will be loaded onto the mode of transport for onward dispatch.

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