parcel post, sending of packages through the mail service. At the congress of the Universal Postal Union in Paris in 1878, an international parcel-post system was established. The British parcel-post bill, passed in 1882, put into effect the following year domestic, colonial, and foreign services. Various other countries established such systems; the United States entered into conventions with other governments to convey parcels sent into the country but delayed instituting a domestic service until the Parcel Post Act of 1912. A water route for parcel post was started in 1917, and a fleet of trucks was put into operation in the East the next year. Parcel-post delivery on rural routes was established in 1919, making it possible for farmers to ship eggs and other produce direct to the consumer. Small animals that do not require food or water while in transit are accepted as parcel post. Extra fees provide for the special handling, insurance, and special delivery of parcels. In 1948 an air parcel-post service was established. Under treaty arrangements the United States is able to exchange parcel post with most countries of the world. Private freight companies (such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service) compete with the U.S. Postal Service for domestic and international delivery.