How Much Time Does International Shipping Take?

How Much Time Does International Shipping Take?Whether you’re an online retailer or a regular customer, you probably want to know how long international shipping takes when you send a parcel overseas. International shipping speed is affected by many factors, some of which are beyond our control, but it is generally possible to predict when your package is going to arrive.

International shipping is a complicated process because it involves different types of transport, rules and regulations that vary by country, and many other aspects. Because of multiple factors involved, an overseas parcel can take anywhere from 1 business day to several weeks to arrive to its destination. Here are just a few factors that affect international shipping speed:

  • Shipping carrier and service.
  • Destination country (the more remote the destination country is and the less developed local postal service it has, the longer it takes to ship).
  • Customs clearance (shipping takes longer if your package gets stuck in customs for one reason or another).
  • Peak seasons (shipping takes longer when shipping carriers are busy due to an influx of shipments).
  • Unforseen circumstances (natural disasters, strikes, epidemics, government restrictions, wars and armed conflicts, etc.).

The shipping carrier and service you select are main factor that determines shipping time. Most carriers provide several international shipping services, each with its own estimated delivery time. Keep in mind that faster delivery speed usually means higher shipping cost, and vice versa; if you want your package to get delivered fast, you’ll need to pay for it. Let’s take a closer look at estimated delivery times for international shipping services provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and UPS.

USPS International Shipping Services Estimated Delivery Time

The USPS delivers to about 180 countries and has four main international mail services you can choose from based on postage price, delivery speed, included tracking and insurance, and other features. Their respective shipping times are the following:

  • 1–3 business days (including next-day delivery to many destinations in Canada) for Global Express Guaranteed.
  • 3–5 business days for Priority Mail Express International.
  • 6–10 business days for Priority Mail International.
  • Unspecified for First-Class Package International Service / First-Class Mail International (delivery time is not guaranteed and can vary between 1 and 4 weeks depending on the country of destination and other factors).

Keep in mind that once your package arrives in the destination country, the local postal service becomes responsible for the final leg of delivery. Because of this, delivery might take longer than estimated by the USPS.

UPS International Shipping Services Estimated Delivery Time

UPS offers a variety of international shipping services to its US customers. How much time does international shipping take for each of the services? Let’s take a look:

  • Delivery time provided upon order placement for UPS Express Critical (shipping option for time-sensitive shipments; your shipment will be prioritized and delivered as soon as possible).
  • 1–3 business days for UPS Worldwide Express.
  • 2–5 business days for UPS Worldwide Expedited.
  • Day definite (a guarantee to deliver by a certain date) for UPS Worldwide Standard.

To see your delivery options and calculate the estimated delivery date for a UPS international shipment, you can use the UPS time and cost calculator.

So, as you see, international shipping can take from 1 day to several weeks depending on the shipping carrier and service, destination country, and other factors. Keep in mind that fast delivery options are rarely affordable, but it is possible to get a shipping discount. For example, if you print your shipping labels with PostageMaker, you can get a discount of up to 25% from retail shipping rates.