5 Things to Keep in Mind When Shipping Internationally

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Shipping InternationallyInternational shipping is not rocket science, but there are still things you need to keep in mind if you want your package to arrive to its destination on time and intact without overpaying for shipping. Here are 5 things to remember when shipping internationally.

Global and Country-Specific Restrictions and Prohibitions

There are items that cannot be shipped internationally due to regulatory, safety, hazard, or other reasons, as well as items that require getting special permits prior to shipping. Prohibited items are completely forbidden, whereas restricted items are allowed under certain conditions.

The list of internationally prohibited items includes aerosols, air bags, alcoholic beverages and alcohol-containing perfumes, ammunition, cigarettes, dry ice, explosives, gasoline, hemp-based products and marijuana (including medical), mercury, nail polish, and poisons. Lithium batteries, medicines and prescription drugs, glues and paints, perishables, and some other items are listed as restricted. Most postal and courier companies that ship internationally have the lists of internationally prohibited and restricted items on their websites.

In addition, each country has its own import rules. For example, it is forbidden to ship most food, plant and animal materials to Australia, playing cards to Greece, agricultural products to Ukraine – and these are just a few examples. The United States Postal Service website has a list of countries and localities with individual restrictions and prohibitions, you should check it out; it’s also a good idea to check in with your carrier of choice if you prefer GlobalPost, FedEx, UPS or some other carrier to the USPS.

Tracking and Insurance

The longer the distance your package has to travel, the higher the probability it may get lost or damaged along the way. If you choose the cheapest international service that does not include tracking or insurance, you may end up losing more money than saving. We highly recommend to choose shipping services that offer tracking and insurance for your peace of mind and financial protection.

When shipping internationally, it is important to declare the value of your package accurately (not just for insurance purposes; undervaluation of imported goods is considered fraud) and consider purchasing additional insurance if the items you’re shipping are expensive or irreplaceable.

Getting the Recipient’s Address Right

It is extremely important to get the recipient’s address right if you want your international package to arrive to its destination without any trouble. Addressing conventions vary by country; for example, some countries require to include the postal code before the city/town/village name, in some countries the postal code precedes the name of the region/province, and some countries don’t use postal codes at all. We highly recommend that you look up the addressing conventions of the destination country on the Universal Postal Union website or check in with the recipient to make sure you got the address right.

Transit Time

Air transport is the fastest way to get your package to its destination, but fast delivery typically means expensive delivery, so it’s important to find the right balance between the cost and speed of delivery if you’re on a tight budget. International shipping can take anytime from one business day (express delivery from the US to Canada) to 4 weeks and more depending on the distance, shipping service, customs clearance, and other factors.

It is important to understand that, while shipping carriers do their best to deliver international packages in a timely manner, delays still happen due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather changes, strikes, peak seasons, etc. Because to this, you should factor possible delays into the estimated delivery time.

Customs Clearance and Duties

All international shipments go through customs upon their arrival to the destination country. Once the package is cleared, the recipient may need to pay import duties and/or taxes such as VAT. Generally, duties and taxes are not the sender’s problem, but if you run an e-commerce business that offers international delivery, you need to ensure that your customers are fully aware of additional fees they may need to pay. In some cases, it is worth considering offering your customers DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) delivery.