4 Things to Know When Shipping Abroad

4 Things to Know When Shipping Abroad Even though international shipping has become faster and more reliable over the past few decades, delays inevitably happen every now and then. Sometimes they are caused by force majeure that no one could have foreseen, sometimes they are the carrier’s fault, but sometimes they are caused by the sender’s mistake. Here are four things you should know about shipping abroad in order to avoid the most common mistakes and make sure your packages arrive as quickly as possible.

Shipping Restrictions and Regulations

Shipping restrictions and customs regulations are no joke. In addition to shipping restrictions imposed by the Universal Postal Union (UPS) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there are import restrictions and customs regulations that vary by destination country.

Some items (for example, alcohol-containing products, flammable substances, weapons, etc.) cannot be shipped internationally because they are classified as dangerous or hazardous. Some cannot be shipped by air but may be shipped by sea. Some can be shipped by air but must be accompanied by special documentation (for example, live plants may require a phytosanitary certificate). Some items can be shipped to one country but cannot be shipped to another (for example, the import of chewing gum is illegal in Singapore).

So, the first thing you should do when you intend to ship something abroad is to check out the list of restricted and prohibited items, as well as the import rules of the country you’re shipping to. If you’re still not sure whether you’re allowed to ship a specific item, you should check with the shipping carrier.

How to Fill Out a Customs Declaration

Every international shipment needs a customs declaration, i.e. a document describing the contents of the package: the type of shipment (commercial merchandise, gift, etc.), the list of items in the package, their quantity and value, and the total weight of the package. If there are any mistakes in the declaration, the package may get held at customs.

The easiest way to make sure your customs declaration is filled out properly is to print your shipping labels yourself because an international shipping label doubles as a customs form. When you create international shipping labels with PostageMaker, the system will calculate the total value and weight of the package automatically (provided that you’ve entered all information correctly), so that’s one less thing to worry about.

The customs declaration is the most important document accompanying an international shipment, but it may not be the only one. Some shipments may need additional paperwork like a phytosanitary certificate that’s already been mentioned above. When you ship something abroad, you must figure out what documents your shipment requires and make sure they’re in order.

Customs Fees and Taxes

Customs charge a fee (customs duty) for international shipments that are worth more than a certain amount; each country has its own import duty and tax threshold, which typically does not apply to excise goods. Customs duty may vary depending on the value of the product; the higher the value, the higher the duty. Some countries also charge VAT on purchases and sometimes on gifts worth more than a certain amount.

These duties and taxes are paid by the recipient, but in some situations, it may be your job as the sender to make sure the recipient is aware of them; after all, you don’t want to spend all this money on postage just to have the package returned to you because the recipient didn’t know about the fees and taxes and refused to pay them.

Estimated Delivery Time

Delivery abroad takes time, especially if you’re shipping overseas, so longer delivery times are something you need to make peace with. Of course, express delivery is an option for time-sensitive shipments, but there are several things you should know about it.

First, express delivery is always more expensive than standard delivery, sometimes considerably so. Second, it involves air transit, and, as we’ve already established, not all items can be shipped by air. Third, shipping delays may still happen for a variety of reasons such as peak seasons, various emergencies (extreme weather, natural disasters, strikes, etc.), customs being overwhelmed with an influx of shipments, etc.

So, even if can afford to splurge on express delivery, you should understand that your shipment may get delayed. And if you’re on a tight budget, you need to start planning in advance to make sure your package arrives on time.