What To Expect When Shipping Internationally
Shipping a package, parcel, or document to another country might seem like a daunting task but if you know how to navigate the waters it should be a simple and straightforward process. We’ve compiled a guide for you to follow so that you can ship to most countries around the world while maintaining compliance with most customs policies.
What can’t be shipped?
It’s important to remember that you cannot ship prohibited or hazardous material. Things such as flammables, explosives, firearms, perishables or live animals and humans are not allowed. Other items such as cosmetics, alcohols, prescription drugs and electronics are subject to certain restrictions based on the country you’re shipping to so it’s always a good idea to check with the carrier beforehand. This is to avoid any delays or confiscation in customs. Certain items require a special permit to cross certain borders so once again it’s best to check beforehand.
How much does it cost?
We get this question on a daily basis. How much does it cost to ship a small package to X country? We wish it would be as simple as quoting a flat fee but the final cost depends on three factors; the dimensions of the package, the weight of the package and the shipping destination. We need this information at a minimum to be able to quote a price. Once we have this info we can go through all the options with the various carriers and the various shipping speeds. In terms of pricing, it can vary. Most of the time regular postal service can be the least expensive but sometimes one of the faster services like DHL might be less expensive. It all depends on those three factors.
Which carrier should I pick?
For most countries you have the option of sending regular postal service, Fed EX international, UPS International, or DHL. Some countries (or even cities) differ so it really depends on which service is available. In terms of security and reliability we recommend DHL, UPS or FEDEX international since they will deliver the package at the final destination. Postal service gets transferred from our postal service (USPS) to the destination countries’ postal service so shipping times and reliability varies. It all boils down to the service you prefer vs. the price you’re willing to pay.
How long does shipping take?
When we give you a shipping estimate, it’s the “best case scenario” shipping estimate. This is assuming there are no customs or shipping delays (due to weather or processing). These things are out of the control of the carrier. You must keep in mind that for anything other than documents you should give or take a few days in case there are any delays for processing, customs, etc. It might take anywhere between a day or two to a few weeks depending on the carrier and shipping speed you select.
Packaging and customs forms
In order to ship internationally you must package your items accordingly. Anything fragile should be secured properly and protected. Making sure you maximize padding but minimize the overall package size will help you lower your shipping cost. Once you have everything packaged correctly you must make sure to fill out a customs form (or a Commercial Invoice if for commercial purposes) with details about the items, the quantity, and the value. Make sure you sign the form and include 4 copies in an international shipping pouch.
Be aware of Taxes and duties
Taxes and duties may be imposed on any item when you ship internationally. There is no way of knowing ahead of time how much might be charged. This is entirely up to the customs of the country that you are shipping to. High value items and/or electronics are more likely than not going to be taxed. The party responsible for paying these fees will be the recipient so make sure that you let that person or company know to keep an eye out. They should be easily accessible in case of any communication from the carrier about any sort of customs info or requirements such as duties & taxes. Therefore it is important to provide a contact phone number for the recipient.
If for any reason, your package is unclaimed, refused, or rejected by customs it will be shipped back to the point of origin. You will be responsible for any shipping and/or storage fees associated with this instance.
Why it pays to come to Mail & Parcels Plus
By this point you might be overwhelmed. We covered things you can’t ship, cost and estimates, carriers, shipping speeds, packaging and customs forms, taxes & duties, and return shipping. Dealing with all of these things will take more time, money, and energy out of your day than you’d like. This is why we suggest giving us a visit for all of your international shipping needs. We’ll give you a shipping quote, make sure there are no restrictions in place for the item you’re trying to ship, package the item(s), and fill out the customs forms for you. We’ll have you in and out in no time. We’ve been providing shipping services this for over 28 years now so you can trust our expertise.