The world of international shipping services is highly competitive. As various duties and taxes to international trade arise, comparing different carriers conducting international service for value becomes a necessity for global commerce. Here we are comparing two companies that provide a wide selection of service options and deliver to over 220 countries and territories: FedEx International Shipping and DHL International Shipping.
FedEx offers a variety of options for delivery time, from next possible flight to next day to five-day service. Note that FedEx will use independent contractors for delivery in certain countries where it lacks the infrastructure to deliver to the address. This use of third-party carriers may result in delays in delivery time and tracking. The following are options for international FedEx delivery:
- FedEx International Next Flight – Next flight out, fastest possible delivery
- FedEx International First – Next morning delivery, limited service areas
- FedEx International Priority – 1-3 business days
- FedEx International Economy – within five business days
DHL offers a similar variety of options for delivery time to FedEx. However, DHL has an integrated delivery chain with no independent contractors. For this reason, DHL does not have the same delivery delays or tracking problems that FedEx sometimes has. DHL delivery options:
- DHL Same Day Jetline – Next flight out, fastest possible delivery
- DHL Same Day Sprintline – Dedicated vehicle, fastest possible delivery
- DHL Express XX – Where XX is 9:00, 10:30, or 12:00. Next day delivery by 9:00, 10:30 or 12:00
- DHL Express Worldwide – Next day delivery by the end of day
Both DHL’s and FedEx’s emergency rush services, DHL Same Day Jetline / Sprintline and FedEx International Next Flight are priced on a case-by-case basis that is highly dependent on the price of air freight or even the price of an airline ticket in the case of hand-carried items. For this reason, it is impossible to determine which is the most cost-effective in this category of delivery.
On the other end of the delivery spectrum, DHL Express Worldwide is usually less expensive than FedEx. Our rate quote test case package was a 10-ounce 8x6x4 box being delivered to London from Boston:
DHL Express Worldwide: $35.46
FedEx International Economy: $116.81
For more immediate delivery times, the results were closer. Our next international shipment was a 1-lb 4x4x4 box from Central California to Taipei resulted in closer prices, but DHL still was less expensive than FedEx:
DHL Express 12:00: $86.45
FedEx International Priority: $100.72
Both FedEx and DHL have member programs: DHL Bonus Program and FedEx Advantage Program. DHL Bonus Program awards coupons for free packages up to certain weights, while FedEx Advantage Program benefits consist of flat discounts on FedEx shipping. Both programs will send members promotional offers. Note that these programs are up and above the discounts associated with having accounts with FedEx and DHL.
International Service Support
FedEx support comes from its FedEx Global Trade Manager resource. The Global Trade Manager offers six different tools:
- Find International Documents – customs forms, etc.
- Shipping Advisories – list of current regulations
- Estimate Duties and Taxes – self-explanatory
- Denied Party Screening – identify people, businesses, and organizations that have had international business transactions denied
- Country Profiles – overview of countries within service
- Harmonized Code Search – Get World Customs Organization (WCO) code for what you are shipping
DHL Customs Services and Support is more extensive than FedEx, but some of its services are fee-based. Subscribers to DHL’s services get access to tools from DHL for an optimal website experience for their shipping services. Examples include import and export support, expedited cross border shipping, rapid updates for transit times, etc. Broad categories of DHL services include:
- Customs Services
- Customs Process
- Importing into Europe
- Customs Paperwork
- Customs Glossary
- Duties and Taxes
- Global Trade Services
- Clearance on Demand
Both DHL and FedEx provide insurance up to $100 declared value for packages. FedEx insures packages of $100-300 value for a flat rate, then at a rate of .07 per 100 of value. DHL follows a similar regimen, though it was hard; we could not have updated our list of package insurance options in DHL’s interface without plugging in a string of package values. While it doesn’t seem like much, package insurance costs add up rapidly if you ship a lot.
A more economical option for insuring packages would be 3rd party insurance provided by a company like Cabrella Shipping Insurance. Often, 3rd parties like Cabrella, offer much lower rates for insuring parcels than either DHL or FedEx. Cabrella itself can be integrated with shipping systems in addition to DHL and FedEx software, with an extensive list of supported web shipping systems that it can integrate into. It also provides for manual entry, or uploaded lists for insurance, and updates supported web browsers for an optimal website experience.
In general, DHL will offer lower rates for shipping internationally and has less potential for tracking errors. FedEx still does a lot of international shipping, and its free support might be attractive to some. Nevertheless, for value of services, and considerations of cost and consistency, DHL has the upper hand.
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