International Shipping 101: The Dos and Don'ts of Successful Global Reach

Posted by Benjamin Meskin on Sep 17, 2020 9:00:00 AM
Benjamin Meskin

There comes a time when all business owners begin to wonder what more they can do to keep their company successful and growing. Whether you are the owner of a large company that has been around for many years or a small business owner who is just getting started, learning how to ship products internationally is a priority with most companies when they are looking for ways to expand.

Shipping your products to customers overseas can be extremely profitable. And while the economics involved in exporting are intriguing, many eCommerce businesses have yet to attempt this form of trade. With an estimated 60% of eCommerce business located outside of the U.S., failure to learn more about how to ship internationally could potentially hurt your business.

International shipping yard


How to Ship Internationally

It is normal for a business owner to become hesitant when considering international shipping. You may have questions about issues concerning the overall cost. Or you may be confused when it comes to filling out customs forms.

In recent years, the options that companies have for shipping overseas have grown. And that means selling your products to international buyers is much easier than you may think. With more tools and resources, including the option to ship globally without risk by purchasing international shipping insurance, it has never been easier for businesses to get started with international shipping.

Packages being loaded onto a boat for shipping

Here are a few simple steps that you can use to get your company started with shipping products internationally.


Which Countries Do You Want to Ship To?

Your first step in shipping internationally is thinking about where you are willing to ship your products. Many eCommerce businesses get started shipping internationally by selling to customers in Mexico and Canada. Because these two countries are so close in proximity to the U.S., they tend to be a much easier starting point. The cost to ship products there is less expensive than countries that are farther away, and it doesn’t take as long for the items to arrive.

Although Canada and Mexico are excellent shipping choices internationally, there are also many other opportunities out there for sellers in the United States. One suitable method to consider is looking at countries with free trade agreements enforced by the U.S. That is because these countries will have a simpler customs process and lower rates. That can make it much easier for goods to move from one country to the next.


Give Precise Details on What You are Shipping

Any non-documented shipment that is shipped internationally will require a customs form. It is especially important to be specific when completing this document. You do not want there to be any mistakes that could cause the shipment to be returned to you. Therefore, you will need to be precise when describing the contents of the package you are shipping. Specific details will have to be provided, such as the unit’s total value and the number of items inside. You will also need to add where the product is manufactured. All these details are necessary for the customs officials who need to apply the right classification to every shipment. That ensures a smooth path of entry throughout the international shipping market.

Shipping jewelry

What you put on a customs form may be different from one shipment to the next. If you are wondering about the best way to ship jewelry internationally, for instance, the rules may be quite different. The way to ship jewelry internationally depends on the regulation between the United States and the other country involved in the shipment. The terms are determined by the jewelry item’s materials, such as gold or silver. Different courier companies may have additional regulations for this type of shipment. Most of them will include valuable jewelry on their list of items not recommended for shipping through their standard service. Instead, they may suggest that you use an express service or one that has more insurance than their standard service offers.


Provide the Recipient’s Contact Information

Another essential part of completing the customs form or commercial invoice is to have all the details for the recipient’s contact information handy. By adding information such as the recipient’s phone number or email address, you are providing customs with everything they need if they have a question for the buyer. This way, the shipping process will continue to move along as it should without any delays. Failure to provide this information could result in the item being returned to you if there is a problem.

International Shipping Contact Form

Before you ship your product out, you must determine who will be paying for any duties, taxes, or insurance costs and the shipping costs. Will your business cover all of the expenses? Or will you have the recipient share with some of the total cost? These terms must be agreed upon before shipment, and it should all be included in the commercial invoice.


How Fast Do You Need Your Shipment to Arrive?

This decision will have a direct impact on your total cost of the shipment and any other related expenses. 

In general, the faster a package is delivered, the higher your overall shipping costs will be. But if your customer wants their shipment quickly, you don’t want to make them wait. Most carriers will provide you with a broad range of options when shipping a package internationally. If you plan to ship to Mexico or Canada, for example, and you do not require same or next-day delivery, you can go with standard ground service, which is often the most affordable option.

Looking at international shipping options online

Choose the Right Carrier

If you have questions or concerns about shipping items internationally for the first time, be assured that your shipping providers are here to help. They have the tools and resources necessary to help you get your items where they need to be right on time and allow you to keep track of the progress each step of the way.

Depending on the items you are shipping, the quantity and frequency of your shipments, one carrier may be better for you than all the others. Some carriers have larger and independent networks while others use 3rd party networks in the destination country. That is why you must do your own research to find out which is the best international shipping provider to meet your needs.


How Much Does International Shipping Cost?

Along with wondering how to get started with international shipping, one of the main questions that business owners wonder about is “how much does international shipping cost?” There are a lot of factors that go into the cost of a shipment. You have to think about where you are shipping your product to, the package’s overall weight and dimensions, the contents, and when you want the package to arrive. The cost to ship internationally will vary from one provider to the next as well.

calculating international shipping costs

Therefore, it is a good idea to compare prices for shipping to find out which one meets your budget and compare the benefits of each provider to ensure you are getting the best deal for your money. Keep in mind that shipping providers that include tracking and insurance with their total cost of a shipment can help to save you money even if the overall price of shipping is higher.


Does USPS Ship Internationally?

Yes, USPS ships internationally and offers several options for shipment and a variety of online tools that can help you get started. If you choose to sell to international markets, you will find several mail class options available that are affordable enough to meet most of your shipping needs. Along with USPS, companies also have several other carriers to choose from if you want to ship internationally that include FedEx, UPS, and DHL.


Apply for International Shipping Insurance

Once you decide on all of the above, it is time to look at your shipping insurance options. Most carriers will offer a standard amount of insurance when you are shipping internationally, or you can choose to purchase additional insurance. For instance, insurance is included with all USPS Priority Mail International shipments at no additional charge. That will insure items up to $200. You have the option to purchase additional insurance for an extra fee. The amount of additional insurance you can buy through USPS cannot be higher than $5,000. That said, having 3rd party insurance is a great way to go if you want more comprehensive coverage and need higher limits or coverage for specific types of commodities.

If you need shipping insurance beyond what USPS and other carriers can provide, you should consider the insurance coverage policies offered here at Cabrella. When you apply for international shipping insurance, you will find that our policies are up to 90% less than the rates of other common carriers. To learn more about international shipping insurance, and how it can benefit your eCommerce business, get in touch with our expert team today.

Tags: #internationalshipping

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