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How to Package and Ship Internationally

When shipping items internationally, the process can be a bit more involved than shipping domestically. Without taking the proper steps and gathering the correct information it’s easy for items to get caught up within transit, experience issues with foreign customs, or worse, not arrive at all. While it might seem overwhelming to consider sending goods to a different country, by knowing the correct methods of shipping internationally anyone can successfully ship items, regardless of how far the journey will be. 

In this article, we’ll explore how to ship a package internationally, what information needs to be collected, as well as some of the expected fees associated. Shipping internationally is made simple with Paper Mart’s helpful guide! 

image of a toy plane on top of wrapped boxes

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Internationally?

Due to the complexities of international shipping, fees generally tend to run a little higher. Shipping rates are determined by a few different factors such as the package’s weight, desired delivery speed, and selected shipping courier services. Each courier has unique benefits, for example, UPS has the broadest international coverage while USPS has less coverage but cheaper rates. Let’s explore a few express courier services to get a glimpse of what those looking to ship packages internationally might anticipate. 

  • UPS®: While UPS’ rates will always be specific to the item, destination, and desired delivery window. UPS delivers to over 220 countries with expedited shipping options as well as in-house custom clearance included in the price. Shipping costs can be calculated through UPS’ international shipment calculator. 
  • U.S. Postal Service® (USPS): For Priority Mail International shipments through USPS, prices start at $28.50, with delivery to more than 190 countries. Shipments include tracking, flat-rate boxes, and insurance for items up to $100. The anticipated delivery window is 6-10 business days. 
  • FedEx®: While FedEx is known as being the most expensive international shipping courier, they’re hugely popular for the speedy delivery times and online tools that allow shippers to understand the shipment process. Get a FedEx rate to calculate specific shipping costs.

How to Ship Packages Internationally: Step-by-Step

When learning how to ship a package internationally, it’s important to understand that the process will be unique to what is being shipped and where. Here is a general step-by-step guide for successfully shipping products internationally.

Step One: Make Sure the Item Can be Shipped

When shipping internationally there are two steps, making sure the item can be sent and ensuring the item can also be received without too much hassle. Many foreign countries have different regulations than a domestic shipment would, so checking origin-specific guidelines is highly suggested. Additionally, some foreign parties are downright prohibited from receiving US items so it’s always a good idea to verify the recipient will be able to receive the shipment at all.

Many of these regulations will have to do with the commodity itself, the nature of the shipment, and what the export and import process will demand. Depending on the item and specific country, shippers may be required to obtain an export license. Numerous goods are not permitted to be shipped from the US anywhere without some form of permit. Some of these items include, but are not limited to:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Explosives
  • Nail Polish
  • Ammunition
  • Dry Ice
  • Aerosols
  • Fresh Fruit/Vegetables
  • Cigarettes/Cannabis/Hemp-based products

Step Two: Select a Courier to Help Clear Customs

Once you’ve determined that your item can be shipped, it’s time to consider the matter of customs. For businesses that ship thousands of goods internationally, we suggest finding a customs broker to help expedite the shipment process. This is because sellers and international buyers need to determine at which point during transit the buyer might be expected to pay fees, from insurance fees to custom clearance costs. If you’re curious about how to ship a package internationally to a loved one or friend, it’s typical for the sender to pay these fees when choosing their courier.

Step Three: Gather Information for Customs Documents and Shipping Label

Once you’ve become well-acquainted with the customs requirements, it’s time to collect the information needed to create a shipping label and provide the proper customs documentation. Outside of determining who is responsible for paying transportation charges, duties, and taxes, it’s also critical to gather the below information:

  • The purpose of the shipment
  • Nature of shipment (document or commodity?)
  • The item’s value and quantity 
  • The item’s country of origin/manufacture
  • The item’s intended use
  • Estimated duties and taxes

Once this has all been gathered, shippers can determine which customs documents will be necessary to successfully ship their package internationally. The most common of these documents seen will be the Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, and more. These documents will be unique to each shipment’s origin and destination as well as the commodity being shipped. All of these documents need to be correct to ensure a successful shipment.

Step Four: Create an International Shipping Label

At this stage, you’ve likely decided upon a courier such as FedEx, UPS, or USPS. These shipping services can assist those first learning how to ship packages internationally as well as provide an international shipping label, online or in-person. The shipping label will need to include sender and recipient names, addresses, and phone numbers as well as the commodity’s description, quantity, value, and weight. Once a label has been created, the courier can calculate the shipping rates and provide customs documents that will be necessary.

Step Five: Fill Out and Submit Customs Documents

As long as shipment content information is consistently communicated within all customs documents, shippers can anticipate a smooth customs process. By properly gathering the information from step three, filling out customs documents is much simpler. Once completed customs documents can be submitted in a few ways. Shippers can submit documents manually by including them with the shipment or electronically through your desired courier. Depending on the courier it can even be possible to have these documents sent before the item’s clearance for expedited approval.  

Step Six: Properly Package and Prepare the Shipment

After completing all necessary customs documents, it’s time to print out the shipping label, slip it into a weather-proof pouch, and carefully tape it to the shipping container. Make sure the label is visible without any obtrusion or warping of the recipient’s address or barcode. Many packages have been returned solely due to haphazard packaging methods, so it’s important to ensure the item is packaged correctly. 

How to Prepare a Package for International Shipping

Packaging requirements will typically vary based on which courier has been selected and their specific packaging regulations. With the proper materials and planning, anyone can package their international goods professionally.

  • Choose a sturdy and reliable shipping container that is appropriately sized for the commodity. 
  • Prepare the item for shipment by wrapping it in bubble wrap which ensures items are safe from any rough transit situations. 
  • Fill any loose space within the box with packing foam to reduce movement if needed. 
  • Tape up the package with clear shipping tape, verifying that the shipping label is not hidden.

Once this has been completed it’s time to head to your local shipping carrier service and send your package on its way. By carefully planning out your shipment and gathering the necessary customs and shipment information, you’ll be able to send items all over the world without any worry!

Learn How to Ship Packages Internationally Correctly with Paper Mart!

As we have learned, when learning how to ship a package internationally it’s smart to package and prepare the parcel according to foreign and domestic standards. At Paper Mart we have a vast selection of packaging supplies perfect for shipping packages correctly to destinations near and far. From packing tape and shipping containers to fragile stickers, we have everything you need. By following our simple steps for international shipping, you can save yourself worry, time, and money in the long run. Explore Paper Mart’s packing and shipping supplies today!

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