Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shipping Internationally - Small Business Tips

Last week I talked about Shipping From Home and how it can be great for your business. This week is all about Shipping Internationally. I've been shipping quite a few packages out of the country lately and I encourage you to add International Shipping to your shop if you haven't already. You could be missing out on a lot of sales!

Do Your Research

My first tip is to do your research! Each country will have different shipping rates, customs fees and import laws. You are responsible for knowing whether your item can be shipped to a certain country.

Setting Your Rates

That being said, it is pretty easy to get a "general" rate for most international shipments. I have found that rates to Canada are pretty comparable to US rates when shipping First Class International. And all other countries are about double. Keep in mind that these are general rules and different weights will be different.

Choosing a Shipping Option

I use USPS First Class International for almost all of my packages. This seems to be the most standard and most cost effective option. I have shipped international packages with Priority and Express when the customer requests it and I just send them a paypal invoice for the additional shipping. There are only two problems I have run into with First Class International...There is no tracking information available after the package leaves the US. And you have to go to the post office to ship your package (unless paypal changes back to shipping through ebay). And keep in mind that shipping times may vary greatly from one country to another. I always tell my customers that shipping can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Depending on how long the item stays in customs can determine how fast your package arrives.

One main reason I use USPS for all international packages is because UPS and FedEx will charge your customers a brokerage fee upon delivery. If you use these services, make sure your buyers are aware of this fee ahead of time!

Update Your Policies

It is also a good idea to add a note to your policies that buyers are responsible for customs fees. Most buyers are aware of this, but it is a good idea to have a set policy. Buyers who have never purchased from the US may not be aware of this and you need to have a clear policy for them.

Custom Forms

There are two different customs forms depending on the size of your package. You can find this information at the usps website, or ask your postal clerk when you bring your package in. My biggest advice for customs forms is to NEVER mark a package as a "gift". The newer style of forms has a "merchandise" option...otherwise, mark "other". You can be charged a hefty fine for marking a sold item as a gift! And make sure to put an accurate description and cost on the form as well. This can help your package make it through customs quickly and safely :)

I hope you found these tips helpful and will consider shipping internationally if you don't already :)

Stay tuned for more articles on shipping tips for this blog -- Shipping Series.
* Shipping From Home
* Shipping Internationally
* Shipping with UPS
* Shipping Suppliers


Edi is the creative mind behind Memories for Life Scrapbooks (and Laser Engraving). She has been paper crafting for over 15 years and recently purchased a laser engraver that is keeping her creativity at an all time high!


Abby / Linda said...

I didn't know about marking something a gift! Thanks for the info--all of it!

Memories for Life said...

Glad you liked it Abby (Linda) :)

I hope everyone is enjoying the series so far...two more posts to come!

BeadedTail said...

Great information Edi! I've marked packages as gifts for some of my blog friends in the U.K. - oops! I used to use that green custom form but our post office will only accept the new forms now so I can't use those.

Rose Clearfield said...

I have marked items as gifts as well. It's good to know that newer forms have a merchandising option.

Thanks for all of the great tips, Edi!

Kathleen said...

Great information! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Edi! I agree that it's annoying not to be able to ship regular post via paypal for international. I would NEVER pay for priority just for the convenience- too much! And I agree that it does suck to not have tracking info with regular post. Somehow that needs to change! Good ideas though...I think I need to update my shop policies!

Judy Nolan said...

These are great guidelines, Edi. I use exactly the same ones for international shipping.

Lugless said...

Thanks for sharing these tips.Mostly these tips are very helpful for us Choosing a Shipping Option,Setting Your Rates,Update Your Policies
Student storage

Unknown said...

I think most of the important point is researching for your service before making it final.It can give you the idea that you should go for that service or not...

Moving to Australia

Andi said...

Thanks so much for sharing this information. Currently, I have only one shipping profile & that's only to the US/Canada. Now that I've got some knowledge, I'll be able to add more options and hopefully generate more sales!

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