How To Ship Internationally

Navigating international shipping for your business can seem overwhelming, but with the right steps and tools, it can be efficient and stress-free. In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of shipping internationally to help you streamline your operations.

What You’ll Need

Before we start, be sure to gather the following materials:

  • Sender's and receiver's name(s) and address
  • A list of items being sent
  • Packaging materials

Step 1: Understand Shipping Restrictions

International shipping involves import and export regulations for both origin and destination countries. Research these regulations to avoid issues with restricted products or required documentation. Additionally, consider taxes, duties, and fees associated with international shipping to prevent unexpected costs and maintain customer satisfaction. Here are a few for Canada, Australia, the UK, and the EU to get you started.

  • Canada: Canada has specific restrictions on items such as food, plants, animals, and certain types of equipment. You should also be aware of Canada's rules regarding import taxes and duties, which vary depending on the value and type of goods. Here's a link to Canada Border Services Agency for detailed information.
  • Australia: Australia has stringent biosecurity laws to protect its unique environment. Certain items, including plants, animal products, and some food, are prohibited or need treatment before importation. Import duties and taxes apply to most goods above a certain value. Check out the Australian Border Force website for more details.
  • United Kingdom: The UK has its own list of restricted and prohibited items, which include certain foodstuffs, counterfeit goods, and offensive weapons. Since Brexit, shipments between the EU and UK are subject to customs procedures and may require payment of VAT and duties. For comprehensive information, refer to the UK government's official guidelines.
  • European Union: The EU has specific rules for importing goods, including restrictions on items like weapons, drugs, and certain animal products. Different VAT and customs duties apply depending on the goods and their origin. Visit the European Commission's Taxation and Customs Union website for more information.

Step 2: Choose a Service

Select the most suitable carrier for your business by comparing shipping rates, delivery speeds, tracking, and insurance options among USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. If you are an EasyPost customer, be sure to take advantage of our analytic tools to compare shipping times and rates. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a carrier:

  • Shipping rates: Compare prices to find the most cost-effective option for your business. For example, USPS often provides lower prices for small, light packages, while UPS and FedEx might offer more competitive rates for heavier shipments. 
  • Delivery speed: Delivery times can also vary. For instance, DHL Express Worldwide and FedEx International Priority can deliver packages in 1-3 business days to many countries. USPS Priority Mail Express International offers delivery within 3-5 business days, while UPS Worldwide Express can deliver within 1-3 business days. Always check the estimated delivery times provided by the carrier for the specific destination.
  • Tracking and insurance: All major carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL provide detailed tracking services for international shipments. For added security, consider shipping insurance options. USPS provides up to $200 of insurance with Priority Mail Express International, while UPS, FedEx, and DHL offer declared value coverage, which allows you to set the coverage amount based on the value of your shipment.

Be sure to check out our blog post that breaks down the best international shipping options for more info.

Step 3: Prepare the Packages

Packaging your products correctly is vital to prevent damage during transit and ensure a positive customer experience. Here's how you can prepare different types of items for shipping:

  • Books and Documents: Wrap in plastic to protect against water damage, then pack in a sturdy cardboard mailer. If you're shipping multiple books, place them spine to spine and wrap them together in bubble wrap.
  • Electronics: Use anti-static bubble wrap or foam to protect against electrostatic discharge. Place the wrapped item in a box lined with foam pads. Any empty space in the box should be filled with more foam or bubble wrap to prevent movement.
  • Clothing: Fold clothes neatly and place them in a plastic bag before putting them in a shipping bag or box. If the clothes are delicate, consider wrapping them in tissue paper first.
  • Fragile Items (Glassware, Art, etc.): Wrap each item individually with bubble wrap, securing it with tape. Place the items in a box lined with foam or more bubble wrap. Remember to fill all empty spaces to prevent movement.
  • Perishable Goods: Use insulated shipping boxes and pack with refrigerants like gel coolants or dry ice, as appropriate. Seal the perishables in airtight packaging to maintain freshness.
  • Large or Heavy Items: Use a double-walled box for added strength. Secure the item with strapping, if necessary, and use plenty of cushioning material to fill any gaps.

Remember to choose the right box size—big enough to fit your items along with necessary padding, but without too much empty space that could lead to items shifting during transit. Use strong packing tape to secure your boxes and ensure they won't open during shipping.

Step 4: Create Labels and Postage

Create shipping labels for your packages using EasyPost's solution or alternative label creation options. Verify that the recipient's address, return address, and customs information are correct on the label. Purchase postage online or at a local post office, depending on your chosen carrier. EasyPost offers discounted shipping rates and convenient postage printing.

Step 5: Ship Your Packages

Finally, follow the instructions provided by your chosen carrier and send your packages on their way. 

International shipping can be a major headache, especially if not done right. But don’t worry - EasyPost's got your back! With discounted shipping rates, access to over 100 regional, national, and international carriers, and a customizable API, you'll be an international shipping pro in no time. Ready to take the plunge? Get shipping today.