How to ship a package internationally: easy and fast steps to use AUGUST 09, 20217 MIN READ
How to ship a package internationally: easy and fast steps to use

International shipping is how goods move across borders. It is the reason why you can use a product manufactured in China in the United States. It is also how, as a UK-based manufacturer, you can get your products in the hands of people in Brazil.

With the increase in globalization, international shipping has been adopted by many more than ever before. This is especially true of ecommerce operators: international shipping enables them to broaden their market and sell more. According to Statista, retail ecommerce sales globally in 2020 totaled 4.28 trillion dollars1. This number is projected to rise higher by 2022.

If you have an interest in international shipping, this article will serve as a guide. By the end, you should have a basic idea of how to navigate it with little to no hassles.

Read on to learn more!

What is international shipping?

International shipping refers to importing and exporting goods from one country to another via different transportation mediums, like trains, ships, and airplanes.

International shipping is a vast and complex process, especially since it involves the movement of goods across sovereign states' borders. Every country has rules and regulations regarding the importation and exportation of goods within it, which you have to adhere to. If you fail to do this, you will run afoul of that country's laws and be subject to, including confiscation of your goods.

However, whether you are shipping products for personal use or reselling across countries and continents, you are engaging in it. But then, the degree of involvement is what will differ.

What is expedited international shipping?

Expedited international shipping allows goods and packages to be delivered more quickly. It is an international delivery service for people who want to move fragile or perishable items or who simply need to deliver certain items as soon as possible. It is more expensive than other types of this process.

How does international shipping work?

As we have mentioned, international shipping is a complex process. It is so complex that many people will consider it hard. However, this is not the case. It is not much different from domestic shipping, albeit more expensive.

With the right knowledge, you can easily navigate international shipping, especially if you have experience with shipping domestically. It does not matter whether you are a buyer or seller; as long as you want to get goods from one destination to another, you can engage in it.

If you are curious about how international shipping works, please, read on.

Step-by-step guide on shipping products internationally

  • Order placement: Like we said, international shipping works like domestic shipping. As a result, the entire process starts with order placement. It doesn't matter whether you are the buyer or the seller; an order must be placed.
  • Order fulfillment: After a customer has placed an order, the next step is to fulfill that order. At this stage, the order will be packaged and a shipping label affixed to it. If you are a seller or an ecommerce operator, you can outsource to a 3PL firm. 3PL stands for third-party logistics. In the case of international shipping, the packaged product will have a completed custom form. By the way, effective packaging is an effective way to save cost and increase revenue. This article provides concrete ways to do this.
  • Order shipment: Next, the packaged order will be forwarded to the post office or shipment center for this purpose.
  • Order export: The package will be forwarded to its destination via the preferred shipping method at this stage.
  • Order import: The next step after exporting an order is import. At this stage, the product arrives at its destination. Then, the customs officers will scan it and calculate what charges are to be paid.
  • Order notification: Here, the recipient will be notified that they have a package for pickup. However, whether their package is released depends on whether they pay the calculated duties, charges, and fees or not. If they fail to do this, their package will be withheld.
  • Order delivery: The final step where the intended recipient picks up their package.

And that is how international shipping works!

8 rules for shipping internationally

If you intend to ship internationally, there are certain rules you can follow to make the process easier. In this section, we will provide you with some of these rules.

Let's get started!

Find out if there is a demand for your product

The first rule you should abide by is to ensure there is a demand for your product. Simply put, determine if people in the country intend to ship to want and use your product. For example, imagine a sweater manufacturer who ships most of their products to a hot and arid country. That product will almost certainly have record low sales. However, if the manufacturer had conducted proper research, they would know this and do what is necessary.

For example, this article has a list of products that sell well in Italy based on research. If you were looking to export to the country, you should conduct such a research, but with more depth.

Ensure you know how your product's destination regulates it

Is your product taxable in the intended destination? How do they tax it? What customs duty, taxes, and fees do they charge? What impact will all of these have on your products? With all duties, taxes, and fees, will you be able to make a profit at the end of the day?

If you want to provide an international shipping service, you have to know how the country(ies) you will be shipping regulates the product and its impact on it.

Using a parcel consolidator lowers the cost

If you are an ecommerce operator whose packages aren't heavy, you can reduce the international shipping cost by using a parcel consolidator.

How does this work?

It starts with you sending your package to a shipping center. There, it will be consolidated on a pallet with other packages headed for the same country.

There are several advantages to doing this. For example, the consolidated packages will go through customs together. After that, they will be distributed via the local post. With this process, you can ship packages across borders more easily. Also, you will reduce costs – shipping and cross-border.

If you frequently need to ship low-weight packages internationally, this method is best for you.

Shipping automation software eases the process

If you can, develop a shipping automation software that your customers can use. Users can import orders from larger marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, thereby reducing input errors. Further, it allows sellers to automatically print labels, figure out where orders are, and track them.

Technology-based rate shopping provides better estimates

Shipping software that has a rate shopping feature enables shippers to determine which international courier service has the best rate for their intended destination.

Electronic trade documentation will save you time

Another rule of international shipping is that electronic trade documentation saves time and eases the process. Consequently, use a shipper that provides electronic trade documentation for your international deliveries.

Misrepresenting your products can have unintended consequences

The international shipping process is strict and unforgiving. So, do your best to do everything abide by the book. Do not misrepresent your package and what it contains. Do not try to outsmart the system. The reason for this is that if you are caught, your package can be confiscated, delayed, or worse.

Assume your package will be roughly handled

Another rule you should play by when engaging in international shipping is to operate under the assumption that your package will be roughly handled. Hence, package it tightly to protect it. This is especially true if your item is fragile. And no, appending the "FRAGILE" tag won't help much.

And there you have it! Eight rules to abide by for an excellent international shipping experience.

4 steps to start international shipping

Starting international shipping is quite straightforward. However, it requires you to consider several factors, some of which are mentioned below.

Know what you are shipping

The first rule of international shipping is to know the items you will be shipping. This is primarily because it is necessary if you want to complete the commercial invoice. In addition, you have to be careful and precise when completing the important customs forms. The reason for this is that it is necessary for all non-document international shipments.

Further, you have to clearly describe the items you are shipping, making sure to note the following:

  • the number of units
  • the total number of shipments
  • the item's country of origin, which differs from its destination country

Determine the item's destination country and location

Next, you have to determine the item's destination country. Many small and middle-sized businesses in the United States begin international shipping by shipping to Canada and Mexico. It is advised that you also begin international shipping with countries that are close to you and easy to access. However, you don't have to stop there. Take it a step further by making international deliveries to destinations with free trade agreements with your country.

Specify the recipient

Ensure to include full and accurate contact details about your recipient in your commercial invoice form. This will help to hasten the process by providing answers to the customer's questions about your consignee.

Decide the delivery times for your business

When shipping internationally, you have to note one thing: the cost of shipping determines how fast the item will be delivered. That is to say: the more money you pay for a delivery, the faster it will arrive.

Sell on

Alibaba is a B2B e-commerce company that launched in 1999. Based in China, this international commerce company is a great channel for sellers to market their goods across boundaries.

If you are a B2B seller looking to expand your horizon and scale your business, it is the perfect platform for you. It has multiple features that will simplify selling. Some of them are demand forecasting, secure payments, lead generation, and advertising. As a result, you can focus on other, more important aspects of your business like developing better products.

If you want to take your B2B business to the next level, register on Alibaba today. The process is simple and intuitive. Also, it is fast and you can have your digital storefront up and running in little time.

References 1: