Whether your business has international customers or you just need to send a gift to a remote relative, you might need to know how to ship internationally. There are several things to think about when your shipment needs to cross borders, such as customs costs and international laws. After that, preparing your shipment is similar to when you ship domestically.
1. Check shipping restrictions
Depending on where and what you’re shipping, your shipment may be subject to restrictions on size, amount or weight. Some products might not even be allowed in the country you’re shipping to. Some restrictions are represented by a country’s laws, whereas others are imposed by shipping services. It’s important to check with your local postal service to determine these restrictions.
- Restrictions aren’t always obvious. For example, Vietnam doesn’t allow the importation of calendars. It’s always better to check rather than assuming there are no restrictions on your shipment.
2. Fill out necessary customs documents
Customs documents are required whenever goods cross borders. The form itself will vary depending on the destination country, but almost all need information on the sender, recipient, and the shipment itself. The form will usually need you to specify what you’re shipping and its value. This is to determine if any customs or duty fees apply to your shipment.
- Your local postal service will usually have the customs forms you need on hand, and are usually able to help you complete them.
- Be as specific as you can when describing the contents of your shipment.
3. Place your customs documents in the correct spot
Some custom documents need to be placed in your shipment, while others need to be stuck on the outside, somewhere visible. Make sure you know which is needed, so you’ll know how to include it in your shipment.
4. Research customs and duty costs
It’s important to know these fees ahead of time, so you can factor them into your budget or charge them to your recipient. A quick google search including the destination for your shipment can help you find online databases or calculators to figure out these fees.
5. Consider hiring a customs broker
This is especially important if you’re shipping commercial goods or ship across borders regularly. A customs broker will serve as a liaison between you and the customs authorities in the destination country. They not only can help make sure your shipment abides by all applicable laws and regulations, but they can help you determine duty and other fees.
6.Address and label your shipment
Make sure the recipient’s address is included in its entirety and clearly visible. Don’t forget to include the postal code and any apartment or suite numbers. Include your address as well, so the shipment can be returned to you if there are any issues.
- Some customs documents need to be stuck on top of your shipment. If that’s the case, make sure it doesn’t obscure either address.
- It’s a good idea to include phone numbers and email addresses for both yourself and your recipient. That way, you can be contacted if there are any problems along the way.
7. Get a tracking number
Most postal services will offer the ability to track your package. This allows you to follow along online, knowing exactly where your package is. This is crucial for international shipping; you’ll know if your package ends up stuck at customs.
- If you’re shipping an item to a customer, you should provide them with the tracking number.