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Understanding International Shipping

Cross border shipping refers to packages that cross international borders. This involves customs clearance and often the payment of any applicable custom duty and taxes. Shipping across the border has its challenges, but it can also provide a whole new market for selling your products. Here are some important things you should know when shipping internationally.

1. Customs Clearance

When shipping from one country to another, the customs department of various countries will be stringent in enforcing their customs guidelines.

When a package arrives in the destination country, it must first clear customs. The customs process will determine the shipment’s eligibility for entering the country and check whether any duties or taxes apply. You may want to reference this list of international duty limits before you ship.

In general, the buyer is responsible for paying the duties, taxes, and customs clearance fees. These charges vary widely and are often based on the price and type of item, package weight and dimensions, origin country, and the taxes, duties, and fees of the destination country.

If your shipment is subject to duties and taxes, the recipient may be required to pay them either before or upon delivery. Unfortunately, these fees cannot be paid in advance, so we recommend communicating with your customers in advance or clearly stating your policy on your website.

Customs officers can examine any package as they see fit. If any information is improperly declared, this can lead to your package being delayed or returned. This is why having a clear, detailed description and accurate value is important. Falsely declaring a shipment’s contents or value is illegal. Customers may ask you to do this so they don’t have to pay import taxes but remember, you will be liable if it is discovered.

2. Managing the Coronavirus Pandemic

The current pandemic has impacted shipping greatly, with many countries taking extensive precautionary measures to prevent the continued spread of the virus.

The slow pace of customs clearance will certainly affect international shipping delivery times as limited transportation creates a backlog for many carriers. At this time, the availability of transportation remains limited due to government restrictions and extra safety measures. Some countries have even suspended mail delivery in the face of these measures.

Check our blog to keep up to date and communicate with your customers to set expectations. Remember, delivery times are estimates and not guaranteed, especially during this time. Most carriers have suspended any service guarantees and it’s important to take this into account with your customers.

3. Prohibited Items

Various countries restrict the entry of different items. It’s important to be diligent and research your products when shipping internationally.

There are differences between restricted and prohibited items. Find details in our previous blog post: Compliance: Prohibited vs Restricted.

4. International Shipping Address Format

Shipping can also take more time if you don’t adhere to the prescribed international shipping address formats. All countries have a specific address format and it’s important to understand this to avoid delays and missing information. USPS provides a great resource for international address formatting for their postage.

5. Tracking

Tracking allows you to follow your package along its journey. Depending on the service used to ship your international package, tracking may not be end to end. Read our previous blog post that breaks down how to track international shipments with Chit Chats.

By considering these factors international shipping can expand your client base and ultimately grow your business. It’s always important to do your research and understand the different nuances when shipping worldwide.