What You Need to Know When Shipping Internationally

Know everything there is to know about international shipping so you can reach your customers quickly and smoothly wherever they may live.

With online shopping growing in popularity, sellers are able to offer their products to buyers in countries a far away from their own. Both parties benefit from the growing global market as buyers have a wider selection to choose from and sellers have a greater number of potential customers. We know that accessible ecommerce websites, as well as reliable and frequent international shipping services make this exchange possible. That’s why these advantages make offering international shipping options a no-brainer. However, it does require sellers to become savvy to shipping regulations. Here is a list of things to consider before making the switch. 

1. Customs Clearance

The first thing to consider when shipping to a new location are the customs regulations on goods imported into the destination country. Depending on the restrictions, you might find the necessary details required or regulations are too stringent and will cause frustration for both yourself and your customer.

The EU now requires that packages also list the recipient’s phone number for customs and delivery purposes. To give your packages the best chance at a successful delivery, make sure you provide an accurate and detailed description of the product. This includes the value of the items and if possible any related tax reference numbers (i.e. IOSS, VAT, etc.). You can read more about these required fields in our previous blog post

2. Customs Fees

Another area of international shipping that can cause some headache is the required customs fees and duties. In general, the buyer is responsible for reconciling the related duties and taxes when sending the item, or when the package reaches the customs office. The amount customs charges will depend on a number of factors including the destination country, the retail value of the item, and the contents (gift, purchased merchandise, returned goods etc.).

In the case of Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) postage types, the import fees are paid for in advance of shipping. Often this can be at the point of purchase. Our Chit Chats International Tracked service offers DDP postage to a number of destinations to help your packages transit smoothly through customs. For Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU) postage, the import fees are not paid for in advance and your customers will need to monitor their tracking for any notifications from customs.

Packages can be examined and checked for compliance at any point. If they are found to be inaccurately declared for value or content descriptions, the item can be delayed or returned. Falsely declaring a shipment’s contents to avoid paying import taxes or duties is illegal. Customers may ask you to do this to avoid the extra cost but remember, you will be liable if it is discovered. 

3. Prohibited Items

An item will typically fall into the prohibited shipping category if its contents are illegal in the destination country, or not considered safe to transport. Such illegal items might be obvious, but other prohibited items such as nail polish might not be as widely known. Shippers must also be aware of the difference between a country’s prohibited items, and the carrier’s list of restricted items. When you sign up to ship with Chit Chats, you agree to uphold our Shipment Compliance Declaration. Our declaration clearly outlines what products you can and cannot ship such as food, medicine, perfume, and cannabis to name a few. A list of Chit Chats’s and our partner carrier’s restricted items can be found on our website

Carrier Restrictions

4. COVID-19 Shipping Delays & Restrictions

The combination of extensive COVID-19 precautionary measures and the increase in shipment volumes has impacted shipping greatly. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen many postal carriers report significant delays due to the cancellation of flights, limited staff and resources. At this time, the situation has yet to stabilize. Countries like Australia, which have been in lockdown until very recently, have suspended their shipping services. To keep yourself, and your customers updated about the current delivery times, please check our blog regularly. We always make sure to post the latest service updates from our partner carriers. We also recommend bookmarking our partner carriers’ service alert pages to make sure you are always in the know. 

Carrier Alerts

And remember, delivery times are always estimates and not guaranteed, especially during this time. Most carriers have suspended any service guarantees and it’s important to take this into account when communicating with your customers.

5. International Shipping Addresses

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 missing information. USPS provides a great resource for international address formatting for their postage. When in doubt, always check with your customer as incorrect addresses can cause delays or return shipments. 

6. Tracking

Tracking is another great shipping tool to monitor the journey of your international package. Customers typically prefer to buy from stores that offer tracked shipping options so they can be notified about their order’s whereabouts. 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.

Understanding the different factors related to international shipping, we admit, can be challenging at first. Luckily, we have plenty of experience. We’re happy to share everything we know so you can grow your business and begin selling to customers all over the world. If you ever need help, feel free to drop a line to our support team.

When shipping internationally, it is always a good idea to plan for the unexpected with insurance. Opting for Chit Chats Insurance, means that the value of an eligible shipment will be reimbursed should it go missing or arrive damaged. 

Coverage for Chit Chats International Insurance starts as low as $1.49 for coverage of up to $100 USD. This extra layer of protection provides peace of mind for sellers who often ship internationally.

Insure your shipments for less

Gain peace of mind. Starting at just $1.49 for your international shipments.