International Shipping


International shipping is the process of sending goods to foreign countries via air, road, or ocean transport.

What Is International Shipping?

International shipping is the process of sending goods to foreign countries via air, road, or ocean transport. It’s a complex chain involving freight over borders, combined with various regulations and compliance requirements. To succeed with international shipping, you have to learn and follow specific policies so that your packages breeze past custom clearance.

International shipping is more complex than domestic shipping as every nation has its own laws and regulations. You’d find that some countries have stricter policies when it comes to importing certain items, while others have lax rules for the same. Hence, it’s crucial to get familiar with all the regulations or utilize a professional freight forwarder to ship your products.

International Shipping: Average Time

Based on the size of your package or the shipping mode, the shipment will take anywhere from 2 days to 4 weeks. If you send the package via air cargo, it will arrive faster than sending freight over the cargo barges or so. 

Typically, the international shipping process is made up of the following components:

Shipping in Europe

Steps to Ship Freight Internationally

Arranging international shipping can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re doing it for the very first time. No wonder so many ecommerce stores turn to professional freight forwarders to ship their orders. Below are some tips on how to ship freight to a foreign country.

Gathering Information

The first step in international shipping is gathering all shipment details and presenting them in the required state. Doing the required paperwork isn’t easy, as one small mistake could result in a costly export.

Customs Clearance

This is a crucial stage in international shipping. To avoid complexities, it’s best to use a customs broker for your freight. Brokers have the knowledge and expertise to accommodate international freights. They’ll gather the paperwork for you and navigate the customs clearing process successfully. Even if you use a freight forwarding company, they’ll recommend you use a customs broker.

Tracking the Shipment

Once your freight passes customs clearance, track it to make sure it arrives at your customer’s doorstep. Let customers track the shipment too by setting up a branded tracking page on your website. Real-time and transparent updates are important for international shipment, so make sure to install a tracking app that provides seamless updates on your packages. 

International vs. Domestic Shipping

People have been shipping goods to one another for centuries. It has become easier than ever to transport goods both domestically and internationally in our fast, modern age. But what is the difference between the two?

International Shipping vs. Domestic Shipping: Overview

The term domestic shipping covers anything that is transported within the borders of a single country. Anything sent from New York to Seattle or London to Manchester would count as domestic. As a result, domestic shipping is much quicker than international shipping. 

Generally, most shipping services will offer a two- or three-day delivery option as standard. A slightly more expensive one-day service is usually available, and now some companies can even offer same-day delivery. International shipping cannot provide quick service, as all items must be processed through import and export centers. Not only this but being transported via plane, train or boat will also add significant time.

International Shipping vs. Domestic Shipping: Delivery Paperwork

Domestic shipping requires that items are not passed over borders and are exempt from customs and import taxes. As such, all domestic deliveries require only a simple shipping label. Quicker services may also require a barcode to carry shipping information. These can be used in tracked shipping, which allows the recipient to see the item’s progress as it passes from depot to depot.

By contrast, international shipping requires much more documentation. As mentioned, international shipment requires the item to pass over multiple borders. To do this, the items and their progress must be rigorously documented. At a minimum, every package containing more than a single document must have the following:

At each stop along the way, customs officials will check each document, known as customs authorities. This is to ensure that the package conforms to each country’s import and export laws. 

International Shipping vs. Domestic Shipping: Customs Authorities

Import and export deliveries must be made via specifically appointed depots, known as customs departments. It is here that internationally shipped goods have their documents and contents checked. Assuming all paperwork is in order and goods within do not break any import/export laws, the package will be passed on for delivery.

This is also where taxes (or duty) will be paid on the goods being shipped. If the duty taxes are insufficient, the package will be held until they are paid up. After being flown or shipped to the recipient country, the package will go through another customs department. The same process will be repeated here.

Conversely, domestic shipping does not need to undergo any of these processes. So long as it is appropriately labeled, domestic packages will be passed to their designated courier without hassle.

International Shipping vs. Domestic Shipping: Restricted and Limited Goods

The rules regarding imports are very strict. Any packages which do not carry the correct paperwork or restricted goods will be taken away for destruction. The goods that are restricted will vary from country to country. Most will completely restrict foodstuffs unless properly packaged. Some countries restrict goods such as computer hardware.

With international shipping, many goods are also restricted according to flight laws. Flammable goods, liquids, or items like batteries are generally restricted aboard planes, and pilots can refuse to transport goods they believe are unsafe. As all packages must be shipped with a complete packing list, it will be easy for authorities to locate restricted items.

Shipping domestically is much less limiting. While some items will always be banned from shipping – such as large quantities of chemicals – other goods such as food or batteries are not. While it does pay to check each state’s specific lists of restricted goods, they will be much more lenient than shipping internationally.