8 Things to Consider When Shipping Products Internationally

The e-commerce industry has experienced a boom since the onset of the pandemic. The ease of purchasing online from any part of the world and access to international markets has resulted in a massive surge in e-commerce sales worldwide. Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $6.5 trillion in 2023, making up over 22% of total retail sales. This provides a tremendous opportunity for SMBs to expand their business operations to multiple countries worldwide and skyrocket their annual sales. 

However, shipping products internationally is considerably different from shipping locally. While expanding your business internationally is a significant step for any business, it’s important to consider each aspect of participating in international markets – from product selection to supplier coordination, order processing, packaging, international shipment, and delivery. Since your products will be shipped internationally to new markets, you need in-depth knowledge of international shipping. You don’t want your product to deliver late or damaged. More so, your new endeavor can turn into a nightmare if your products are lost during shipment. To ensure successful and timely deliveries, here are eight things to consider when shipping products internationally to new markets: 

The international product shipment process varies from country to country and can become a little complicated. From shipping documents to customs, taxes, and freight forwarding, the entire procedure can be overwhelming for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Instead of working with a longer supply chain to handle your international shipment, choose a customs brokerage company. Customs brokerage solutions facilitate people and businesses to move and deliver products internationally. 

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Renowned brokerage companies like Western Overseas Corporation handle the entire shipment and delivery process – from customs and logistics to product distribution and delivery at the customer’s doorstep. Through the advanced dashboard facility, you can register as a business or individual, download and fill shipment-related documents, and track your shipment from the origin to the destination. 

  • Start Small and Expand Slowly

Going global doesn’t mean you should ship products to every country immediately. Since each country has different rules, regulations, tax structures, and import/export restrictions, you should sensibly choose the country you want to operate in. It’s typically a better strategy for small e-commerce enterprises to start small and gradually expand the business to other countries. 

Figure out where you should start shipping your products initially by conducting thorough research on product demand, international web traffic to your website, supply & distribution network, shipment costs, product pricing, and order fulfillment options. 

  • Understand the Rules and Regulations of Each Country

Understanding the compliance details for each country can be overwhelming for e-commerce businesses new to international shipping. However, you need in-depth knowledge of international shipping rules and regulations, as well as local customs and import rules for each country you’re shipping your products to. A lack of knowledge in this domain can lead to delayed deliveries, increased shipping costs, and disgruntled customers. When shipping products internationally, two aspects are of particular concern: documentation and customs fees. 


Before shipping products, you must complete the documentation process, which entails a commercial invoice and customs declaration. The commercial invoice contains the list of items that you declare with their correct value. This commercial invoice is for customs purposes. You need to attach the customs declaration form along with the commercial invoice. Be sure to declare your items clearly and avoid dubious descriptions. The declaration form will help customs staff determine what’s inside the packaging. 

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Custom Fees and Taxes

Every item you ship must pass through customs. The customs agency will determine customs duties, taxes, and other charges based on the product type, value, quantity, and origin of manufacture. They will also ensure that the products are permitted entry into the country. Customs fees are applied by both countries of origin and destination on products once they’re shipped. You must provide correct details on whether you or the recipient will pay the customs fee. For this purpose, you can choose between the free carrier (FCA), delivery duties paid (DDP), and delivery duties unpaid (DDU) options on the declaration form. 

Customs brokerage companies have the necessary documentation and duty information on hand. You only need to complete the papers and pay the calculated customs fees and tax.

  • Compare Shipping Tariffs before Booking

If you’re shipping multiple products to different countries, always consider pricing from different shipping companies, compare them, and choose the best company. Checking and comparing shipment and booking costs will help you with product pricing and future considerations for international shipments. Many international shipment and logistics companies provide an online shipment price calculator where you can enter the dimensions of your shipment and get an instant shipment tariff estimate. 

  • Consider International Insurance

No matter how careful you have been during product packaging and shipment, your product is always at risk of damage during transportation. International shipping adds complication to your delivery. It’s critical to get product shipment insurance for damages, accidents, and misplacement. Choose a shipment company that covers product insurance. Moreover, you need to choose the right level of insurance for each product depending on its value, vulnerability, and delicacy. Go through the entire procedure of filing a claim beforehand and check how each shipment service differs in terms of insurance coverage. 

  • Time of Transit

The efficiency of your business highly depends on how swiftly your product is delivered overseas. Check with your shipping company to determine the maximum transit time for product delivery. Depending on the mode of transportation, expect delivery delays from a few days to a week or more. Never commit to a definite date for international shipments, as a minor delay can lead to disgruntled customers. 

  • Product Packaging for International Shipment

When shipping internationally, you need to be extra careful with product packaging. Add additional support to fragile items, and remember to mention it on your packaging. Some countries require external labels indicating the package’s point of delivery, a list of contents inside the packaging, contact information of both business and customer, and other pertinent information. Remember to put all relevant labels on the item before shipping.

  • Go Through the Restricted Items List 

When shipping internationally, you need to check the restriction list for both your country of origin and each country you’re shipping your product to. Ensure the item you’re shipping is not on the restricted list. Customs officials confiscate items that are on the prohibited items list. Follow the best shipping practices and standard operating procedures if you’re shipping any perishable items. 

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Final Thoughts

If you had a successful few years of local business and now you’re ready to expand your business to other countries, you don’t need to feel overwhelmed with the tedious and strenuous task of international shipments. While most customs brokerage companies can help with the entire shipment and documentation procedure, sending items overseas can be a breeze if you follow the rules and regulations and thoroughly understand the entire process. Consider the above-mentioned aspects so you can ship your products internationally without disruptions and delays.

Originally posted 2022-12-30 17:03:32.


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