How To Rate-Shop International Shipping

U.S. export earnings are rising, making international rate shopping more important than ever. By means of example, below are printed prices for a typical 10-pound parcel delivered from my fulfillment company located in Traverse City, Mich. to a client’s customer located in London, England.
  • UPS Worldwide Express (1-3 times ): $166.98
  • UPS Worldwide Saver (1-3 times ): $160.91
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited (2-5 times ): $148.54
  • USPS Global Express Guaranteed (1-3 times ): $132.53
  • USPS Express Mail International (3-5 days): $68.08
  • USPS Priority Mail International (6-10 times ): $52.68

As you see, the possible cost spread for this normal package is over $100. And should you send in bulk, picking the incorrect shipping method could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Calculation of International Delivery Rates Is Complicated

Most international parcel shipping services are provided by FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. The cost factors are so complicated, it is best to use the online price calculators provided by each supplier to do your rate shopping, as follows.

Bundle size relative to shipping weight is an important cost consideration as international rates are subject to dimensional weight minimums and there are complicated rules that involve product limitations, legitimate addresses, insurance policy etc.. To read more on dimensional weight issues, see “Shipping: Dimensional Weight Errors Can Cost Big Bucks,” I wrote previously for this particular novel.

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USPS Priority Mail International Is the Most Popular Ship Method

My company ships about 120,000 international packages annually and the massive bulk of them are delivered via USPS Priority Mail International, although packages under four pounds are sometimes sent via First Class Mail International (which does not provide tracking) because of the reduced rates.

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You may use the USPS online rate calculator to process your international packages right from your desktop computer. You’re going to need to know the destination country, package dimensions and weight, as well as the item description and customs value for each bundle. You may print your shipping labels and customs declaration forms from the online system or you could buy a supply of free customs forms online in the USPS shop .

Priority Mail International Flat Rate Boxes Could Save Even More Money

The USPS delivers international flat rate delivery as it does domestic delivery, and if your goods have sufficient transport weight per cubic inch to make the numbers work; this feature could save you considerable expense.

International Shipping in Volume Demands Some Added Technology

The online postal calculator is extremely great for low volume international shipping, but larger processing volume will require an automated system. There are numerous options available, for example and Pitney Bowes, but we use Endicia.

You can hand enter individual package info or preload batches of addresses as files. The system computes your postage and prints a USPS tag and the needed customs declaration forms automatically.

If you ship a wonderful number of packages that all have precisely the specific contents, then you can print your labels and customs forms as a batch to speed your pick, pack and ship processing. This is just what my company does whenever we can.

Priority Mail International includes delivery confirmation tracking and limited insurance, but it is a excellent idea to add extra insurance for valuable packages when required.

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International Mail Consolidators Could Save Time and Money

As your transportation volume grows, you may want to consider use of an international email consolidator services. This is a company which gathers thousands of international mail packages from its clients and delivers them directly to the postal system of each destination country.

Based on the services that you use, an international consolidator can both accelerate your package processing and provide great postal rate reductions.

Using the search term”international mail consolidators” you will see dozens of companies offering this service though the one that we use is UPS Mail Innovations.

Some Fulfillment Companies Have International Branches

If you outsource order fulfillment, you’ll discover several U.S. satisfaction companies which maintain branches in a variety of countries. Additionally it is possible to contract directly with a non-U.S. based fulfillment house. This requires you to split your inventory plus cover the extra responsibilities and freight costs to the overseas location, but this is a means to accelerate delivery of export orders.

Duties and Taxes Are Always an Issue

Nearly all our clients send their international orders with import duties and foreign taxes paid by the customer upon delivery. In Canada, there is an additional $5.00 processing fee charged by Canada Post to cover collection of these taxes and fees. UPS and FedEx provide a broker and collection service, too, but the cost is a great deal higher. A wonderful resource on this topic is the USPS international guide.

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Extra Packaging Is Essential

Domestic parcel processing systems are tough enough on shipping cartons and protective wrapping, but international shipping is a whole lot more demanding. The best international packaging technique is a box within a box with paper or bubble wrap between the inside and outside cartons.

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Butif this is not affordable in your small company, a fantastic choice is use of heavy duty cartons (ULINE is a fantastic source) and extra interior wrapping. In any case, it’s vital that your shipping label shows both your return address and the shipping address clearly and completely.


Export sales volume is increasing and this makes international rate shopping a much more significant part your order processing management. The usage of the UPS, FedEx and USPS online pricing systems is the best way to rate shop because of the complexity of the many shipping alternatives and the gigantic cost differences involved. Plus package processing automation, parcel consolidation solutions and possible foreign warehouse solutions can further improve your cost savings over time.

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