Shipping Clothes Internationally: The Hidden Shipping Costs and Two Tips to Avoid Them

Cover Image for Shipping Clothes Internationally: The Hidden Shipping Costs and Two Tips to Avoid Them

When you think of international shipping, the first thing you’d probably think of is clothes. Clothing and accessories are one of the biggest shipping categories in the world, regardless of whether its e-commerce selling skirts, or relatives delivering hand-me-downs.

However, there is a hidden (and expensive) shipping cost of delivering clothes. For example, sending a bunch of old clothes to France may weigh 4kg in total (which costs $56.69), but the shipping bill might charge $79.98 for 6.5 kg (a $20++ increase in price!). How is this possible?

In this article, I will show you the biggest, common mistake many customers make in shipping clothes. Then, I will show you how to avoid this pitfall and reduce your shipping costs.

The Horror Story: Customer; Clothes; Shipping to France from Singapore

One of our customers wanted to ship a ton of hand-me-downs to his relatives in France (some of the clothes were really cute).

However, it’s very easy to forget that shipping companies will charge you for the volumetric weight (aka the size of your package, not the weight itself) if it Is larger than the actual weight of your package. Shipping companies will multiply the dimensions of your package and divide it by 5000 to get the volumetric weight. You will be charged for whichever weight is higher (actual or volumetric).

Quick example: the clothes were only 4kg, but if you packed them in a standard size moving box, their volumetric weight would be 6.5 kg thanks to the box’s size. That’s an increase of $20++!

Unfortunately, clothes are the usual suspects when it comes to shipping trip-ups like this. This is because they are light – so we think that we will only be charged the actual weight – but also take up a lot of space!

If our customer randomly fit his clothes into the standard size moving box, his cost would have been $79.98.

So, how do you avoid this?

1# The Antidote to Hidden Costs – The Poly-Mailer

First up: the good ole poly-mailer. Shipping companies have long recognized the need for a shipping option that doesn’t require a customer to take out a ruler and measure their box.

How does a poly-mailer work? Simple. Poly-mailers are issued in standard sizes. As long as you can fit your item into a poly mailer, you can ship it out at the actual weight. That’s right – no need to measure your package to determine volumetric weight!

Here are some examples of our FedEx Pak (Poly-Mailers) that we used recently to fulfill the international shipments of a huge e-commerce seller.

Polymailers for shipping

However, most shipping companies will not pack your items into a poly-mailer for you. At JustShip, one of the ways we reduce the shipping costs for our customers is to try and fit it into our FedEx Pak Poly-Mailer. This is part of our pack and ship service, where we will pick and pack your unpackaged items to ensure the lowest shipping costs possible. Contact us now to find out more.

2# The Antidote to Hidden Costs – Good Packing

Poly-mailers might sound great, but they usually aren’t big enough for some shipments. Let’s return to our customer shipping hand-me-down to France – he was shipping a mountain of clothes – there was no way all of that would fit into a poly-mailer!

In the absence of a poly-mailer, you need good packing. That is, you need to make sure that your package is custom fit to your item(s) exact specifications, so you don’t waste any unnecessary space.

Our packer, Ramesh, managed to fit the clothes into one of our custom-sized boxes. The result? We brought down his shipping costs by 1.5 kg – saving him $ 17.

At JustShip, we offer packing services as part of our all-in-one shipping services. Don’t waste unnecessary dollars on shipping because you can’t find a good box! Contact us now.


Clothes are deceptively cheap to ship because they are light. But make no mistake – clothes take up space. And the more space you take up, and the bigger your package, the more you will pay in Shipping Fees. To avoid this, see if you can fit your clothes into a poly-mailer, and try packing them properly to reduce volumetric weight and save on shipping fees.

Or, you can just leave the packing to us at JustShip, where we will pack your items securely and cost-efficiently. We have shipped clothes and accessories many times (for e-commerce retailers and normal folks), so you can trust us when we say we know what we’re doing with your fabrics. Get a Quote now!

February 10, 2021

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