Updated: Sep 17, 2020
International Shipping is not difficult. However, there are some things that first-timers might overlook.
I’ll tell you some of these common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
1. Always calculate dimensional weight
The most common mistake by first-time consumers and sellers is to neglect the dimensional (also known as "volumetric") weight.
Let’s illustrate this with a common scenario: You want to send your sister a really cute, 0.5 kg plush toy. However, when you receive the bill, you might be shocked to find out that you were charged a higher fee for a 2.5 kg shipment, instead of a 0.5 kg shipment. If you’re using DHL, this can result in a difference of nearly $60!
How is this possible? Answer: You were charged for dimensional weight, and not actual weight.
If the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight, you will be charged for the dimensional weight instead. It is perfectly legal, and all shipping companies do it.
To calculate dimensional weight, you can use the FedEx calculator, or check out our article on our handy resource page. Or, you can get a quote with us and we’ll make sure you don’t get a heart attack when you see the final bill.
JustShip offers packing & shipping services. For a few extra dollars, we will wrap your items with love and care, and ship it out for you. Get a quote now for more information.
2. No prohibited goods
Did you know that sending products with meat is prohibited by US Customs? Even if your packet is sealed, US Customs is known to be extremely strict in this area. For a full list, please check this page out.
Other lists should be available on the respective Customs websites of different countries.
Other common restrictions include cash, firearms, and fresh vegetable produce. Keep them out of your packages for a smoother experience.
However, do not confuse a Prohibited Item with a Restricted Item. While we don’t recommend shipping restricted items either, it can be done with a ton of paperwork and due diligence.
3. Check customs tax and duties
Customs Taxes and Duties are hidden costs that are frequently overlooked. The good news is that most countries offer a tax exemption on “gifts” - for example, the Malaysian Customs allows you to deliver gifts, free of any taxes if the gift is worth less than 400 MYR.
However, this might pose issues for you if you are an e-commerce seller. This is because declaring an item as a “gift” means that you are not selling it to the recipient. As such, taxes and duties may kick in.
While figuring out custom taxes can be confusing, it is best to do your research and factor in the appropriate duties. The best resources are the various Customs Websites’ themselves.
4. Not packing your items properly
Please make sure that all items are bubble-wrapped and packed correctly. With strong corrugated cardboard and lots of foam.
This is not only to save you the hassle of re-shipping a broken glass. Most insurance plans provided by shipping companies require you to have taken the appropriate precautions in packing your items. Shipping a minimally packed fragile item might mean that your insurance claim will not succeed.
Don’t take the risk - spending $10 on some extra materials, and an additional 10 minutes to pack your items appropriately will save you a lot of heartaches.
5. Paying too much for shipping
Shipping costs from different international courier services can vary depending on multiple factors. Some couriers may charge more simply because they do not have a strong presence in the destination country. Another factor might be the capabilities of the respective shipping companies, such as the amount of aircraft, boats, and delivery trucks they own.
Bottom line: not all shipping companies will give you the best price.
Don’t make the mistake of paying over $100 to ship a package to the USA, when you can easily do it for under $50.
Shipping a package to the USA or Malaysia? JustShip has the most competitive rates in Singapore. Check it out.