Friday, September 14, 2012

International Shipping Tips for USPS, FedEx and UPS

International Shipping Tips for USPS, FedEx and UPS
If your company is looking across our country’s borders to expand your business, a fundamental question is “How do I get the orders delivered to these international customers?” With the special regulations and additional expense of international shipping compared to domestic, getting this right is key. So understanding the international shipping process is the cornerstone to making this new business profitable and worthwhile.

Let’s look at the additional documents needed when shipping internationally. There are two (2) sets of information needed so your packages are delivered properly. One is for the carrier; the other is for customs. And this is where a multi-carrier shipping system can really help. I’ll use our CPS Shipping Software as an example.

Let's start with the most important items for the carriers. First, and it may sound obvious, but you need to know what country you are shipping to. Actually, you need to know how the carrier refers to the destination country. For example, let's use Ireland. If you are shipping with UPS, the country can be Republic of Ireland or just Ireland. For FedEx, you can only use Republic of Ireland. For USPS using Endicia, you can only use Ireland. Use the wrong one and you will not even get a shipping label. Our CPS shipping software helps with a “pull-down” country listing to assist you.

Next is international paperwork. This includes Commercial Invoices, Certificates of Origin, USPS Customs Forms and SED filings. The carrier needs to know how the international paperwork is being handled or your package can be delayed clearing customs. Each customs form has a specific layout. A shipping system like CPS that really supports international shipping can collect the data and print the correct forms in the approved format.

Using a shipping system that simplifies the shipping, shipping label, and international forms creation processes goes a long way to making international orders easy, freeing you to grow your business outside our borders.

International shipping is definitely not for the uninformed. There will be several more posts on this subject to follow over the next few weeks, including more detailed information about some of the items in the customs forms, such as the Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes and other items. So stay tuned.

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