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Shipping International Orders on eBay

Updated on February 26, 2013

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Shipping Methods
  3. Printing Shipping Labels
  4. Packaging Tips
  5. Shipping Insurance
  6. Custom forms
  7. Conclusion

1. Introduction

I'm a Power Seller and Top-Rated Seller on eBay, and I've been selling on eBay since 2009. This hub is about shipping international orders, to reduce some of the frustration and stress associated with international shipping.

And why do you want to offer international shipping? Based on my experience as a full-time seller, at least 30% of my sales are international orders.

2. Shipping Methods

I use United States Postal Service (USPS) for all of my international orders. Based on my experience, it is the most cost effective and reliable way to ship international orders.

I have talked to a UPS account manager, and he personally told me that UPS can't compete with USPS on pricing. Also, since UPS is a private shipping company, all international packages sent via UPS are charged broker's fees and customs fees. Some of my international buyers have specifically mentioned that they didn't want me to ship using UPS due to extra fees they have to pay.

For not-so-expensive items (For example, I mostly sell vitamins and supplements), I use the following shipping methods based on weight.

  • For packages 4 lb and under: First-Class Mail® International Parcel
  • For packages 5 lb and over: Priority Mail® International

The main difference between First-Class Mail and Priority Mail is price and tracking. First-Class Mail is almost a half the price of Priority Mail, but you can only track the package while it is in the USA. Priority Mail, on the other hand, offers a detailed tracking until the package is delivered (except the Small Flat Rate Box). And it is faster than First-Class Mail.

If you are a seller, eBay requires you to ship your international order using a service that has detailed tracking like Priority Mail does. If you don't have proof of delivery, you will always lose when a buyer opens a case due to non-delivery.

Also, I recommend you to take the advantage of Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes. If your package is over 5 lb and if it fits in medium or large flat rate boxes, it is usually cheaper to use the flat rate boxes (up to 20 lbs).

3. Printing Shipping Labels

If you are a seller who ships packages everyday, you don't want to go to the post office everyday. Always print the shipping labels at home and use the package pick-up service. As a business owner, time is money, and printing shipping labels at home is almost always cheaper than paying at the post office.

If you are a seller, you are probably familiar with printing shipping labels online. I usually print my labels on PayPal for eBay orders because the 'ship-to' address is there, the tracking information is automatically uploaded to eBay, and an email is sent to the buyer notifying that the order has been shipped. The only annoying part is that I have to always deal with the extra three clicks to use my credit card to pay for my postage (to take the advantage of cash back). When I have a lot of orders to ship, those extra three clicks really get in the way.

Any way, the only trick when printing shipping labels online is in printing 'First-Class Mail® International Parcel' labels. PayPal doesn't have the 'First-Class Mail® International Parcel' option. So you have to either use eBay website or other software such as I use because it lets me use my credit card (no extra three clicks), and if I use their scale, the weight is automatically entered into my computer.

4. Packaging Tips

There is only one thing I want to tell everybody when packaging international orders: Pack them good.

A packaging is not just a packaging. It represents your business. And you don't have to use a fancy custom-printed packaging with your company logo. Just remember that international orders have long way to go and get beaten around on their way, so at least use bubble poly mailers.

I once used a thin poly mailer to ship my omega-3 supplements. One day, one of the packages returned to me. The package was unopened, and the seal under the cap wasn't broken. And when I opened the seal to use the supplement myself, most of the softgels were popped. And trust me, those softgels require a lot of throw-and-catch to pop.

And for a good business practice, never resell returned items. If you want to, let the buyer know.

5. Shipping Insurance

If you are shipping using USPS First-Class Mail, you probably don't want to purchase an extra insurance. If you are shipping something that requires insurance, you don't want to use USPS First-Class Mail in the first place.

If you are shipping using USPS Priority Mail, an insurance comes with it based on its weight, and you can purchase extra insurance at a minimal cost if the included insurance doesn't cover the entire value of the content. But remember that you can't insure a $10 t-shirt for $400 (the maximum value of content allowed for Priority Mail) because you will need to provide the receipt showing the value of the content when you claim the insurance.

Always remember:

  • It takes a LONG time to claim insurance and get your money.
  • Insurance doesn't cover the cost of shipping. It only covers the value of contents.
  • Insurance only covers lost or damaged packages, not items that get refused or returned due to customs restrictions.

6. Custom forms

Customs forms is one of the most annoying parts when it comes to shipping international orders.

The first rule is that you have to be honest. Remember: you sign the customs forms, saying that what you've wrote on the form is true.

If you are a seller, you should mark a package as a 'merchandise.' But many sellers mark the packages as 'gifts' and get away with it. And many buyers ask their packages to be marked as 'gifts' to avoid customs taxes.

When selling on eBay, or anywhere else, customs taxes is always the responsibility of the buyer. Shipping and handling never includes any possible customs taxes, unless otherwise mentioned.

There are three things most customs officer look for:

  1. The value of the content.
  2. The quantity.
  3. The type contents (gift, merchandise, or something else?)

Customs laws for different countries are all different, so be sure to let your international buyers to check their country's customs laws before ordering.

7. Conclusion

Shipping international orders takes some time getting used to, but it can increase your sales significantly.

If you have other questions about international shipping that is not mentioned in this hub, please take time to leave a comment so I can make this hub better.

As always, thank you for reading my hub! :)


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    • internationalship profile image

      internationalship 5 years ago

      Do you want to send or receive an international shipment?

      Easy steps to start saving time and money.

      Step 1: Create a Shipment at

      (That's it.)