How To Ship a Package Internationally

Navigate international shipping with ease. Learn how to choose the right service, prepare packages, understand customs, and track shipments.

Jim Sharkey
October 18, 2023
Navigate international shipping with ease. Learn how to choose the right service, prepare packages, understand customs, and track shipments.

Shipping a package internationally can be a complex process, especially for small businesses new to ecommerce. With numerous factors to consider, such as shipping rates, delivery times, customs regulations, and different mail services, it can feel like navigating a maze.

However, understanding the nuances of international shipping is the first step toward expanding your customer base across borders. 

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the international shipping process, from choosing the right service to understanding custom forms and shipping restrictions. We will also discuss the roles of various shipping companies in facilitating international shipments.

By the end, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to ensure your packages reach their international destinations efficiently and cost-effectively.

What Is International Shipping?

International shipping refers to the process of sending packages or cargo from one country to another. Numerous shipping companies offer international shipping services, each with its own set of rates, rules, and processes.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a popular choice for many U.S. businesses due to its wide range of services and competitive pricing. USPS offers several international mail services, including Priority Mail Express International and First-Class Package International Service.

FedEx, on the other hand, is renowned for its express shipping services and comprehensive tracking system. It provides a range of international shipping services, including FedEx International Priority and FedEx International Economy.

Then there's DHL, a global shipping company covering over 220 countries and territories. DHL offers a wide array of international shipping services, including DHL Express Worldwide and DHL eCommerce.

How To Ship a Package Internationally

At Mochila, our fulfillment expertise has helped us appreciate every step in the shipping process. Here’s our guide to shipping packages across borders.

Choose the Right Shipping Service

Start by deciding on the international shipping services that best suits your needs. Factors such as shipping costs, delivery times, and the destination of your package can help guide your decision. Additionally, consider the weight limit and size restrictions of your chosen carrier.


You may also want to stay updated on the state of the global supply chain to observe how carriers change their rates in reaction to world events.

Prepare Your Package

Next, prepare your package for shipping. This involves packing the items securely to prevent damage during transit. Use ample padding and secure packaging materials, especially if you’re shipping fragile items.


Be aware of the shipping restrictions for the destination country and ensure that your shipment does not contain any prohibited items. For instance, certain countries may ban the transit of perishable goods or specific electronic devices.

Create a Shipping Label

Once your package is prepared, the next step is to create a shipping label. This is an essential document that contains all the necessary information about your shipment, including the sender's and recipient's addresses, the weight of the package, and the type of service selected. 


You can create a shipping label using the online tools provided by your chosen carrier. Ensure that all the information on the label is accurate and clearly written to avoid any potential delivery issues.

Complete Customs Forms

If you're shipping internationally, you'll need to complete customs forms. These documents provide customs officials in the destination country with details about the contents of your package. 

The forms can be filled out in English and must accurately describe the items in your shipment, their value, and their purpose (like commercial goods, gifts, or personal belongings). Incorrect or incomplete forms can lead to delays in customs clearance, so be sure to fill them out correctly.

Choose Shipping Options

The next step is to choose your shipping options. Shipping carriers offer various options, from economy to expedited. Your choice depends on several factors, including which delivery speed you prefer, the shipping rates you can afford, and your preferred delivery schedule.

Send Your Package

After preparing your package and paperwork, you're ready to send your package. You can drop off your package at a local post office or schedule a pickup with your shipping carrier. International shipping procedures can significantly differ from domestic shipping, so ensure you follow the correct process.

Oversee Tracking and Delivery

Finally, once your package is on its way, you'll want to track its progress. Most shipping companies provide tracking services that allow you to monitor your package as it moves toward its destination. 

This service offers peace of mind for both you and your customers and helps you anticipate any potential issues. While international shipping may take several business days or even weeks, you should have a good idea of a delivery date depending on the shipping option you selected and the destination country's customs procedures. Knowing the estimated delivery date can be helpful as you keep an eye on real-time tracking.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth international shipping process. However, always remember that rules and procedures can vary between shipping companies and countries, so it's essential to research and prepare accordingly.

What Are Some Tips and Advice for International Shipping?

A deep understanding of international shipping is key to avoiding common pitfalls. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process:

Understanding Tariffs

Tariffs are taxes imposed on imported goods by the destination country. They affect your overall shipping costs and are usually paid by the recipient. Being aware of the potential tariffs involved in shipping to your destination country can help you provide more accurate information to your customers.

Cost-Effective Shipping

The cheapest way to ship internationally often depends on the size and weight of your package, as well as the destination. You may find that USPS is often the most affordable option for your lightweight packages, while FedEx and DHL may offer better rates for heavier shipments.

Shipping Perishable Items

Perishable items may be subject to strict regulations and require special packaging to make sure they arrive in good condition. If you’re planning to ship something perishable, do your research to ensure you’re choosing the right packaging and complying with any restrictions. 

Special Considerations for Different Countries

Each country has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to imports. For instance, Canada has specific requirements for labeling and bilingual packaging.

Use a Flat-Rate Box

If your shipment fits, consider using a flat-rate box. These boxes can be a cost-effective shipping solution, especially for heavy items.

Know the Weight Limit

Most shipping companies have a weight limit for international packages. Ensure your package doesn't exceed this limit to avoid additional charges or potential shipping issues.

Use Reliable Shipping Companies

Major carriers have established reputations for reliable international shipping. Choosing a well-known carrier can give you and your customers peace of mind.

Boxing Things Up

Knowledge and preparation help you balance cost efficiency with customer satisfaction when you ship internationally. Understanding your options, as well as their restrictions, can significantly ease the process. 


Always remember that the key to successful international shipping is careful planning, thorough preparation, and diligent tracking. If you need a partner as you expand your ecommerce globally, contact Mochila for expert guidance and solutions for your international fulfillment needs.


International Mail Services & Shipping Rates | USPS

Tariffs | World Trade Organization

Understanding the WTO - Tariffs: more bindings and closer to zero | WT

Six ways to improve global supply chains | Brookings

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