eBay International Shipping

In: How To|International|security|shipping

10 Aug 2009

The biggest difficulty in selling to non-U.S. buyers is shipping the item. Not only are longer distances involved (which necessitates more secure packagingand longer shipping times), but you also have to deal with different shipping options and all sorts of new paperwork.

Chances are your normal method of shipping won’t work for your international shipments. For example, you can’t use Priority Mail to ship outside the United Statesnot even to Canada or Mexico. This means you’ll need to evaluate new shipping methods, and possibly new shipping services.

If you want to stick with the U.S. Postal Service, you can check out Global Priority Mail (reasonably fast and reasonably priced), Global Express Mail (fast but expensive), Airmail (almost as fast, not quite as expensive), or Surface/Parcel Post (slow but less expensive). In addition, UPS offers its Worldwide Express service, FedEx offers its FedEx Express service internationally, and DHL is always a good option for shipping outside the United States. Be sure to check out your options beforehand, and charge the buyer the actual costs incurred.

Given the increased chances of loss or damage when shipping great distances, you should purchase insurance for all items shipping outside North America.

You’ll also have to deal with a bit of paperwork while you’re preparing your shipment. All packages shipping outside U.S. borders must clear customs to enter the destination countryand require the completion of specific customs forms to make the trip. Depending on the type of item you’re shipping and the weight of your package, you’ll need either Form 2976 (green) or Form 2976-A (white). Both of these forms should be available at your local post office.

When you’re filling out these forms, describe the item in terms that ordinary people can understand. That means using simple, generic terms. A “greatest hits CD compilation” becomes “compact disc.” A “SimCity extension pack” becomes “video game.” And so on.

You should also be honest about what you’re shipping. Some buyers will try to talk you into describing the item as a gift so that they can save on duties or tax on their end. That’s lying, and you shouldn’t do it.

eBay offers several pages of advice for international trading at pages.ebay.com/internationaltrading/.

In addition, there are certain items you can’t ship to foreign countriesfirearms, live animals and animal products, and so on. (There are also some technology items you can’t ship, for security reasons.) You need to check the government’s list of import and export restrictions to see what items you’re prohibited from shipping outside U.S. borders. Check with your shipping service for more detailed information.

Finally, note that shipping across borders takes longer than shipping within the United States. This is especially true if an item is held up at customs. Make sure your international buyers know that shipping times will be longer than what you might state for domestic buyers.

1 Response to eBay International Shipping


Mike Online Auctions

February 11th, 2011 at 9:12 am

Good points about shipping internationally. I usually just ship domestically but I have been looking into shipping internationally. I definitely take your advice.

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  • Mike Online Auctions: Good points about shipping internationally. I usually just ship domestically but I have been lookin [...]