Need to ship Internationally? Ask UPS

Need to ship Internationally? Ask UPS

August 20th, 2009

An area that isn’t overlooked but where online retailers are is international shipping.  Customers want to know how to ship internationally, how to determine whether it makes sense for them given the additional costs and risks, and what restrictions they need to be aware of. 

Probably the most intimidating business area is international shipping.  But the opportunity to grow your business by moving into the international sales arena is tremendous.  The U.S. Small Business Administration found that companies engaged in international trade:
• Are 20% more productive
• Produce 20% greater job growth than non-exporters, and
• Are 9% more likely to stay financially solvent

With two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power located outside the U.S., exporting could help you expand from a U.S. market of 300 million to a global market of more than six billion.

UPS has worked both to make it easier to get started and easier to manage the ongoing process.   There are two main areas:�
1. Understanding country specific regulations and requirements
2. How to ship

1. Understanding country specific regulations and requirements
Governments typically restrict or prohibit specific commodities from import/export depending on what they are used for, who they are going to and their quantity/value.  But these country specific trade regulations can vary widely by country.  For instance, are there any special restrictions on exporting a shipment of 100 calendars from the U.S. to Vietnam for resale?  In fact, in Vietnam, it is illegal to import foreign calendars for commercial purposes.  Or, is a shipment of a box of business cards from the U.S. to Germany considered a “document” or “non-document” shipment?  This is an important question because document shipments are typically duty-free.  Actually, a shipment of business cards into Germany is considered a document shipment, but there is a fifteen card limit.  How is someone supposed to be aware of all of these country restrictions?  While the wide array of rules for global trade can seem overwhelming, UPS provides tools, like the Country Regulations tool on, which makes it simple to determine what specific rules apply to any origin and destination country that UPS serves.  The Country Regulations tool simplifies the process of determining prohibited/restricted commodities, documentation requirements, value or weight limits or any other country specific regulation for importing or exporting all around the globe.

2. How to ship
Whether you are shipping at or on a stand alone Worldship shipping system, the international shipping process is not much different than a shipment to someone within the U.S.  The first step involves selecting the appropriate UPS international delivery service.  UPS offers guaranteed time-definite and day-definite international delivery services that can meet your budget and scheduling needs. And UPS delivers to more than 200 countries and territories, so you’re sure to find the international shipping service that’s right for you.  In order to determine the appropriate service to meet your needs, you’ll want to determine the shipment cost and delivery time.  With an international shipment, you’ll need to determine not only the shipping charges, but also any applicable duties and taxes based on the country you’re shipping to.  UPS provides free tools like TradeAbility that can help you estimate the “landed cost” (i.e., cost of your international shipment including duties and taxes) of your shipment.  Because the importers typically pay the duties and taxes, it’s important to be able provide your customer with an accurate estimate of the charges they’ll be responsible for.  Setting expectations on duties and taxes owed can prevent “sticker shock” for the importer and can help reduce refused or even abandoned shipments. Once you’ve selected the shipping service and reviewed any country specific regulations, you’re ready to prepare your shipment, which consists of creating a label using a UPS shipping system and following UPS package guidelines to avoid delays.  Now it’s a matter of getting the shipment to UPS by either dropping it off at The UPS Store or a UPS Drop Box, or you can schedule a pickup online or call 1-800-PICK UPS.  After tendering your package to UPS, you can monitor the progress of your shipment on or with Quantum View®. You can receive proactive notifications of your shipment status, as well as view and print proof of delivery along with an image of the recipient’s signature using UPS Signature Tracking®.

UPS has created a microsite (i.e., a mini-website) dedicated to providing you with all of the tools and information you need to take your business outside the U.S. with UPS.  It’s online at

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