International shipping

Ready to take your business global? Here’s everything you need to know to navigate the complexities of international postage and shipping.

The world is your customer base. Or it can be. First, you have to untangle the knot of international postage costs, regulations and procedures. Once you learn the basics and understand where to go for resources, international shipping is not that different from domestic shipping. And that extra bit of effort can translate into cross-border sales and a global customer base that just keeps growing.

We’re here to help you understand where to buy international postage, how international shipping and tracking work and what services are available to get your products into the hands of new customers across the globe.

Where to buy international postage online

All the major carriers, including USPS®, FedEx® and UPS® offer some form of international postage you can purchase from their websites. However, the cost of international postage and the time it takes for a package to reach its destination varies considerably between carriers.

Purchasing international postage online through a carrier-approved shipping service like PitneyShip simplifies the process by offering you a choice of carriers and services to choose from and providing the required customs forms to include with your package. The easy-to-use interface walks you through the steps for filling in both your international shipping label and customs forms.

Can I just stick some U.S. stamps on it and call it good?

In a manner of speaking, yes. If you’re sending an international letter that weighs less than 1 oz., you can use either a Global Forever® stamp or a combination of regular Forever® stamps that are equal to or greater than $1.20 in value.

The Global Forever stamp offers a single price for any First-Class Mail International 1 oz. letter to any country in the world. And just like domestic Forever stamps, Global Forever stamps never expire – even when postage rates increase.

How do I calculate international shipping?

Help is just a few clicks away. Online calculators can simplify your international shipping cost calculations. So can carrier websites and online shipping services.

Here’s what you need to know about your package to calculate its shipping:

  • Package DIM: Find your package’s DIM (dimensional weight) by measuring its length, height and width and adding those numbers together

  • Package weight

  • Origin Zip Code: The Zip Code you’re shipping from

  • Address of destination

If you ship using a Flat Rate® service, you can skip the DIM and weight calculations. You can find more information on Flat Rates below in the Shipping internationally with USPS section.

How to ship an international package

International shipping label and packaging requirements

Creating an international shipping label is very similar to creating a domestic shipping label, with one important exception: U.S. Customs. Customs forms are required to declare the contents and value of your shipment and comply with international shipping laws.

You’ll need the following information to complete a Customs form:

  • Quantity of items
  • Value of each item
  • Date shipment is sent
  • Invoice number

In addition, each destination country charges customs and fees on shipments containing taxable items. (Your customer is usually responsible for these fees.)

For most carrier services, your customs form is combined with the shipping label you attach to your package. Some deliveries require a multi-page form that should be attached using a clear envelope. You can include a copy of the customs form inside your shipment for good measure.

International shipping with USPS

You’re likely going to choose a shipping service based on delivery speed and shipping rates. If your focus is on the most economical solution, USPS is the carrier for you. The USPS international shipping services are listed below from least expensive to most expensive:

First-Class Package International Service

This is the most economical way to send lightweight packages. Packages can weigh up to 4 lbs. but must not be more than $400 in value. There are no guaranteed delivery dates for First-Class Package International®, but prices start at a very affordable $12.25.

Priority Mail International

Priority Mail International® delivers to more than 190 countries within 6 to 10 business days on average. Most, but not all, Priority Mail International shipments include tracking and up to $100 in insurance. Most Priority Mail International Flat Rate boxes and envelopes are free and shipping prices start at $26.90.

Priority Mail Express International

Priority Mail Express International® delivers to more than 190 countries within 3 to 5 Business Days. Some destinations include an optional service delivery with a money-back guarantee. Most destinations include free tracking and up to $200 in insurance. Flat Rate envelopes for items up to 4 lbs. are free and shipping prices start at $45.95.

Global Express Guaranteed

This USPS service partners with FedEx to deliver packages to over 190 countries in 1 to 3 business days, including overnight delivery to many locations in Canada. Prices start at $67.80, but that comes with a date-certain delivery and a money-back guarantee.

International shipping with UPS and FedEx

International shipping with UPS and FedEx costs considerably more than USPS, but delivery times and reliability are far better. (Unlike UPS and FedEx, USPS must rely on commercial airlines to transport mail internationally).

Both UPS and FedEx offer a wide range of international shipping services for everything from mail to freight. If you need to deliver a shipment fast and don’t mind paying more on international postage, UPS or FedEx is the way to go.

Tracking on international shipping

International shipping and tracking vary from service to service and from country to country. If tracking your shipment is important, be sure to check the tracking details of the service you’re using for the country you’re shipping to.