Are you wondering if you should start offering international shipping? Are you scared that you might encounter a difficulty in shipping your products overseas?

The Good And Bad Items To Ship InternationallyWhile most packages won’t raise an eyebrow, there are some things that have their own special rules.

Here are some information that you need to know before shipping your product internationally.

The Good

Products that are not too bulky or fragile (like jewelry, clothing, or greeting cards) are ideal for international shipping. Shipping costs vary to different countries. If someone wants an item badly enough, they will pay the shipping you are charging as long as it’s fair.

If you’re on Etsy and worried about how to address and fill out the customs form, using Etsy’s Shipping Labels makes it so easy! It prints all the info you need to include onto the label- you just have to remember to sign and date the form.

Tracking is now also available via USPS when sending to many foreign countries. You can follow the progress of the package as it makes its way through customs and see it’s been marked as delivered. This gives you and the customer more peace of mind.

The Bad

Other types of products, such as leather, shoes and clocks, you can’t sell to Italy, for example.

Certain materials, gemstones, and products are prohibited in different places, so doing a little online research can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Often these restrictions are implemented to protect a country against competition for one of their main industries.

If you make really heavy or big items (like tables or sculptures), international shipping might not right for your handmade business. When sending this kind of product within the U.S., many sellers will use UPS or FedEx, but using these carriers internationally can be very costly.

The cost of shipping the item may even exceed the price of the product itself! That’s why it’s best to get a price quote for several specific countries and services when you’re deciding if international shipping is feasible for your store.

If you sell large items on Etsy, you can choose not to include the international option for shipping in your listings, but include in the description to contact them for a quote.

Also, keep in mind that some foreign nations have rules about what kind of items can be imported.

Many handmade sellers don’t ship to Brazil, as there are too many issues with customs delays.

Others can’t get insurance for Croatia and a few other countries.

Here is a brief, non-comprehensive list of items that are either not permissible to ship by any of the three major carriers, or that are heavily restricted to the point of requiring licenses:

  1. Firearms
  2. Explosives
  3. Radioactive materials
  4. Live animals
  5. Articles of exceptional value” like expensive art pieces

Of course, these aren’t the only items, but they’re among the most common (presumably most of you aren’t going to be shipping cars). If you need to explore further banned items, here are the lists of prohibited and restricted items as defined by the various carriers themselves:

  1. USPS Standard Prohibited and Restricted Items
  2. UPS List of Prohibited Articles
  3. FedEx Prohibited or Restricted Articles

Given these sorts of ideas, selling internationally represents a significant opportunity for handmade artists.
Setting aside international marketing, website localization, or even dealing with any number of currencies, the job of putting a product in a box, placing a proper label on that box, and having it sent out can be an unknown for a small business owner. Do a little online research as it can save you a lot of time and frustration.

So do you have a shipping stories to share? Did you have a hard time shipping your products? Please let us know in the comment box below.

Gary Capps

I live in the one of the most beautiful places in the world on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my wife and our 2 dogs, Poppy and Mia. Since 2009 I have helped over 15,000 handmade business owners to grow their business with our software and free tools designed for todays entrepreneurial artisan.

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