What is international shipping and how does it work?

International shipping is a fundamental component of eCommerce, allowing businesses to extend their reach and customers to access a vast array of products from around the globe. If you’re a business owner looking to expand your market, understanding the intricacies of international shipping is vital. In this blog post, we will look into the workings of international shipping, covering key aspects such as carriers like Royal Mail and DHL, the process, and its legal requirements.


The Basics of International Shipping

International shipping refers to the process of transporting goods from one country to another. For online retailers, this means ensuring that products purchased by customers in one country reach their destinations worldwide. This intricate operation encompasses several elements, including logistics, customs regulations, carriers, and delivery options.


Carriers in International Shipping

When it comes to international shipping , choosing the most suitable carrier for international shipping needs is a paramount decision. As an online retailer you should try, ideally, to balance shipping costs and speed. To achieve this balance, it is crucial to explore all the options available.

There are essentially three categories of shipping carriers to consider:

  1. Postal services: Postal services such as Royal Mail International Shipping are cost-effective, reliable and generally trusted by customers. However, packages sent by postal service must transition between delivery companies upon crossing borders. That means reduced control and limited tracking visibility.
  2. Couriers: International delivery giants like DHL offer robust global networks, ensuring expedited deliveries and top-notch tracking capabilities. Although efficient, they tend to incur higher costs, ultimately affecting customer expenses.
  3. Freight forwarders: These entities, also known as forwarding agents, act as middlemen between you (the shipper) and carriers. They don’t move goods and only act as agents in the logistics network. Freight forwarders streamline the shipping process, but using them may result in higher costs; also, your primary contact will be is the broker rather than the delivery company.

The choice between these options relies on a number of factors, including delivery time, reliability, tracking capabilities and, most importantly, the specific requirements and expectations of your customer base.

The International Shipping Process

The international shipping process can be summarised in several key stages:

  1. Order Processing: When a customer places an order on an online retail website, the order is processed and prepared for shipping.
  2. Packing: Products are carefully packed to ensure they remain intact during the journey.
  3. Customs clearance: Customs documents are prepared, including the commercial invoice and customs declaration, to comply with import regulations in the destination country.
  4. Carrier selection: The retailer chooses a carrier, such as Royal Mail or DHL.
  5. Shipping and tracking: The package is shipped and assigned a tracking number, allowing customers to monitor its journey in real-time.
  6. Customs at destination: The package undergoes customs clearance at the destination, which may include inspections and the payment of customs duties or taxes.
  7. Final delivery: The package is delivered to the customer’s doorstep, completing the international shipping process.


Legal requirements of International Shipping

Navigating the complex web of international shipping from the UK also involves complying with various legal requirements. Customs regulations, import and export restrictions, and documentation demands are all integral aspects of shipping goods across borders. It is imperative for businesses involved in international eCommerce to be well-versed in these legal intricacies to ensure seamless operations.

Navigating international shipping requires accurate research on the rules and regulations specific to each country and courier. This is crucial to ensure the safe and legal shipment of items. Certain products, such as aerosol sprays, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and more, are generally prohibited for international shipping. Complying with these legal requirements is a fundamental step towards creating a trustworthy and efficient international shipping process.


WeCommerce Digital is a digital marketing agency specialised in in eCommerce website developmenteCommerce SEO, PPC management and content marketing. We have over 10 years experience developing eCommerce websites and building digital marketing performance from zero to hero! If you want straightforward, honest, and measurable results as well as the opportunity to learn how they were achieved, visit our website today at weCommercedigital.com.

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