It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… your candles being shipped all over the worlddddd!
So your business is set up, people are buying your products locally and domestically (yay!), but what if you’re ready to take it to the next level and ship internationally?
This is GREAT news and we’re SO pumped for you to get your creations into the hands of people around the globe. It’s such a good feeling knowing others are responding to what you’ve put your heart and soul into, and we’re here to help you figure out how to expand your brand’s travels!
Let’s start with some basic best practices:
If you offer free shipping domestically, you need to consider how you will charge for shipping globally. Free shipping internationally is not feasible for most businesses so you’ll need to make a decision on how you will display shipping rates.
Always double check that your customers include an email address and phone number when they make a purchase through your shop just in case shipping carriers need to contact them about delivery and/or fees.
Ensure your descriptions for products are complete and accurate by describing the product, stating what it is used for, and including what your products are made of.
Some countries, like Russia, can be particularly hard to import goods into. It is a good idea to include your contact info on the commercial invoice in case customs needs to contact you for anything as well.
To cover all your bases, make sure you add to your FAQ that customs, taxes, and duties charged will be billed to the customer and are not included. Clearly state how international customers may have to pay import taxes and duties on your website - this will help build trust with your customers and contribute to a successful business whether you’re selling candles, diffusers, soap, or other amazing handcrafted creations.
Certain products may require additional documentation, such as alcohol-based products, so be sure to contact your shipping company of choice for more details on their requirements.
When you ship internationally, you need to include (3) copies of a Commercial Invoice. This is basically the same as your sales receipt if you sell online, but it needs to state “Commercial Invoice” on it. In addition to the list of the items being shipped and recipient information included on a typical sales receipt, your invoice should also include the following :
- Your company name
- The currency that the order was paid in (Example: Paid in USD)
- The origin of the product you are selling (Example: made in the USA)
- The value of the products must be above $1 and stated on the commercial invoice
You can pack your 3 copies of the invoices on the outside of your box in a clear packing slip sticker like this one:
Clear Packing List Envelopes - FedEx offers these for free if you have an account with them.
Now let’s look at international shipping help from different platforms you may be using for your e-commerce website:
If you use the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) to ship internationally from the U.S., you need to make sure you meet certain requirements so import duties and taxes are accurately assessed. Shipping internationally means the customer might have to pay taxes or import duties depending on where they are, trade agreements, treaties, and the total value of the shipment. Some shipping carriers offer the option for you to pay duties on behalf of the customer, so you can weave the cost of that into your product so purchasers aren’t hit with the extra charge after the fact.
If you’re shipping products from Canada, taxes and duties aren’t consistently collected by Canada Post.
If you are shipping an international order that totals $2,500 USD or more, additional documentation is required like Power of Attorney, International Transaction number, and carrier specific documentation.
Shopify Fulfillment Network doesn’t supply additional insurance on international or domestic orders, but there are certain carriers that might - feel free to contact their support team for more information about shipping carrier insurance at this email address, email@example.com, or visit their site for more info here - Shopify International Shipping Best Practices.
If you use Wix to sell your products, you need to set up your “rules” and determine which regions you are willing to ship to. If you choose to ship internationally, your site defaults to “free shipping” so you will need to edit that to fit your shipping rules. You have the ability to choose which countries you would like to be able to ship to and whether you want to ship to countries at the same rate or at different rates. You can also make your rules different per region - for example, you can offer free shipping domestically within the U.S. and charge international buyers a flat rate.
You should consider the weight of your products as well and possibly determine a certain rate per the weight of your shipments. You have the ability to create as many specific rules for shipping as you need with Wix - feel free to visit their help center here for more specific information.
If you sell your products on Etsy and want to set your own international shipping rates, make sure you set rates for every country you are willing to ship to so you appear in international searches since some buyers only choose to view items that will ship to their country. Find out how to change your shipping destinations here.
You can calculate shipping rates if you use USPS or Global Postal Shipping using this “Price Your Postage” calculator provided by Etsy. If you’re shipping internationally from Canada, you can use this calculator.
If you’d like shipping rates to be calculated for you, there’s a few steps you need to take. First, create a shipping profile with calculated shipping, then the size and weight information needs to be added to your listings, and finally, the calculated shipping profile needs to be added to your listings.
Calculated shipping allows you to set certain things up so that Etsy can pre-fill shipping labels that you purchase from them with necessary information like weight, dimensions, and mail class. This will definitely save you some time as orders start rolling in.
Always make sure you double check rules and regulations when it comes to shipping internationally from the platform you use to sell your products and be upfront with your customers about extra costs. Meeting certain requirements can be a tedious process, but it’s worth it if a new country or region becomes part of your audience!
Happy Shipping + Happy Making!