International shipping services are utilized more and more as the world becomes increasingly integrated. Everyone needs to understand these services to find the most appropriate company at the lowest possible price.
For those small personal shipments and single orders, international parcel is usually the best way to go. The well known names to include the United Parcel Services, FedEx, DHL and the US Postal Service can handle these packages, although it is always a good idea to check online comparison websites to see if something cheaper is available in your area.
Apart from the speed of delivery and distance, shipping costs are calculated by volumentric weight (sometimes referred to as dimensional weight). This means that both size and weight are used to determine the cost. To get an idea of costs, the following costs’ calculator can help: http://postcalc.usps.gov/.
To ensure there are not any problems with the shipment, make sure that there are no legal issues with what is being shipped (in the country it is going to). What is legal in one locality may not be in another. It is also important to fill in any documentation (customs forms will be required) carefully since the shipment may be taxable if it is over a certain value.
To avoid damage to the goods, be very careful with packaging. It is often advisable to bubble-wrap items and pack them in a box inside a box, surrounded by packing peanuts. For added security, label each box. If water damage could be an issue, use a water-resistant box or wrap the items in plastic.
Virtually every international shipping service now offers tracking numbers on all parcels. Do not forget to consider insurance if needed and remember that international shipments usually must be prepaid.
International cargo services
When shipments are too large to be sent by express, post or similar services, international cargo services will fill the need. For those shipping more than just a package internationally, there are plenty of services to choose from, and the most appropriate for the area it is being sent from can best be found by a web search. These services can help with anything from cars to entire households. As with packages, it is necessary to make sure packing and customs declarations are carefully carried out.
When the shipment is large enough, one option to consider is a flat-rate container. You can ship as many items as they would like in the container for a flat fee. The one stipulation is that the items being shipped in the container do not exceed a certain weight. This option is therefore the most optimal when many smaller and lighter items are being shipped.
Remember the special requirements for larger shipments. When the value of the shipment is higher, a formal entry will be necessary and extra documentation to include a bill of lading and a commercial invoice will likely be required.
Most commercial shipments are sent using freight forwarders. Basically, a freight forwarder will handle all the logistics of moving a shipment from one location to another. Some of their duties include:
- The coordination all shipments, both domestic and international, from their origin to the final destination, including shipments to and from ports as well as air, sea and ground transportation.
- Insuring and managing shipments to include risk management to prevent losses.
- Container management and loading: This includes FCL (full cargo load) shipments as well as LCL (less than container load) shipments.
- If they work as consolidators, they will combine break-bulk cargo from different senders into a single shipment for the best possible rates.
- Documentation support: To ensure the goods d not get held up for lack of documentation, freight forwarders will make sure those involved in the shipment provide all documentation that will be necessary to clear the goods through the ports (home and destination) and customs. This includes the bill of lading, waybill, commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of origin and any other documentation that may be required depending on the type of shipment.
- Customs clearance: When requested, freight forwarders can arrange customs brokers to formally clear the goods through customs. They will also coordinate with customs in putting goods in bonded warehouses when there are unpaid duties.
- Storage: Freight forwarders can also arrange other storage as needed.
Advantages of using freight forwarders
- While it is possible to arrange the shipment of large orders of goods without a freight forwarder, they offer enough advantages to make their fees, generally included in the cost of the shipment, worth it in most cases.
- Apart from saving time and the need to have to arrange complex logistics, freight forwarders can also help companies save money. Being specialized in the shipping industry, they are well informed on its regulations and requirements (in many countries if it is a larger company) to move things efficiently. In addition, with their contacts with carriers and other business partners, they can often get the best rates for their clients.
- In some situations such as when trans-shipment is necessary, they can route goods through ports with the most favorable tax rates and regulations.
See freight forwarders for a better understanding of the services they offer. Freight forwarders range in size from the large to small domestic firms, but all will provide freight quotations. One criterion to consider when choosing a company is whether or not it is registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).