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How to Ship Internationally: Cost Estimates and Timeframe

8 min read

As an online retailer or ecommerce business, shipping is a huge part of your bottom line. Shipping costs can be a major obstacle for small businesses — they can consume a significant portion of your profits if you don’t optimize your shipping strategy.

If your business operates or distributes products to multiple countries, it’s critical to understand how international shipping works so you can save money and reach a broader audience.

This post explores international shipping, how to approach your shipping strategy, ship times, expected costs, and more.

Let’s dive in!

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How to Ship Internationally

Some ecommerce companies are hesitant to offer international shipping because they can’t justify the additional cost towards their profit.

However, it’s worth noting that most international customers are aware of the higher costs and are willing to pay the fees. This means you can pass most of the shipping fees to your international customers and build a larger customer base in the process!

Shipping internationally has a few important documents and steps you’ll need to take. Let’s break those down here.


Every international package requires a completed customs form upon entry in the destination country.

This form must include the following information:

  • The recipient (name, address)
  • The package’s value and weight
  • The package content’s value and weight

Package insurance

Purchasing insurance for international orders protects your shipments during their journey overseas. This cost is based on the value of the package and is determined when you create your shipping label.

Shipment tracking

Most shipping carriers provide tracking numbers, but you may have to ask (or pay) for this information, depending on your chosen carrier.

It is critical to have this information so you can monitor your shipments around the globe.

How to Ship a Package Internationally

Specific instructions on shipping a package internationally depend on the shipping company you select, but here are a few general rules and recommendations to complete beforehand.

Essential items you need to ship internationally

  • Full name of the person you’re shipping to and their international address
  • List of items you are sending and their value
  • Completed customs form 
  • Packaging materials to keep your products safe

What to know before shipping

  • What you are allowed to ship to certain countries
  • Weight and size limits on what can ship, based on the shipping service you choose
  • Shipping services available to the destination

How Long Does It Take to Ship Internationally

Shipping times depend on where you’re shipping from, the size of the package, the destination, and how much you’re willing to pay for each item to ship.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most reliable carriers in the United States.

USPS: Fastest Delivery

FedEx: Fastest Delivery

UPS: Fastest Delivery

Many other shipping carriers offer different shipping times and prices. Do your research based on your location, budget, and international customers’ locations.

Other carriers include:

  • DHL
  • TNT Express
  • Maersk
  • DPD
  • MSC
  • Canada Post
  • Aramex
  • APC Logistics

And many more!

You can also choose to buy shipping labels from shipping management tools like Easyship or ShipStation, depending on where you’re located and where you’re shipping.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Internationally?

Shipping internationally will cost you — but it doesn’t have to break the bank!

As mentioned, your international customers can absorb most of the shipping prices rather than impacting your bottom line.

Shipping rates vary drastically based on the destination, delivery speed, package weight, and more. This shipping comparison by Pitney Bowes accurately breaks down shipping prices from the US to countries all over the globe, from Australia to Canada, Asia, Europe, and many others.

Here are a few examples of shipping costs from the United States to various countries worldwide using different carriers.

United States to Canada

5 pound package, 13” x 11” x 3”

  • UPS, 2 business days — $34.27
  • USPS, 6 to 10 business days — $60.55
  • DHL, Next business day — $118.58

United States to UK

5 pound package, 13” x 11” x 3”

  • UPS, 3 business days — $239.12
  • USPS, 6 to 10 business days — $82.30
  • DHL, 2 business days — $181.87

United States to Asia

5 pound package, 13” x 11” x 3”

  • UPS, 3 business days — $237.88
  • FedEx, 5 business days — $243.25
  • DHL, 5 business days — $171.25

These are just a few select examples of the shipping carriers’ prices you can expect to see when shipping internationally.

Knowing these costs can help you determine your international marketing strategy, which countries you may target in your marketing, and which ones you may avoid because shipping fees are too high to justify.

How to Ship Internationally Cheap

International shipping isn’t cheap, but there are ways you can save money on this essential part of your business. These strategies include:


  • Use lighter packaging if possible
  • Use cushioned shipping rolls for fragile products
  • Use flat-rate shipping boxes
  • Compare rates with various carriers
  • Negotiate rates with your chosen career
  • Choose slower, cost-effective shipping options

Tips for Shipping Internationally

  • Double-check the address format to ensure you’ve correctly printed the address and postal codes based on the country.
  • Many carriers offer a shipping tool to help you complete the commercial invoice during shipping label creation.
  • Providing specific product details and the item’s value can help prevent delays in customs.

Save Money on International Shipping with Ecwid

As an ecommerce business, offering international shipping expands your audience base and allows you to increase profits exponentially.

Get global effortlessly with Ecwid! A multilingual storefront propels your online business worldwide from one admin panel. It’s not just about reaching customers — it’s about ease.

Ready to scale up? Start with Ecwid!


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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