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A Guide to International Shipping for Australian Ecommerce Stores

By December 2, 2020April 15th, 2021No Comments

A couple of years ago we released our most successful blog post ever. A Guide to E-commerce Shipping in Australia. In today’s blog post we will be going through the other half of ecommerce shipping in our Guide to International Shipping for Australian Ecommerce Stores.

International Shipping is a completely different ball game to domestic shipping. There are new rules, tariffs, costs and time frames to consider. (just to name a few things) In this guide, we will be providing you with all the things you have to consider when shipping product overseas and directing you to some providers that will help you get your product into the hands of your overseas customers.

The Challenge

As an Australian ecommerce vendor, opening up your store to the world can be a business changing strategy. Especially when you consider that Australian Ecommerce sales total only 0.01% of global ecommerce sales.

The challenge for Australian vendors is our remote location, offering a fast and affordable delivery to our international friends is a tough challenge. Australia is one of the most isolated countries in the world, and with no land borders all international sales must be shipped by either air or sea. Which makes international delivery both slower and more expensive than an international shipment that was sent within Europe for example.

The good news is there are some great service providers in Australia that can make international shipping a breeze despite these challenges.

The Players

Australia has number of companies that specialise in international shipping. The three biggest players in this space are Australia Post, Fedex and DHL. Let’s take a look at these three companies in more detail and the pro’s and cons of each service provider.

the international players

Australia Post

Australia Post is Australia’s biggest and most established delivery service. Australia Post has been delivering parcels and letters both domestically and internationally for over 200 years. Although Australia Post’s strength lies in domestic shipping, they are still competitive when it comes to sending goods overseas.

Here is an overview of Australia Post’s international delivery services.

  • Economy– Estimated 25+ business days. Can add optional extras like insurance cover and Signature on Delivery. Price start from 10.20 for parcels. (Price is Australia to New Zealand)
  •  Standard– Estimated Delivery 6-12 business days Tracking included, optional extras available like insurance cover and Signature on Delivery. Price starts from $15.20 to New Zealand.
  • Express– Estimated Delivery 3 to 8 business days. Tracking and Signature on Delivery included, optional extras like extra cover available. Price starts from $28.30 for letters and $30.20 for parcels.
  • Courier– 2-3 business days between metro centres. Tracking included optional extras cover also available  Price starts from $85.20.

An important thing to consider when sending an item overseas are any potential taxes that your product may incur and who will pay for these taxes. With Australia Post the receiver of the item will have to pay any taxes that your shipment may incur. Which may leave your customer with a bad purchase experience after being forced to pay a shock tax bill upon arrival of your product.

FedEx

FedEx is one of the worlds biggest shipping companies and because of their presence across multiple continents, international shipping is their speciality. FedEx have a range of services that are divided between speed and affordability. The three main shipping options for packages less than 67kg are:

  • FedEx International Economy
  • FedEx International Priority
  • FedEx International First

Let’s go through each of these three services in more detail.

FedEx International Economy

FedEx International Economy is FedEx’s most cost-effective service that they provide for international shipments. Despite being the cheapest solution that FedEx offer, they still offer great shipping coverage and shipping time ETA’s. With Exports from Australia taking typically 2 to 4 business days for Asia and 3 to 4 business days for centres in the U.S and Europe. FedEx International Economy also offer delivery signature options, customs clearance, money-back guarantee, flexible billing and online tracking.

FedEx International Priority

If it’s urgent. FedEx International Priority is a great door to door solution for time-sensitive deliveries. Deliveries are fast and take typically 1 to 3 business days to ship worldwide. However, with such fast service comes a cost. Delivery from Perth Australia, to Auckland New Zealand, costs $51.95* using FedEx International Priority in comparison the same shipment with Australia Post Express starts from $30.20.

FedEx International First

If your margins allow for it FedEx offer a next day service called FedEx International First. FedEx International First allows you to send your package within 1-3 business days worldwide and export to certain postcodes in the U.S and Canada from Australia the next day. However, this service is not for all ecommerce businesses. With shipping costs starting $130 from Perth to New York in the U.S. You would have to ensure that either your order has enough margin to cover the cost of the shipping or you offer the option to the customer and get the customer to pay a premium for the next day delivery.

DHL

DHL is an international shipping carrier that provides dedicated shipping solutions for ecommerce businesses. DHL services come with flexible pick up times, electronic invoicing and access to online shipping tools like their customer portal to help you organise and manage your shipments easily.

DHL offer 4 international shipping services to Aussies looking to ship overseas. These are:

  • DHL Packet International
  • DHL Packet Plus International
  • DHL Parcel International Standard
  • DHL Parcel International Direct

DHL Packet International

DHL packet international is great for economical low weight shipping. This service has a weight limit of 2kg and a size limit of 90cm x 90cm x 90cm making it an attractive option for ecommerce sellers looking to send small items internationally that are not time sensitive. Transit times for this service is between 3-14 days which is competitive in the economical international delivery space.

DHL Packet Plus International

DHL Packet Plus International is the same as the prior service execpt that it includes end to tracking and an option for shipment value protection. Giving you and your customer peace of mind in regards to transparency on the location of the parcel and guarantee on the shipment value should something happen to the parcel along its journey to the customer.

DHL Parcel International Standard

For shipments of up to 20kg and an L+W+H< 150cm DHL Parcel International Standard is a great option. DHL Parcel International Standard gives you the same benefits as Packet Plus without the size limits.

DHL Parcel International Direct

DHL Parcel International Direct offers direct injection into more than 30 key destinations around the world. End-to-end tracking with delivery confirmation and Duties and Taxes Paid clearance option make DHL Parcel International Direct the ideal product for cross-border E-Commerce.

Things to consider when shipping overseas

Shipping product overseas is far more complex than shipping domestically. There are far more rules and regulations that your shipment must meet to ensure your shipment arrives without delay. It is important that you research your products shippability, understand the different duties and taxes of each country and fill in the required documents correctly.

Research product shippability

Many factors determine what can be shipped across a country’s borders and what cannot. Some countries prohibit items outright; others may have a limit. Regardless, it is important to understand if you’re products can be sent overseas without any issue. There are a few ways to get this information:

  • UPS has a tool that shows country-specific rules and regulations by origin and destination countries.
  • Check to see if a given product category can be shipped to a destination through a simple Google search.
  • Check to see if any of your products-or components are listed as “dangerous goods” In a general sense, a “dangerous good” can be best described as product that may cause harm during transit. Here is an example of what the U.K government classifies as a dangerous good. 

Taxes, Duties and De Minimises

When exporting product overseas you may incur taxes and duties when the product arrives into the country of destination. The most common of these taxes is incurred when the de minimis value has been exceeded.

De Minimis Value as the threshold is known, varies from country to country. Items imported into the United States are subject to duty when the value is over USD 800. In Australia, duty and taxes kick in after the first USD 1,000.

Find De Minimis value by country

When the De Minimus value is exceeded the shipper is not always liable for the tax. Depending on which provider and service that you use will depend on whether the buyer or the seller pays that tax. For ecommerce transactions, we recommend that you choose a provider that allows you to pay the tax on the customer’s behalf. This avoids any unnecessary tax bills to customer leaving them with a bad purchase experience.

File the required documents

To ensure that your parcel arrives and clears through customs without delay it is important to fill the required documents correctly.  For all International shipments, you’ll need to fill out a customs form or declaration for all parcels and some letters you send overseas.

Good news is that filling out these declaration forms has never been easier with many shipping companies like the ones listed above provide the ability to fill out the form online.

Here is some information on choosing the right customs form from Auspost.

Final Thoughts

International shipping can be a complex thing to get right however if you know the basics and do some research, international shipping can be a breeze for your ecommerce store.

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