How to Ship Internationally (Step-by-Step Guide)

how to ship internationally

International shipping has become a vital aspect of business in today’s global economy.

Companies that offer international shipping can reach a broader audience and expand their customer base.

If you’re a business owner based in the UK looking to expand your business globally, international shipping is a must.

Shipping internationally can, however, be challenging if you’re not familiar with the process.


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I’ll cover everything you need to know about the process in this article.

Table of Contents

How to Ship Internationally from the UK

Follow these procedures for a good experience and successful delivery.

Understand International Shipping

Before you start shipping internationally, it’s crucial to understand the different types of international shipping methods and customs and duties regulations.

This will help you in navigating the complex process of international shipping and ensure that your shipments arrive at their destination smoothly.

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with international shipping methods

The two primary methods of international shipping are air and sea freight.

  • Air Freight

This is a popular option for individuals and businesses looking to ship goods internationally quickly.

It involves transporting goods by air, and it’s ideal for small and valuable items, as well as time-sensitive shipments.

Air freight can be expensive, but it’s a reliable option if you have a strict delivery timeline.

You can choose from different types of air freight services, such as standard air freight, express air freight, and door-to-door air freight.

Standard air freight involves shipping goods from airport to airport, while express air freight involves expedited shipping services.

Door-to-door air freight, on the other hand, involves picking up goods from your location and delivering them to their destination.

  • Sea Freight

Sea freight is a more cost-effective option if you plan to ship large quantities of goods.

It involves transporting goods by sea, and it’s suitable for bulky and heavy items.

However, sea freight takes longer to arrive, and you need to plan your shipment to allow for a longer delivery time.

You can choose from different types of sea freight services, such as full container load (FCL) and less than container load (LCL).

FCL involves shipping goods in a full container, while LCL involves consolidating goods from different customers into a single container.

Step 2: Research customs regulations

Every country has its customs regulations, and it’s essential to comply with them to avoid delays, fines, or even the return of your shipment.

These regulations include restrictions on certain goods, such as prohibited items and controlled substances.

It’s your responsibility to research and understand the customs regulations of the country you’re shipping to and confirm that your goods comply with these regulations.

Step 3: Understand duties and taxes

You also need to know the duties and taxes that apply to your shipments.

Duties and taxes are fees charged by the destination country’s government to import goods into the country.

The particular amount can vary depending on the type of goods being shipped and the country of origin.


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Research and understand the duties and taxes that apply to your shipments and factor these costs into your pricing strategy.

Prepare for International Shipping

how hard is it to ship internationally

This can seem overwhelming. But you can get it done easily with the right approach.

Step 4: Obtain the necessary documentation

To clear customs when shipping internationally, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the necessary documentation.

The documents you need may vary depending on the destination country, but some common documents include a commercial invoice, packing list, and certificate of origin.

Research the specific requirements for the country you’re shipping to and ensure that you have all the necessary documents.

  • Commercial invoice

It’s a document that provides a description of the goods being shipped and their value. It’s used by customs officials to calculate duties and taxes.

  • Packing list

This lists the contents of each package in the shipment. The carrier uses this to ensure that all packages have been received and that nothing has been lost or damaged.

  • Certificate of origin

It verifies the country of origin of the goods being shipped. This helps customs officials to determine whether any trade agreements or restrictions apply.

Step 5: Package and label your items correctly

Use sturdy packaging materials that can withstand the shipping process, including any customs inspections.

Also, label your package correctly with the right address, contact information, and customs declarations.

Customs declarations inform customs officials of the contents of your package and can affect the duties and taxes you’ll be charged.

Step 6: Choose a reliable international shipping carrier

Compare different reliable carriers and choose one that offers services that meet your needs.

Consider the carrier’s reputation, delivery timeframes, and any additional services they offer, such as package tracking.

Step 7: Understand your shipping insurance options

Most carriers offer insurance for international shipments, but it’s essential to understand the coverage and limitations of each policy.

Consider the value of your shipment and the risks involved when deciding which insurance policy to choose.

Some carriers may offer additional insurance options for high-value items or items that require extra protection during transport.

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How to Prepare for Potential Issues and Delivery Times

international shipping documents

Keep in mind that many variables can affect the shipping process when shipping internationally.

Take the right approach to prepare ahead.

Factor in extra time for delivery

International shipping can take longer than domestic shipping, so it’s important to take into account additional time for shipping.

Understand the shipping carrier’s estimated delivery timeframes and factor in potential delays due to customs inspections, weather, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Have a plan in place for issues

Even with thorough preparation, issues can still arise during international shipping.

Have a strategy to manage possible complications, such as lost or damaged shipments, customs delays, or incorrect documentation.

Make sure to communicate with your shipping carrier to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

Consider holidays

Keep the destination country’s holidays and peak seasons in mind when planning for international shipping.

During these times, shipping carriers and customs officials may be experiencing higher volumes of shipments, leading to potential delays.

How to Ship Internationally (Step-by-Step Guide)

Remz is a professional who has been writing content for almost 10 years. He's a shipping and logistics enthusiast and the head of the Trust Heritage Logistics content team. He bagged an MSc degree shortly after graduating from the university with flying colours. When it comes to creating content, Remz loves to do in-depth research and provide amazing pieces of information that every reader will find helpful.

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