Raise your hand if you’re confused about international shipping. If you raised your hand, don’t worry — you’re not alone! Domestic shipping is confusing enough, so it’s no surprise people struggle when it comes to figuring out international shipping.

Not only are there restrictions on what you can and can’t ship, but international shipping can also be quite expensive. So, if you’re looking to ship internationally but want to make sure you’re doing it right, here are some tips and tricks that’ll help you get your package to your destination in no time.

Fill Out the Correct Paperwork

In order to ship packages internationally, you will need to make sure to fill out the proper paperwork. 

You will have to fill out a commercial invoice, which requires you to include the information of the item you’re shipping, the person receiving the shipment, the value of the item, etc. Make sure to have all this information on hand when you get to the post office.

And, though not always necessary, you may also need to include a Certificate of Origin for the item you’re shipping. Make sure to check the UPS website to see if your package requires this document.  

Weight — Literally — Your Options

When shipping internationally, don’t just pick the first shipping service that comes to mind. Just like buying a car or a house, you shouldn’t just go with the first option you see. 

Compare the international rates of all the major couriers, such as FedEx, USPS, and UPS, and then pick which one you’re going to go with. If you’re OK with the package taking a bit longer to get to its destination, pick a shipping option that takes a few more days. You can also negotiate rates with couriers, especially if you’re going to be shipping internationally often. 

Here are items that cannot be shipped internationally through the USPS:

  • Aerosols
  • Air bags
  •  Alcoholic beverages
  • Ammunition
  • Cigarettes
  • Dry Ice
  • Explosives
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Gasoline
  • Nail Polish
  • Perfumes Containing Alcohol
  • Poison 
  • Pool Chemicals

Package Properly

You can usually get away with using just a little bit of protective packaging for domestic shipping, but you’ll want to be more careful with international shipping. Because the package has farther to go, there’s a greater chance the item could break en route to its destination.

In order to keep your items safe, it’s very important it’s wrapped properly. Use bubble wrap or styrofoam wedges and stay away from a newspaper or airbags.