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How do you ship small items internationally?

Old 01-11-13, 01:31 PM
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How do you ship small items internationally?

I feel like this has been discussed ad nauseum, but my search was unproductive. I'm looking for advice on shipping small items (a pound or two in a small box) internationally with delivery confirmation, at the best possible price.

I was burned once by an international buyer who claimed not to have received the item I sent, so generally I don't ship internationally. But on occasion I have an item that I feel I should offer to a broader market. USPS doesn't seem to have delivery confirmation as an option on international shipments, and Fed-X is crazy expensive. Any advice?
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Old 01-11-13, 01:38 PM
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Fed Ex is expensive, but that might be the best choice, if the buyer will spring for it. I just had two snorkel masks shipped from Italy, of all places. (no longer available here, my pet peeve: planned obsolescence) for about 23 bucks. Not cheap by any means. But I had no choice for these items. USPS Priority with signature required is about the same. Just no good, cheap way to get around it.
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Old 01-11-13, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
Fed Ex is expensive, but that might be the best choice, if the buyer will spring for it. I just had two snorkel masks shipped from Italy, of all places. (no longer available here, my pet peeve: planned obsolescence) for about 23 bucks. Not cheap by any means. But I had no choice for these items. USPS Priority with signature required is about the same. Just no good, cheap way to get around it.
$23 would be fine. UPS and Fed-x with signature are about $100 for a 1 pound box (to Japan), and USPS says they don't have delivery confirmation on international shipments.
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Old 01-11-13, 02:01 PM
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No, but the USPS does have signature required reception. I just returned a head set to a guy in France and I think it cost me $25 as I recall. Also, on the shipment from Italy via Fed Ex, I was able to track it on the Fed Ex web site. Does that count as a method which proves delivery? I would think so. Maybe not.
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Old 01-11-13, 02:48 PM
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I just use USPS and take a leap of faith the buyer is honest.
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Old 01-11-13, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
internationally with delivery confirmation Any advice?
SOL W/ International shipping your taking chances, its all part of doing buisness.
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Old 01-11-13, 03:12 PM
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Sent a bayonet to a guy in the Netherlands , USPS , no official tracking, but it did have an item # for "inquiry" purposes. He had excellent feedback (ebay) , and had done business in the US before . Took 2.5 weeks to be delivered , no issues .
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Old 01-11-13, 05:38 PM
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I can't speak for their rates but check out DHL. A lot of our customers at work use them for international shipping.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:57 PM
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USPS registered mail. The recipient is required to sign for it.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
USPS registered mail. The recipient is required to sign for it.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:23 PM
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USPS - keep the box size under 12" and weight under 4lbs. Super-cheap to anywhere...
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Old 01-11-13, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
USPS registered mail. The recipient is required to sign for it.
I pulled this up for a 3lb box to France....


Fee: $11.75

Maximum Indemnity: $47.33

Available only for First-Class Mail International,
including postcards, Priority Mail International
Flat Rate Envelopes, Priority Mail International
Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes, and matter for the
blind or other physically handicapped persons.
Plus another $17 for the small flat rate box...

So $25 to ship a small flat rate box and its only insured up to $47.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:45 PM
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I use International Flat Rate boxes, and they generally only track to Customs, so it's a leap of faith unless you sell by eBay and have the feedback needed for immediate payment to your account, or spring for Registered Mail.

I've not had any problems with overseas eBay buyers; they are generally very courteous and willing to help with communication, feedback right away, confirmation, etc.

I did ship once to South Korea, and was worried because the tracking supposedly stops. I asked the USPS via their web site to help, and they sent the Customs Delivery confirmation the next day. This, plus feedback, allowed me to get the funds released before the two-week black hole of you'll never see your money.

USPS uses Fed Ex overseas, in some cases, with the end result being a Delivery Confirmation.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:51 PM
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I have on occasions purchased items from a USA supplier.
It most often is a deal breaker if they will not ship USPS.
USPS is reliable and economical. 100% satisfaction for me.
If you use UPS or FedX, the cost of shipping will void any benefit the purchaser would have sought to obtain.
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Old 01-11-13, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
I pulled this up for a 3lb box to France....




Plus another $17 for the small flat rate box...

So $25 to ship a small flat rate box and its only insured up to $47.
I just sent some hubs to Norway. USPS registered was $30. My FedEx quote was $110. You choose.
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Old 01-12-13, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
I just sent some hubs to Norway. USPS registered was $30. My FedEx quote was $110. You choose.
I understand but it still only insured to $47.
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Old 01-13-13, 11:37 AM
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I was curious about this thread precisely because I am selling something (a fountain pen) and received a note asking if I would ship to Turkey. I had a devil of a time figuring out from the USPS website just how much it was going to cost. I eventually went part of the way down the path of actually buying postage. I found that small flat rate boxes (the pen would easily fit in that size box) can't be sent to Turkey. The medium flat rate box costs $48. That doesn't include adders for insurance or delivery confirmation (if they even support it for packages sent to Turkey). Since it was the weekend and the auction ends before the P.O. is open again, I declined. No sense sending the guy a shipping estimate which turns out to be low and either returning to negotiations on the shipping. So, unless you can put a finger on the precise costs in a timely fashion (perhaps because you ship internationally on a regular basis), I'd decline.

Just my two cents...
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Old 01-13-13, 04:54 PM
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While this isn't advice speaking directly to the OP's question, it occurs to me that this is not a bad place to mention that I heard yesterday from a seemingly in-the-loop ebay seller that USPS international rates are to rise sharply at the end of January - I haven't checked this out myself, but the source of the info does extremely high volume of sales and said that they got their info directly from USPS on the prospective changes.

Thought that might be of interest to some - I will have to follow up on the info and confirm details. Affects me on the opposite end - I receive a lot of shipments from the USA up here in Canada. It's not really surprising that rates would go up - USPS is ridiculously cheap compared, for example, to Canada Post: a 12"x10"x5" box at 3lbs cost a US seller about $10-15 to ship to me, I'm now returning it at a cost to me of $23!
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Old 01-13-13, 05:39 PM
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This is one of those seemingly simple questions with potentially very complex answers. I would find it hard to make a recommendation for you without knowing the average/potential value of the items and the sales venue. Are you talking small items worth under $10, under $25, under $100, over $100? Are you selling direct from a website, through forums or ebay? Using paypal for payment, accepting credit cards directly? All this stuff kinda matters. My experience is selling primarily on ebay, payment by paypal, most items $50+ in value.

In general UPS/FedEx are quite expensive for anything small/light internationally, and often the buyer is hit with additional clearance/brokerage fees weeks after the item is received. I've always only used USPS.

If you're taking payment via paypal, you only receive seller's protection if you ship using an insured and trackable method, and only if you ship to the buyer's registered paypal address. That pretty much means USPS Priority Int'l or USPS Express Int'l, if the item is of sufficient value that you want seller's protection and want insurance. Both are insurable and trackable, Express tracks much better than Priority, data is updated faster and more often. My minimum int'l charges are $25 to Canada via USPS Priority and $35 (if it fits in legal-size padded envelope) to $55 (small box) to other int'l locations via USPS Express. I realize that means an int'l bidder is unlikely to bid on a $10 item, but I don't need int'l bidders for $10 items. They will bid on $50+ items, and 60%+ of my $500+ items go overseas.

Cheaper USPS shipping methods clearly exist, and are more attractive to buyers. Works great as long as you're willing to be at total risk if the item is lost or damaged, which if the item is only worth $5-$10 might not be a bad idea. I try not to sell $5-$10 items, factoring in my time/energy I'm not making any money on items that cheap. If you want to be protected if the item is lost/damaged, shipping won't be cheap, especially when you factor in insurance.

What works for me is offering Priority to Canada and Express everywhere else. I don't offer other choices, don't make exceptions, won't offer lower shipping fees at the cost of my own protection. I'd rather you not bid than possibly lose the item and the payment. Nobody's forcing anybody to bid on anything and I'm not willing to accept lower levels of protection to save you money. I refund most of any overpayment, and I eat the difference if I undercharged.

Even doing this isn't perfect, I got burned on a $300 item to India. Buyer claimed it was never delivered, tracking showed it hadn't left customs, Indian customs wouldn't respond to my emails or phone calls. Paypal refunded the buyer in full, I couldn't claim USPS insurance before the claim period ended because Indian customs never cleared the item or answered my queries. Never got the item back. No more shipments to India for me.

I've also had buyers refuse to pay after winning an item unless I changed shipping method/price. I file a non-payment claim, block them from further bidding, and relist the item. Can't give them negative feedback any more...

One trick I've found for genuinely small items is that the tyvek flat rate envelopes can swallow small boxes pretty easily. The small box shipped as a box is $45-$55, the same box in a flat-rate envelope is $35.

Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
I feel like this has been discussed ad nauseum, but my search was unproductive. I'm looking for advice on shipping small items (a pound or two in a small box) internationally with delivery confirmation, at the best possible price.

I was burned once by an international buyer who claimed not to have received the item I sent, so generally I don't ship internationally. But on occasion I have an item that I feel I should offer to a broader market. USPS doesn't seem to have delivery confirmation as an option on international shipments, and Fed-X is crazy expensive. Any advice?
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Old 01-13-13, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
I was curious about this thread precisely because I am selling something (a fountain pen) and received a note asking if I would ship to Turkey. I had a devil of a time figuring out from the USPS website just how much it was going to cost. I eventually went part of the way down the path of actually buying postage. I found that small flat rate boxes (the pen would easily fit in that size box) can't be sent to Turkey. The medium flat rate box costs $48. That doesn't include adders for insurance or delivery confirmation (if they even support it for packages sent to Turkey). Since it was the weekend and the auction ends before the P.O. is open again, I declined. No sense sending the guy a shipping estimate which turns out to be low and either returning to negotiations on the shipping. So, unless you can put a finger on the precise costs in a timely fashion (perhaps because you ship internationally on a regular basis), I'd decline.

Just my two cents...
The flat rate boxes are often not the best deal for small, lightweight items (like a fountain pen). Using your own small box, you can ship to Turkey for less than $10.
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Old 01-13-13, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by pcb View Post
This is one of those seemingly simple questions with potentially very complex answers. I would find it hard to make a recommendation for you without knowing the average/potential value of the items and the sales venue. Are you talking small items worth under $10, under $25, under $100, over $100? Are you selling direct from a website, through forums or ebay? Using paypal for payment, accepting credit cards directly? All this stuff kinda matters. My experience is selling primarily on ebay, payment by paypal, most items $50+ in value.

The item that prompted my query has a value over $200 and is being sold through Ebay, payment by Paypal.

In general UPS/FedEx are quite expensive for anything small/light internationally, and often the buyer is hit with additional clearance/brokerage fees weeks after the item is received. I've always only used USPS.

If you're taking payment via paypal, you only receive seller's protection if you ship using an insured and trackable method, and only if you ship to the buyer's registered paypal address. That pretty much means USPS Priority Int'l or USPS Express Int'l, if the item is of sufficient value that you want seller's protection and want insurance. Both are insurable and trackable, Express tracks much better than Priority, data is updated faster and more often. My minimum int'l charges are $25 to Canada via USPS Priority and $35 (if it fits in legal-size padded envelope) to $55 (small box) to other int'l locations via USPS Express. I realize that means an int'l bidder is unlikely to bid on a $10 item, but I don't need int'l bidders for $10 items. They will bid on $50+ items, and 60%+ of my $500+ items go overseas.

I was told by the post office that tracking was only available on Express International, not on Priority International, and that neither offered delivery confirmation. However, it is possible to ship Registered and add on a return receipt requiring the recipient's signature. My concern has been that, in the absence of tracking, I want some tangible proof that the item was received. Otherwise, in a Paypal dispute, it's my word against the buyer's, and we know which way Ebay tends to rule in that court. This is what happened to me in the past, and the fact that I had proof of mailing made no difference. The buyer said he didn't receive the item, and that was that.

I would hope that a receipt of delivery bearing the buyer's signature would be enough to protect one from this exposure, whether or not USPS chooses to call it delivery confirmation.

Cheaper USPS shipping methods clearly exist, and are more attractive to buyers. Works great as long as you're willing to be at total risk if the item is lost or damaged, which if the item is only worth $5-$10 might not be a bad idea. I try not to sell $5-$10 items, factoring in my time/energy I'm not making any money on items that cheap. If you want to be protected if the item is lost/damaged, shipping won't be cheap, especially when you factor in insurance.

What works for me is offering Priority to Canada and Express everywhere else. I don't offer other choices, don't make exceptions, won't offer lower shipping fees at the cost of my own protection. I'd rather you not bid than possibly lose the item and the payment. Nobody's forcing anybody to bid on anything and I'm not willing to accept lower levels of protection to save you money. I refund most of any overpayment, and I eat the difference if I undercharged.

Even doing this isn't perfect, I got burned on a $300 item to India. Buyer claimed it was never delivered, tracking showed it hadn't left customs, Indian customs wouldn't respond to my emails or phone calls. Paypal refunded the buyer in full, I couldn't claim USPS insurance before the claim period ended because Indian customs never cleared the item or answered my queries. Never got the item back. No more shipments to India for me.

This is exactly what happened to me, but on a shipment to Spain.


I've also had buyers refuse to pay after winning an item unless I changed shipping method/price. I file a non-payment claim, block them from further bidding, and relist the item. Can't give them negative feedback any more...

One trick I've found for genuinely small items is that the tyvek flat rate envelopes can swallow small boxes pretty easily. The small box shipped as a box is $45-$55, the same box in a flat-rate envelope is $35.
See reply comments above in bold italics.
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Old 01-13-13, 11:56 PM
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USPS. They ship on their Fedex account but have a very low contracted rate and you pay a small premium over that amount.

I've had good results shipping to Japan.
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Old 01-14-13, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mparker326 View Post
I just use USPS and take a leap of faith the buyer is honest.
+1

However, I only did this for items that were very easy to procure and had high volume sales, so even if one or two buyers tried to burn me, I would still be profitable overall. (I was lucky and had no fraud attempts.)

If I were trying to do a one-time sale of a rare or semi-rare (and/or expensive) part, I would be much more likely to make the buyer pay for more expensive shipping that has tracking.
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