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How to Ship Your Etsy Products Internationally

Although you can certainly limit your Etsy business to domestic buyers, part of the fun of selling on Etsy is connecting with international customers. First, however, you need to get a feel for the ins and outs of shipping internationally. Keep a few points in mind:

  • Items shipped to some countries, such as Canada and countries in the European Union, may be subject to duties or taxes. Make sure that the buyer knows he’ll be responsible for these. A good way to do so is to include language to that effect on your shop’s Policies page.

  • If your package contains “potentially dutiable contents” (that’s post office speak for items subject to duties or taxes), you need to include a Customs form — period, end of story. To figure out what type of form you need, check with your carrier or go to the Customs website. Be sure to fill out the form thoroughly, to keep it from being held up at Customs.

  • Shipping certain items — think food products, plant and animal products, precious jewelry, and so on — is prohibited in some countries. To find out whether your item is prohibited, check out the Individual Country Listings page on the USPS website. You’ll see a list of countries; click the link for the country in question to view a list of restricted and prohibited items.

    Don’t indicate that the item is a gift, even if your buyer asks you to. It’s not cricket, and it can get you into trouble. Besides, even gifts may be subject to duties and taxes.

Be sure to warn international customers that you can’t be responsible for delays if your package gets stuck in Customs.

If you’re just getting started, consider shipping to just a few countries — say, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, and European Union (EU) countries. Then, when you’re more comfortable with the procedures involved, you can expand to ship everywhere. Just don’t indicate that you’re willing to ship anywhere on Earth unless you’ve done the research to find out how much that will cost!

If you’ve chosen to ship via USPS, a great place to start is the aforementioned Individual Country Listings page on the USPS website. You can also check out the First-Class Mail International Prices page and the Priority Mail International Prices page.

If you find yourself shipping internationally regularly, look into using Endicia. In addition to enabling you to print labels for domestic packages, Endicia allows you to print international shipping labels that integrate the necessary Customs forms — and with a discount to boot! Plus, Endicia’s International Mail Advisor feature helps you navigate the complexity of shipping internationally by spelling out which items are prohibited where, and more.

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