Whether you have an online business, a loved one in a foreign country, or just like sending that dude you met online presents it can get quite expensive to ship internationally. While most tips for shipping domestically apply to international deals there are a few differences that can be helpful to know when looking for cheap international shipping.
The first thing you need to know is the difference between International Economy Class and International Priority Class. In the States shipping Economy means your package just travels along the ground and may take up to a week to arrive. Not bad for the extra cash you saved right? Well with International Economy it means your package sits on a boat for 4-6 weeks and if your recipient doesn’t pick it up it gets sent back to you, for another 4-6 weeks only to have them wonder where it’s at and you have to ship it back. So with Economy you will most probably save some money but I really don’t think it’s worth it, especially if the contents are time sensitive. To me cheap international shipping means finding the best price for the service, not necessarily the lowest price, and I personally find Priority to be the ‘cheapest’ purely for time reasons. Another thing to note is that on occasion you can even find special deals and prices for Priority that will even be cheaper than Economy, the catch is that you have to ask for them. Always make sure to ask if there are any deals or incentives to ship certain ways as different carriers will run different promotions at different times and you never know when they may be trying to push their Air service or some other incentive for cheap international shipping.
On a side note, should you decide to ignore my advice and/or money issues prevent you from following it, and you do end up shipping Economy class then I highly recommending making absolute sure your return address and phone number are visible and making sure your recipients phone number is visible so when it gets to customs they can call them up if they don’t pick the package up right away.
Now that I’ve ranted about Priority over Economy I’m going to talk just a little more about the different prices offered through different carriers. Now I don’t endorse any carriers and I’ve used them all at least once which tells me that they can all have the lowest price at different times, so from that I’ve discerned the very valuable lesson to ALWAYS COMPARE RATES!! Never use the same carrier over and over again simply because you think they are the cheapest. Now I can’t argue with people that have had bad experiences repetitively with a certain company, that’s a whole different beast. But if your only reason for using a company is because you haven’t checked the competition then you have no right to complain about the high rates. The easiest way to find cheap international shipping that I know of is to compare the rates online since you get instant results and then know which carrier to take your business to rather than driving to all of them and then driving back to the winner. Online services can compare the rates from all the different carriers back to back and can make finding cheap international shipping much easier.
So if you have a destination abroad you need to ship to make sure you figure out which option is the best for your situation and when the package needs to get there. Only when you analyze the monetary value against the service offered can you really find cheap international shipping, and comparing the rates of different carriers helps a lot to!