International Shipping and Freight Forwarding

If you are the type of person who places international orders, whether it be for personal use, or you might be reselling (as in the case of eBayers), you will at times encounter extremely high shipping fees. This need not be the case if you are willing to spend a little time and effort on doing your own research. The author has been active in the past as an eBayer and has discovered a few tricks which will aid you in both sending and receiving items.


Sending Items to Others

If you are eBaying you have to comply with ‘proof of delivery’ for your Seller PayPal/eBay protection. With physical goods this means that you ship your item with a signature required upon delivery. There are several options for this depending upon the speed with which your Buyer would like to receive the item.

If you are selling on eBay the best method to calculate this is to use the ‘Shipping Wizard’ in which you enter the weight, dimensions, countries that you will ship to, and delivery options that are available. This takes all the labor out of creating new quotes for customers and allows you to concentrate on your core duties. The main thing you have to watch is that you don’t ship to countries where there isn’t parcel tracking, and there’s a few of those.

Always ensure that your Buyer knows that he or she is responsible for any applicable Customs Duties or Tariffs. Also be aware that for full Seller protection you should insure large packages, and this means at full value. Do not set yourself up for failure, cover yourself for the possibility that the package should disappear or arrive damaged.

You also have to know how to track an item through the postal systems in other countries. Once your parcel arrives in a foreign country, unless you are using a private courier such as EMS, FedEx, etc, it will not be trackable in your home countries postal system. By entering your tracking information into the postal service of the destination country, you will be able to locate it. You might have to remove your countries identifiers and just use the number. A little trial and error and you should have it working.

This website provides a simple interface for tracking shipments through different countries with a minimum of time on your end. You can try different combinations of your tracking information to quickly determine what does work.

Ordering Items to Yourself Internationally

This can be considerably more expensive for most people if they haven’t discovered freight forwarding and package consolidation services. For instance you might wish to order an inexpensive item from the Sellers home country, but find out that the shipping will be many times more than the cost of the item. Or you could be ordering multiple items from one country, and the shipping fees combined for each item could become astronomical quickly. Customs forms can also cause issues. So what is the solution? A mail or freight forwarding service is your best best, of these options you have several choices, such as friends, private mail boxes, or professional freight forwarding services. Let's look at each one and the pros and cons of each.

Friends Who Can Forward Your Mail

Trusted friends and family provide the simplest method of having items shipped onwards. However you lose a degree of control, in the urgency of the matter, the choice of forwarding options, Custom Forms, etc. It can become a chore in and of itself, so it is worth looking at other options that make you less reliant upon others, and more independent.

Private Mail Boxes

This is an option that is especially good if you are going to be receiving personal mail, or numerous correspondences, in another country. Setting up the account for the private mail box will require you to either do it in person, or have a trusted friend or family member set it up in their name, and then get the paperwork for you to jointly be on the account. A potential pitfall of this is that your physical presence could be required to get your name on the account. However once this is done, or if your trusted friend or family member is responsible and reactive enough to your requests, you can forward on your mail in bulk, either at regular intervals, or as you choose.

The disadvantage is that a third party is now handling your mail, but the responsibility remains with you. What if they forget to forward your mail, miss some of it, or don’t attach the correct (or any) postage? Don’t laugh, it has happened to the author. This is a very real scenario. Also if you are behind or have missed payments, you could find that service is denied you until you both make the account current and possibly resubmit a new mailbox contract complete with ID. It soon becomes apparent that this method of forwarding mail has some serious limitations and liabilities.

Freight Forwarding Services

If you are going to be ordering internationally on any type of ongoing basis, and especially if you will be ordering multiple items, or items at different times, a freight forwarding service can be your best friend. These services can range from expensive to quite affordable, and it’s up to you to do the research to find a service that will suit your needs at an affordable price, with convenient world wide addresses for receiving mail, with professional service, and hopefully with shipping discounts passed on to you for their bulk rates.

Do this sound too good to be true? Perhaps, but the author has been using one service for several years now which has provided exceptional service at low cost, often on demand, and has saved hundreds of dollars in shipping fees. It might not be worth while for you, but being aware of your options allows you to make independent decisions when ordering items overseas, or considering ordering multiple items from overseas eBayers.

The Standard Account at

The service that has worked best for the author is “Shipito” (Disclaimer: the author is not associated with ‘shipito’ except for being a customer). There are several advantages to this service, making it worthy of consideration. However you should look around and be sure that this is right for you.

The standard service includes:

  • Only an $8.00 freight forwarding fee per item
  • Multiple shipping addresses around the world for you to use
  • You can fill in your own Customs Form for forwarding on items internationally
  • You receive a selection of shipping options such as Fedex, EMS, and more, at a discounted shipping rate. The shipping discount is about 33% cheaper than if you paid for it yourself

This service does require you to upload ID to verify who you are and the verification process takes a few days to a couple weeks. You also have to load your account with $8.00 USD which will be there to cover their forwarding fee for the first transaction. When an item arrives at any of your world wide addresses, you will receive an email notification. When you log into your ‘shipito’ account, you will see that there is a notification alerting you that there is a package waiting for you. This information will include three photos of the package, so you know the condition of the package as it arrived. Also there will be the weight and dimensions of the package. You have 90 days free storage of the item at their facility to forward it on to yourself. If you travel or are busy, this option can be quite helpful. You can also use ‘shipito’ to purchase the item for you, if ordering is blocked from your home country.

To forward this item on internationally, fill out a Customs Form, select the shipping option you prefer (all are signature upon delivery and expedited shipment), and then load up your account with the funds to cover the shipping costs. That’s it, you will receive an email once the item ships, and within about 5 days you will have your item in hand.

The advantage you have here is that you have taken control of the shipping options and have probably saved yourself a good chunk of money. For instance the author once ordered ‘USB Eruptors’ and the international shipping was in the neighborhood of $185, but by using ‘shipito’ the actual shipping cost was about $40.00, including the $8.00 fee that ‘shipito’ charged.

The disadvantage is that there are delays in the process. It takes an additional day or two for ‘shipito’ to accept the item, and there will be another day or two delay once you have paid for delivery and sent payment, until it is actually shipped. You have to weigh up the pros and cons yourself for whether this is worth it with your item. If your item is time sensitive then you would be best to have it mailed directly to you, bypassing any freight forwarding services. And what if you have multiple parcels coming in? In that case you should consider the ‘Premium’ account described below.

The Premium Account at

This upgraded account offers many advantages to frequent shippers, whether you are an eBayer wishing to consolidate packages, or a Buyer picking up items that are cheaper overseas, this is one of your best options. In addition to the services offered within the standard account, you can enable a premium account for a small fee. For a yearly subscription of $50.00 you can access the additional services, or if it’s a one off deal, you can just pay as you need it on a month by month basis for $10.00 per month you use it. You will still pay the $8.00 fee for each shipment, but you will save so much on package consolidation that this becomes irrelevant.


Upgraded services include:

  • Package consolidation of up to ten items, repacked in their original shipping boxes, within a larger box. This allows you to save significant money on shipping and allows you full privacy with your items.
  • Package consolidation of up to ten items, removed from their shipping packages, shipping material discarded, and the items repacked into a smaller box. This allows you to benefit from further savings by utilizing a smaller shipping package that also weighs less.
  • Package consolidation of up to ten items, removed from both their original shipping packages, and further removed from the manufacturers (or shippers) packaging. This allows your finished package to be significantly smaller and weigh even less than the previous option.

As always, the onus is upon you, using the service, to be honest with your Customs Forms. Depending upon your Country and the allowable value of items being imported, it could be in your best interest to combine your incoming items into two or more packages. Should you have packages opened, and this occurs more frequently with items from South America, you will have your name and address entered into a database. If you come to the attention of Customs, your previous patterns of shipments will be there, whether they have been opened or not. Generally items that are sent by expedited shipping have ‘preclearance’ with Customs and will pass through with little or no delay, as long as the declared value is less than the Customs Duties allowance, and you are honest in respect to the items description and value.


The intention of this article is to make you aware of shipping and receiving items safely, securely, and with minimum cost. There are probably other services out there than the one mentioned, and this is not an endorsement, so you should do your own research and also look at your shipping needs to determine if they could benefit from this service. Money saved on shipping is money in your pocket, and this is a prime motivation for writing this article, to assist others in also saving on exorbitant shipping fees, and empowering others to take control of their online shopping.


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