Skip to main content


Optimizing International Shipments: Strategies for a Seamless Experience

Explore a Q&A for common international shipping strategies and how businesses can leverage multi-carrier shipping software to enhance them

The global marketplace presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses of all sizes. International shipping allows you to reach new customer segments, tap into unsaturated markets, and significantly increase your sales potential. However, navigating the uncharted territory of international shipping can be a daunting task for businesses accustomed to domestic operations.

This blog post will serve as your guide, exploring common international shipping challenges and strategies to overcome them. We'll also delve into the benefits of using multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS) to streamline your international operations.

General Best Practices for International Shipping:

  • Research Customs Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the customs regulations and import restrictions of your target markets.
  • Secure Packaging: Invest in high-quality packaging materials to ensure your products arrive safely at their destination.
  • Consider Insurance: International shipping insurance provides protection against loss or damage during transit. [Learn more about shipping insurance]

Passport®, a leading global carrier and internationalization solutions provider, understands the challenges businesses face when shipping internationally. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions, helping you to navigate the process.

Customs Challenges & Solutions

Q: How can I ensure my shipments clear customs quickly and avoid delays?

A: Accurate shipment documentation is crucial. Mistakes in shipment details, including inaccurate Harmonized System (HS) codes, product valuation, goods descriptions, and missing necessary licenses or certificates, can lead to delays, fines, or even confiscation. Top-tier solutions offer hands-on compliance support to ensure all orders are accompanied by proper documentation and facilitate smooth customs clearance.

Q: How can I avoid unexpected costs due to duty and tax miscalculations?

A: Miscalculated duties and taxes can lead to unexpected costs, resulting in a poor customer experience, added financial burden for businesses, and potential delivery delays. Partner with carriers who understand all included costs, e.g. Passport’s landed cost calculator accurately displays all duties and taxes in real-time during checkout so customers can see exactly what they’ll pay upfront.

Q: What if I'm shipping products with specific import regulations, like cosmetics or supplements?

A: Navigating import regulations can be tricky, especially for highly regulated products. Ensuring compliance with country-specific import rules and commodity restrictions is crucial, especially for highly regulated products like cosmetics and nutritional supplements. Look for expert teams of licensed customs brokers and trade advisors specializing in navigating these complexities, to facilitate smooth customs clearance for your products.

Q: How can I simplify complying with international tax laws?

A: Understanding and complying with the various international tax laws can be complex. Leading carriers provide programs to simplify Value Added Tax (VAT)/Goods and Services Tax (CST) compliance by allowing merchants to collect the required taxes from consumers at checkout, while they handle filing returns with the appropriate authorities and even monitoring sales thresholds that apply in certain countries.

Q: What about handling international returns?

A: International returns can be complex due to customs requirements for shipments crossing borders, especially during post-peak seasons with increased volume. Look for carriers who can handle return information for customs and integrate with all major returns platforms, such as Happy Returns, Loop Returns, and Return Logic, to make the process seamless. Additionally, they should offer support in reclaiming duties and taxes for returned products when applicable.

Real-Time Tracking and Visibility

When managing international shipments, real-time tracking and visibility are essential for not only peace of mind but also data-driven decision-making. Knowing the location of your shipment and anticipating potential delays allows for proactive communication with your customers and access to real-time tracking data allows you to monitor shipment performance, identify areas for improvement, and optimize your shipping strategy.

Q: What features are important to consider when choosing a real-time tracking solution for international shipping?

A: Several key features can enhance your international shipping experience with real-time tracking including real-time updates, detailed tracking information, and even multi-carrier tracking if you work with multiple carriers.

Q: Are there any additional features that can be beneficial?

A: While not essential, some tracking solutions offer advanced features that can further streamline your international shipping processes:

  • Product suggestions: These suggestions can encourage customers to explore other products you offer while they wait for their shipment to arrive.
  • Digital portal access: A user-friendly portal allows you to monitor shipments, receive updates, and potentially troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
  • Integrated data: Pulling tracking data directly from numerous carriers ensures up-to-date information and eliminates the need to manage multiple tracking systems.

Documentation and Compliance Assistance

Q: What are some key considerations for ensuring proper documentation and compliance with customs regulations for international shipping?

A: Regulations vary by destination country and product category. Government websites and online resources can be helpful starting points. Consulting a customs broker can be valuable for complex regulations or high-value shipments. In addition, international shipments require detailed paperwork, often including commercial invoices, packing lists, and potentially additional licenses or permits.

Q: Can I get help with documentation and compliance?

A: Absolutely! Some logistics providers offer services to assist you with documentation and compliance. With services that include HS code management, customs valuation assistance, product description guidance, regulatory product reviews, and licenses and permits support.

Q: What are some ways merchants can stay compliant with international tax regulations?

A: Navigating international tax regulations poses a significant challenge for merchants, especially when dealing with indirect taxes in various countries. While some markets handle taxes on imports directly, others require merchants to register for a tax ID and manage taxes outside the import process. The complexity increases with distance-selling thresholds, which vary based on factors like shipment value and applicable tax rates.

For compliance, merchants have a few options: seeking local expertise, utilizing third-party services, or engaging in partnerships that manage tax complexities on their behalf. Hiring local tax firms offers expertise but can be costly and still requires merchants to handle most tax-related tasks. Third-party firms provide some relief, though merchants often find the service lacking in reducing their workload.

Pro Tip: Passport's approach to tax compliance presents the ideal combination of convenience and effectiveness. They monitor a merchant's sales within a specific market and as they near the threshold, they have the opportunity to enroll in the Passport Seller of Record™ (SOR) program. This innovative solution allows businesses to ship on Passport's tax ID and outsource tax collection, reconciliation, remitting, and reporting.

Enhancing the Overall Customer Experience for International Shipping

Q: How can businesses create a positive international shipping experience for both them and their customers?

A: Transparency and clear communication are key throughout the entire process. Customers appreciate timely updates on order confirmations, shipment tracking information, and any delays or exceptions that might occur. Additionally, ensuring fast and reliable delivery is crucial. Choosing efficient carriers and optimizing shipping routes can significantly improve on-time deliveries.

Building trust with customers involves upfront cost transparency. This means including duties and taxes calculated at checkout to avoid surprise fees. Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) shipping options streamline the experience for customers by incorporating all duties and taxes into the upfront purchase price.

Finally, offering features like branded tracking pages with push notifications empowers customers to easily track their shipments and stay informed about delivery status. Prompt and professional assistance ensures both businesses and customers receive personalized help when needed.

Streamlining the E-commerce Shipping Process

Q: How can e-commerce businesses streamline their international shipping processes?

A: Several strategies can help e-commerce businesses streamline their international shipping processes including partnering with a logistics provider with experience in international shipping. This strategy can take the burden off your team and ensure smooth operations.

In addition, working with a provider that offers compliance support ensures your shipments meet all necessary requirements and avoid delays. Look for providers with strong carrier networks, customs clearance expertise, and efficient fulfillment capabilities.

For businesses looking to expand into new markets, comprehensive internationalization solutions can be valuable. These solutions may offer features like localized store content, currency conversion, and market-specific pricing strategies, all designed to enhance the customer experience in different regions.

While utilizing a seasoned international carrier like Passport offers a foundation for successful overseas shipping, leveraging advanced multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS) offers another layer of efficiency and seamlessness for your international operations.

Let's explore how integrating ProShip’s industry-leading shipping solution with Passport's elite carrier services creates a comprehensive solution for streamlining your international shipping operations.

By integrating ProShip’s robust multi-carrier shipping software, you can achieve:

Seamless Integration: ProShip’s MCSS can integrate with your existing enterprise software stack (ESS), creating a seamless shipping experience and allowing businesses to manage their carriers and shipping operations within a single platform.

Expanded Carrier Network: ProShip offers a broad network of final mile, regional, national, and international carriers, allowing you to compare rates and choose the most cost-effective, efficient, and reliable options for your specific needs.

Automated Workflows: ProShip’s multi-carrier shipping software automates manual tasks such as label generation and rate shopping, significantly saving businesses time and eliminating costly errors.

Versionless Architecture: Unlike traditional shipping software with costly upgrades and disruptive downtime, ProShip's versionless architecture ensures you always have access to the latest features and functionality without interruption to your workflows. This eliminates the need for constant updates and allows you to focus on growing your business.

The ProShip and Passport Powerhouse

Overall, navigating the complexities of international shipping requires a strategic approach and access to the right tools, technology, and resources. Fortunately, the combination of Passport’s international shipping expertise and ProShip’s robust multi-carrier shipping software provides the ideal international shipping powerhouse designed to streamline your operations and unlock new growth opportunities.

From managing customs challenges to providing real-time tracking and visibility, Passport offers a range of solutions to streamline international shipping operations and enhance the overall customer experience. Moreover, by integrating Passport with ProShip’s top-tier solution, businesses can further optimize their shipping processes, maximize efficiency, reduce costs, and gain valuable insights into daily shipping operations.

With the right strategies and tools in place, businesses can overcome the challenges of international shipping and unlock new opportunities for growth and success in the global marketplace. To learn more about how ProShip can transform your shipping operations, schedule a discovery call with our team of shipping experts.

This blog was written in partnership with international shipping experts from Passport. Learn more about Passport: