Etsy MaineTeam International Shipping

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Original Post

Per team request and interest, here's a thread to share what we know and learn about international shipping.

A few helpful links I've found include:
An Etsy Blog post:
USPS shipping info:
USPS shipping rates, downloadable tables: (choose the type you're looking for)
USPS customs form (can be filled out online and printed):

And, just for the fun of it, maybe to encourage you to go international if you're hemming and hawing, my own blog post about the subject:

Posted at 7:57 am Apr 18, 2012 EDT


M, thank you for starting this thread and for posting those helpful links!

Soon I'll pop back in to share some of my experiences (and Joe's) with international shipping, but so far we've had great experiences shipping to Canada, the UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Australia.

Posted at 8:28 am Apr 18, 2012 EDT

These are fabulous resources; thank you for collecting them Malaika! Would love to hear other experiences too. I haven't shipped internationally yet and it does worry me...

Posted at 1:23 pm Apr 18, 2012 EDT

I've shipped to England, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, Brazil, Australia, and Singapore. The only countries where I've had customers contact me because items took a while to arrive were Italy and Brazil, but, in both cases, the items DID arrive without trouble (that I was told of), and without me having to initiate any investigation with customs.

Posted at 3:18 pm Apr 18, 2012 EDT

Yea! Thank you:) I will be following this thread, for sure!

Posted at 4:28 pm Apr 18, 2012 EDT

Fantastic resource links Malaika & thank you so much for taking the iniative to begin a dedicated thread as a resource forever. There are 2 ways of following individual team discussion threads:

1) While in a discussion thread; look to the left & click on the 'Mark" button


This link takes you to all team discussions. Look to the top of the page & you'll see a gray drop down menu that reads 'Discussions'. Just to the right of that is a search bar. When you create a discussion topic title that is clear & specific the key word search will work to get you there.

This is great stuff. Of course I have an opinion to share Do it in your own time. My Etsy business breakdown is: US 92%, Canada 5%, Others 2%. To spare the logistic nightmare for so little I just KISS it and don't bother with individual country break downs. Etsy is new at breaking into new countries & how to handle it. Most international business comes from 'english' speaking countries or people that speak english that are in another country now. I create a profile for US & Canada along with 'Everywhere Else' based on shipping costs to Australia.

I acknowlege the fact that I may be missing biz in some areas like PR, Mexico where the Everywhere Else rate is higher than it s/b; but time is money & get there when you can.

BTW, Etsy is working on building an international operation. This topic is going to continue to change as their programmers benchmark success of other venues like E Bay. My prior E Bay international business was much higher; not selling there now; but apples & oranges.

You can opt in for Etsy multi language at this time to French & German. To do this go to your account>Info & Appearance>Languages tab for more info. There are free language translator programs available via the internet that eill enable you to translate in case of convo's. I have not done this yet; but in my head to follow up & try it out.

Posted at 11:10 pm Apr 18, 2012 EDT

I have shipped a lot of international parcels over the years and what I learned is mark your packages that contain jewelry "fashion accessories" or "costume jewelry" to help deter theft.

Posted at 6:32 am Apr 19, 2012 EDT

DabHands from DabHands says
Edited on Apr 19, 2012

I am so excited about this thread! Thanks, Mal for all the helpful info. So far I've shipped to Singapore and Canada, both with no hassles.

Posted at 10:49 am Apr 19, 2012 EDT

The 1st time I ever did an International I was nervous. Read everything online, then went to the post office myself during slow business volume & chatted with the guy at the desk. It was a good experience, took 10 minutes of chatter, but I was sure from that point on that I’d be able to handle it & grow.

USPS is my choice provider based on best costs. I shipped about 400 packages over the past year in total to US & International, lots of them 13 ounces or less making it best to use the PO. You have to high shipping volume to get discounted rates from either UPS or Fed Ex as a provider. Etsy partners with Fed Ex for up to 21% off rates, still to expensive.

Lifetime I’ve shipped to 30+ countries. E Bay is where I first began my international shipping experience as a small business, but their system tools are FAR ADVANCED compared to current Etsy capabilities; I do foresee changes coming as Etsy programmers, staff & international growth plan align. But for today you should evaluate WHAT you normally ship based average values.

Here’s a few bullet points that likely mirror the average Maine Team shops:
1. Your average transaction is $400 or less
2. Your shipping weight & package size is standard as opposed to oversized
3. You want to attract international business with affordable costs yet want to manage risks
4. Scared, it’s new to me, TMI; decide to get over it or don’t; or revisit when you are ready
5. To offer affordable international shipping rates you will need to devote time to hand deliver to your local USPS office or use expensive priority rates for priority for pickup service order. You have to have an established steady daily shipping business to avoid a potential trip to the PO. Customers expect quick service; my policy is except for special orders, I ship within 1-2 business days of payment. You have to establish what you are willing to commit to in time to fill orders. (And BTW, to me, a shop that states they only ship 1 day per week is a turn off, not buying from that gal. Her message already states she’s not committed to her online clients.)
6. Write a clear policy specific to International orders; mine below; other long term shops have additional benchmark choices to help you decide your policy.
International Customers: Our shipping rates are via the least expensive method available via US Postal Service. We cannot provide tracking information & cannot refund for orders not received. If you want a gurantee; you will likely not like the shipping costs, but please feel free to contact us for a quote. Customer is responsible for duty and tariff fees per your countries laws.
Keep your tone friendly. Here’s link to Etsy help on general policy writing tips. Quick read, but worthy to take the time to drill into sub links for more info.
This link expands a bit more with specific International info towards the bottom of the page

Had an order to Sweden today, good time to look back at how I've been processing my international orders & did something change to make it easier or more cost / time effective! So I walked through trying to ship my Sweden order via online process & made notes of stumbling blocks.
1. Online service process via is only available for PRIORITY service packages. The minimum cost for priority service was $36 for an item that weighed with standard packaging 1 pound 9 ounces. I could ship the same package at affordable FIRST CLASS MAIL INTERNATIONAL rates for $16, which is what I calculated & advertised in the listing.
2. Besides the fact that PRIOTITY online shipping is way too expensive to attract a customer, you need to submit the recipient’s phone # ! You do not get that from Pay Pal & you also cannot process the shipping via Pay Pal for FIRST CLASS MAIL INTERNATIONAL service.
3. You have to be well versed at understanding the parameters of what info goes where for input values of province, zip code, a variety of countries. I don’t speak International USPS, their website seems to put the values into the correct fields, but it’s intimidating.
4. Poked around at some of the service providers like Endicia (Etsy mentions them). Premium program needed @ $15.95 per month & you still have to go to the PO or $34.95 per month with integrated UPS or Fed Ex Service.
So in summary to offer affordable international shipping costs you will need to
1. Go to your local USPS to process. Work it into your time schedule.
2. Label with written address labels & PS Form 2976 for most countries (sometimes there is a blip of port of entry, happened only a couple times, can’t remember what countries, but the PO guided me through)
3. Manage your risks! Have a clear policy, look up average shipping time per country on USPS calculation guidelines by service type. Remember to change the top drop down menu to select your country. Canada is 1-2 weeks, other destinations up to 4 weeks. Customs holds can further delay in real life, but it has only happened to me because my customs forms are accurate & I’ve been fortunate to not get held up in containers held! Customs holds take 2-6 weeks to clear.
4. I go to Etsy & mark as shipped, yet my Pal Pay account is where I resource all shipping because I can post a customs number as reference & send an email to the customer in one stop for every online account and transaction.
5. Urban myth VS real life. I often see warnings regarding shipping to non-verified Pay Pal account holders.’ Verified’ account status in Pay Pal is governed by country laws, not Pay Pal. Most times international buyers payments will be marked as ‘Non-Verified’ because it is NOT a requirement for their country; however; if the payment is cleared, it’s likely a good transaction. Feel free to email the customer to verify until you are comfortable with the process.

Mal posted some great links. I poked into the 1st via Etsy & found that article provided the wrong customs form #. I like this one better, accurate and a pretty easy read.

In the article above they state “Accurate description of the item(s) in English (this is how duty is calculated)”. Sounds simple; however customs descriptions may not be what you think. I’ll cover some basic structures next time. It’s more KISS than you think!

Posted at 10:53 pm Apr 21, 2012 EDT

I got an email from a guy in the UK who purchased some earrings for his girl at the beginning of April. He was inquiring where the package was in transit. He replied shortly after they arrived saying "The UK postal system delivers to local depots by high speed transport, then for the last few miles, the post bags are dragged by aging, short sighted tortoises."

It's true!

Posted at 8:10 am Apr 28, 2012 EDT

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