Whether you own a small business responsible for worldwide shipping or you have an important package to send to a friend or relative abroad, sending goods overseas can be a complex process, not to mention expensive. Ensuring your item reaches its destination in one piece and in a timely manner is all a matter of how much you’re prepared to pay; however, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend an absolute fortune for peace of mind. Consider the following tips for ensuring your package gets from A to B safely and promptly.

Use High-Quality Packaging

High-quality packaging is vital to ensure your items arrive at their destination undamaged by mishandling or poor weather conditions. Simply dropping an item into a mailing bag will not protect it during international transit, where it will likely spend a lot of time being moved from vehicle to vessel. Sturdy, secure packaging materials such as corrugated cardboard boxes are preferable for fragile items. Furthermore, ensure your box has enough surface area to be clearly and correctly labelled.

Select The Right Size Packaging

Generally speaking, it is advisable to choose packaging that is only slightly larger than your item, to save it from moving around during transit, potentially resulting in damage. However, unnecessarily large boxes may incur higher postage costs. Start by measuring your item and choosing a box with a few centimetres of room for protective filling materials. Various online resources are available to help you calculate the size of packaging that is best suited to your item.

Fill Empty Space

For fragile items, you may need to use protective packaging materials to fill any empty space. What you choose is entirely a matter of personal choice. Cost-effective, shock-absorbing and easy to find, bubble wrap is the go-to material for most online retailers. However, you could opt for an environmentally friendly alternative, such as recycled tissue paper, wood wool or biodegradable packing peanuts. You could also wrap items with harsh corners, such as books and artwork, in tissue paper for scuff protection.

Label Your Package Correctly

In order for your package to reach its destination promptly, it must be labelled clearly and correctly. Due to the prevalence of automated parcel sortation machinery, all parcel labels must be legible and easy to scan. If possible, write names and addresses in block capitals, in black permanent marker. It is also advisable to list the return address, so if for any reason your parcel cannot be delivered, it can be shipped back to you.

Consider Waterproof Mailing Bags

If you’re shipping parcels from a small business, you may have invested in bespoke packaging boxes to provide your customers with a unique, personalised experience. However, mishandling and bad weather conditions could spoil your efforts, so it may be worth considering extra protection in the form of waterproof mailing bags. Standard polythene mailing bags are generally affordable and can be bought in bulk. Furthermore, they are available in numerous sizes and colours so that you can match them to your brand aesthetic.

Consider Registered/Tracked Mail

International tracked mail provides extra protection and insurance for packages, making it ideal for valuable items. When opting for registered or tracked mail, senders receive a mailing receipt as proof of postage. They can then track their parcel until it reaches the recipient, at which point they will need to sign for proof of delivery. Many courier services offer extra protection, such as monetary compensation for lost or damaged parcels. This service is also one of the fastest ways of sending parcels internationally. However, due to a number of factors, your package may not reach its destination for up to 10 working days or longer, depending on the country. You can read more about international shipping here.

What You Cannot Ship

While the rules may vary depending on your parcel’s destination country and your chosen courier service, there are numerous items you cannot ship internationally from the UK. Including but not limited to:
  • Aerosoles, including deodorant, spray paint and hairspray.
  • Liquids containing more than 70% alcohol by volume.
  • Flammable liquids such as lighter fluid, petrol, diesel and turpentine.
  • Weapons such as firearms, swords and other blades.
  • Solvents like nail varnish remover and paint stripper.
  • Matches and lighters.
  • Controlled substances regardless of international law.
  • Perishable items such as fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Expert Tips for Personalising Your Gifts and Shipping Them Overseas