When your business ships internationally, you’re always looking for ways to cut costs. The countries you export from can impact your bottom line, as some tend to have higher shipping costs. Ultimately, the costs for shipping will depend on your cargo and carrier. But if you know the typical costs for exporting from certain countries, you can narrow down where you’d like to export from.
Factors in shipping rates
What should you take into account when estimating your shipping costs? Carriers and freight forwarders usually charge you based on duration, infrastructure, regulatory paperwork, and duties.
Some ocean carriers will reduce their speed to save on shipping costs, but it means you will get your cargo later. You can choose this option to pay less on shipping, but getting delayed shipments may impact other areas of your business. A tool that helps you forecast shipping schedules is Linescape, a search engine for container shipping.
The infrastructure in foreign countries — including railroads, roads, ports, and airports — can impact how quickly and easily carriers can move your goods. Poor infrastructure could drive up shipping costs. Another consideration is whether the country you’re exporting from is landlocked. Landlocked countries tend to have greater freight costs and less predictable transit times.
To cross goods over borders, your shipment may have to go through customs. Filling out the right paperwork and paying the right fees will affect the overall cost to ship from a particular country, as will the time it takes to move goods through customs. For instance, World Bank data indicates that it takes four hours to export goods from the U.S., but 130 hours from countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
You can ensure that your customs paperwork is always in order by working with a customs broker.
Paying duties or tariffs on exports and imports will raise your shipping costs. If your business is based in Canada, you can check which countries or regions Canada has trade agreements with. Choosing to import from countries that don’t levy tariffs on certain goods could be a wise business move.
The most expensive countries to ship from
To determine the most expensive countries to import from, you have to look at the factors mentioned in addition to several others. With so many considerations, it’s hard to know exactly which countries will cost your business the most to export from. Typically, a 20-foot container full of dry goods is the most expensive to ship from the following 10 countries:
- Central African Republic
- South Sudan
In general, the least expensive countries to ship from include:
- East Timor
- Sri Lanka
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Hong Kong
The most expensive countries to ship to
Amazon’s Sellics service analyzed shipping costs for 40 G20 and EU countries. They determined how expensive it is to ship a 2kg package to each country using local express shipping. Of the countries Sellics tested, Romania was the most expensive to ship to and the U.S. was the cheapest. Canada is the 12th cheapest country to ship to.
Measuring with the Sellics data, the 10 most expensive countries to ship to are:
- South Korea
Keep in mind that this data excludes all countries in South America, all but one country in Africa, and many south Asian countries. You can see a visualization of the Sellics data and read more about it on their website.
The least expensive countries to ship to
The Sellics data pinpointed the U.S. as the cheapest country to ship to. Which other countries in their analysis cracked the top 10?
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom
Choosing foreign suppliers for imported goods
If you want to import goods from foreign countries, you should dig deeper than how much it costs to ship. As we mentioned, several things factor into the cost of international shipping. For example, to learn if a supplier from the U.S. is really the most budget-friendly option for your business, you’ll have to research suppliers of your product, carrier fees, duties, and other relevant data.
If you have no idea which foreign countries would be good for your business, you can start by looking at the countries your nation has free trade agreements with. Lower trade barriers and tariffs won’t cut costs completely, but it will significantly reduce duties. You can find which countries Canada has trade agreements with in this guide.
Working with a customs broker
Choosing a foreign supplier is a big decision. At Border Buddy, we make running your business easier by handling customs for all your international shipments. Contact us today with questions about moving your goods across borders.