Shipping between Canada, the US, and Mexico already has its challenges, but what if your business is ready to expand beyond North America? You’ll have many of the same import and export concerns, but there are several shipping considerations to take into account.
Let’s look at 6 things to consider related to the factors that impact your shipments leaving North America.
Create an export plan
Whenever you ship internationally, your business should have an export plan. In your plan, you should include the following:
- Export potential: Do your products have the potential to do well outside your home country? If your products turn a profit at home, they can likely do so in other countries with similar market conditions. But cultures are different.
- Market research: Is your target destination country a good market for your products? Does your home country have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the country you are selling to?
- Export licenses: Businesses in the US rarely need an export license but Canadian companies must get a Business Number (BN) for importing and exporting. Also, check the list of restricted or prohibited imports for the country you’re shipping to. Trying to ship restricted items could be a costly mistake.
- Understand the language barrier: Since English is a recognized international shipping language, you typically won’t have to fill out a customs declaration in another language. For marketing your products to a foreign country, however, take the language barrier into account.
Helpful resources for your export plan
Canada Post has a helpful tool that lets you see import restrictions and rules to every country or territory you can ship to from Canada. UPS has a similar tool, called TradeAbility, which lets you estimate the costs of shipping from any country in the world to another, find harmonized tariff codes, and detect export licenses. Working with a certified customs broker can also make the customs clearance process go more smoothly when you ship your products outside North America.
Choose between air freight and ocean freight
When shipping outside North America, you’ll have to use air freight or ocean freight to move your goods. Both have advantages and disadvantages which you should consider carefully before choosing one or the other.
Shipping by air is faster than by sea
Depending on the size of your shipment, air delivery could take between 3-9 days from Canada or the US to Europe. Sending shipments by air to China from North America takes between 6-13 days. Sea freight, on the other hand, takes much longer. Shipping by sea can take up to 30 days from North America to Europe and 45 days or more to Asia.
Shipping by sea is cheaper than by air
Air delivery may be faster but it’s more expensive. Prices vary depending on the shipping service you choose and how much you’re sending.
You’ll have to decide which option is better for your business: air freight or ocean freight. Do you have the budget for the more expensive air shipping option or can you afford longer shipping times?
Allow longer delivery times
No matter which method of shipment you choose, your delivery times will always be longer when shipping outside North America. This may seem obvious, but many businesses forget to factor long delivery times into their export plan. How much longer can your customers realistically expect to wait?
Sending between the US and Canada may take anywhere from 1 business day to 2 weeks, depending on what you’re shipping and how much you pay. When shipping outside North America, your delivery times could range from 3 business days to six weeks or more. Your shipping service can give you a more accurate estimate and remember, the faster the delivery the higher the cost.
Avoid shipping scams
Scams happen all the time in international shipping and the less careful you are the more likely it is you’ll encounter one. When you’re expanding your business into shipping overseas, look out for the following:
- Fake freight companies
- Fraudulent returns of products by customers
- Shipping to fake international addresses
- Counterfeit customs fee notices
- Only providing a Bill of Lading (BOL) if you pay a fee
Get shipping insurance
Any time you import or export goods, you should have shipping insurance. When you ship outside North America, your shipment is en route longer and there are more chances of damage along the way. Shipping insurance will help you recover losses you incur if:
- There’s a fire or a storm
- Your goods happen to damage someone else’s goods
- Your goods get stolen before they arrive at their destination
- Your employees get injured while transporting your goods
You never know what could go wrong with your international shipments, so it’s always smart to get good shipping insurance. Read our guide on how to insure your imports and exports effectively to learn more.
Hire a customs broker to help you expand your business
Customs clearance can be one of the most complicated parts of the export process. It’s also where you’re most likely to make mistakes. A licensed customs broker like BorderBuddy can handle your customs declarations, ensure your paperwork is correct, and help you get the proper export license. If you want to expand your business to international shipping, contact us today to see what we can do for you.