If you’ve ever shipped anything internationally, you’ve likely encountered surprise costs. Both recipients and senders of international parcels can face unexpected, costly fees. Although you’d rather not have to pay extra fees at all, it lessens the blow a little if you know you have to pay more upfront.
Courier fees, postal service surcharges, and customs fees can all add up. This can make your package much more expensive than you planned. What hidden costs should you expect when you ship items across borders?
Couriers may charge you extra for services related to shipping. For instance, some pickup or delivery locations may charge you extra based on their location. If the pickup location is “remote” or far from the courier’s usual delivery address, the courier could charge you extra. If you live in a rural area, you may have to travel far to a pickup location to avoid these kinds of fees.
Fees for failed delivery
If you make a mistake with your shipment, such as putting in the wrong address, couriers can charge you extra. They have more hassle to find the right address or get packages delivered, so you have to pay a fee.
Unusually sized parcels
When you ship an item that doesn’t fit the courier’s standard size and weight dimensions, they will charge you more for it. Couriers also charge extra for oversized or heavy items. If your package is larger than 2 meters and weighs over 80 kilograms, expect to pay more.
Sending something in a wood or metal container? Is your item cylindrical rather than rectangular? You will probably pay higher shipping fees for these kinds of items. They can be heavy and cumbersome and this can affect how much you’re charged.
Choice of courier
The service you choose to deliver your international package will affect the fees you pay. Your choice usually comes down to express couriers and postal couriers. Express couriers charge more, but their deliveries are speedier and the service is more reliable. However, with an express courier, you’re more likely to encounter extra fees. Their pricing models are more complex than postal couriers.
Sending dangerous or restricted goods
If you ship items considered dangerous or restricted, such as liquids, alcohol, lithium batteries, pharmaceuticals, or tobacco, expect more scrutiny on your parcels. These kinds of items will require more inspections, particularly when they pass through customs. If your courier has to put up with more hassle to deliver your shipment, it’s likely you’ll pay more fees.
International parcels go through customs, which means they incur extra taxes and duties. DDU stands for “Delivery Duty Unpaid.” If you receive an international parcel and the sender did not pay taxes and duties on it, you have to pay them. There’s nothing worse than accepting a package at your door only to find out you owe $40 in delivery duties. If you’re expecting a package from abroad, be prepared to pay a high duty fee, just in case these are not baked into the price. Or better yet, ask your sender directly if they paid the duties already.
DDP is the opposite of DDU, it stands for “Delivery Duty Paid” and the sender is responsible for paying international duties on the parcel. As a sender, you may have to pay a DDP handling fee and disbursement fee, which the courier uses to pay the tax and duty on your behalf when it arrives in the destination country.
Customs declaration mistakes
When you send a package abroad, you must fill out a customs declaration. If you underestimate the market value of the goods you’re sending, you could run into problems with border agencies. Ultimately, it could lead to them hanging on to your goods and charging warehouse fees, or you could face a penalty. Filling out your customs declaration form is extremely important, especially if the package you’re sending is of high value.
Avoiding hidden fees
The best way to avoid these surprise fees is by understanding your courier’s rules and following them as closely as possible. Also, if you purchase something from an online retailer in another country, communicate with the seller to ensure you know which fees apply to you.
To avoid any issues clearing customs, minimize mistakes with your imports and exports. Double-check that you’ve declared the items correctly and paid all applicable duties. Pay extra attention to customs forms if you import agricultural or restricted goods. These products will often receive more scrutiny and that can add to more potential fees or customs issues.
The best way to ensure customs compliance and avoid hidden fees is by working with a customs broker. At Border Buddy, we work extensively with you to ensure your imports and exports are compliant. We’ll help you calculate appropriate duties so you can stay on budget. Contact us today with your questions about international shipping.