I was on a forum site last week and this question kept coming up in groups I belong to... Others asked about shipping items overseas... and their concerns about it.
I will write here, basically what I told them there.
Do NOT Be Afraid to Ship Internationally.
I use USPS for all my shipping since my Post Office is close to my home. And it is just easier for me. The UPS office is about 14 miles from my home and it is hard to find a location near me or if it is near me-- it is out of my way to get to it. I am fine with the PO.
I routinely ship over seas. I am a long time eBay seller along with Etsy and so far, so good. I don't ship to Africa, because of the problems you hear with scams and there is no good mailing system there.
You do have to be careful and read about what is allowed to be shipped to each country. http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_toc.htm You can look up each country and see if you can even ship your item there. Like in Italy- You can't ship anything with artificial flowers on it.
I would say with any of these selling sites you are on... IF your item is not able to be shipped to a certain country- then do not list it as a country that you ship to! For my vintage site.. I often don't ship Glass items overseas, due to worry about breakage. It is my choice. I know with Etsy and eBay-- each ad is it's own entity. I can choose which countries to ship to with each ad.
Items under 4# are sent 1st class International and the price is not all that bad. Over that amount-- then it is Priority mail. I find that if a customer wants your item enough- they will pay the shipping to get it. One thing to consider-- while the prices might look high to us here-- we don't really know that they are not higher for the person in their own country. Some items like Jewelry have to be sent Insured Priority in Australia... Okay- so do it.
On the custom form- you have to put what the item is, how much it weighs, the cost of it and your name and address.. sometimes your phone number then date and sign it. Your customer's name and address is also there and sometimes their phone number.
You have your receipt that you shipped the item and the number on the custom form as your proof of mailing- you can also pay to have a "proof of mailing" certificate stamped by the PO-- it is around $1.00. Items get lost in the mail. With your proof it was sent.. don't worry so much. Talk to your customer and see what they want to do. Call the PO and see what your options are whether you insured it or not. It will be okay! ( I do have to tell you that the only time in all my years of selling and shipping-- the only item that was ever "lost" was a book in the USA!.. I had delivery confirmation on it and my customer was very nice- and it ended well).
I use PayPal and Ship-n-Click and it all works great. I have a postal scale that I bought on eBay and I print my own labels here on my printer and put it in my mailbox or bring it to the PO when I am out and about. Easy. The payment for the shipping is taken from my PayPal account.
If sending Priority mail through the PO-- you can order the boxes for free and they are delivered to your home. They also have stickers and tape and labels. Many items for free. You can purchase Postal Scales from them-- but I have found looking around locally are usually less pricey at the wholesale clubs and big box stores.
You can go to www.USPS.com and pre-figure out the postage for all the countries that you want to ship to. I have not had a problem with weights or the accuracy of the fees charged. It will also give you an estimated time of mailing. With some of these countries-- it can take 2-3 wks or more!
I would certainly make sure to have a note on your policies page that the customers pay all custom duty fees and tariff fees.. just so no one thinks you are paying them. With eBay-- they suggest strongly that you add something to your policies along this line.. with Etsy I added it.
And I would also be aware that it is Illegal in the USA to mark an item as a Gift when it is a purchase. When you mark it as a gift- the recipient does not have to pay the duty on it. Make sure to mark items as Merchandise. By signing the custom form- it is basically a legal contract you signed. There is no point to not do it correctly. I would not want a custom or postal inspector knocking on my door.
As I said before.. even with all these rules... I get lots of International sales and some customers that come back for more.. so, it can't be all that bad for them. I do think that it increases your market to offer International Shipping. Do your homework.. make sure your items can be shipped to all countries that you offer to ship to. Use the PO as a resource.. they are very helpful.
And please leave your comments here, especially if you have been concerned about International Shipping.. I'd love to hear what you have to say....