Do’s & Don’ts of International Shipping

When you’re mailing a package, there are many different services available to you, and tons of rules you need to follow depending on the countries involved. If it’s your first time shipping to a different country, it could be a little overwhelming but it doesn’t totally have to be!


DO: Check shipping restrictions.
DON’T: Mail items that are illegal in your country, or the country you are shipping to.

Shipping restrictions just mean that you are to follow custom laws and what each country deems appropriate. Prohibited items are all country specific, but a quick google search will help you determine what is allowed by each country.

So the first thing to do once you know your destination country, is look up the restrictions for both your country, and for the country you are mailing to.

Then go to your preferred search engine, and type something along the lines of “shipping restrictions to (destination country)“. Many countries have webpages dedicated to this sort of information, and it can also be found on their federal postal services website.

Since I live in the United States, I always go to the United States Postal Service website. As well as the information for domestic use in the States, they also list restrictions for mailing to other countries.


DO: Fill out the custom forms.
DON’T: Forget to declare everything.

The forms you use will vary depending on the service you use. The form itself is usually easy to follow and fill out. Declaring everything honestly will prevent packages from being delayed/seized and/or the recipient having to pay custom fees for gifts.


DO: Research the cost of your package from different services.
DON’T: Go to the first service you think of.

There are multiple services that you can use to mail a package. Your county’s federal postal service and private services such as UPS, or FedEx. Many of these have calculators that can help you figure out pricing online, save you some money and lots of time from not having to go to their brick and motor locations!


DO: Find out how the address should be written for your destination.
DON’T: Assume it is written the same way you write yours.

You will know where your package is going by getting the address from the person you are mailing to. Make sure the address is written clearly and correctly on the box. The country you are mailing to may have a different addressing system. So make sure you clarify with your s/o or whoever, that you’ve written it correctly!


DO: Make sure your items are safe and secure.
DON’T: Skimp on shipping materials and boxes.

When shipping internationally, whatever you send is going to go on a myriad of vehicles! Trucks, planes, ships, more trucks, it will stop at shipping warehouses, it’s going to get beat up a little bit!

That can be really hard on a package, and can damage its exterior as well as what is inside. Boxes get kicked, dropped and thrown around on their way. So make sure the box is sturdy, and that you’ve wrapped valuables and things inside so that the impact won’t be as rough as they travel. Also make sure that your box isn’t overstuffed, and that the package is taped up nice and tight!


DO: Get a tracking number.
DON’T: Forget!

Depending on the service you get, a tracking number may or may not be included in the final price. If it’s not it can be added for an additional charge. This one is so important to me. Every time I mail something to my partner, I constantly watch where it is (I even get the text message notifications)! The most recent time I mailed something, I did it differently and assumed that I would get tracking number when I didn’t. It drove me nuts! This Do and Don’t is just for peace of mind. It is totally up to you, but I highly recommend it!

About Jaymiee

Jaymiee is a writer for Long Distance Diaries. She is a graduate with her BS in Marketing, and has been in a very long distance relationship for over six years.