International Freight Shipping: How to Ship Freight Overseas

No matter your industry, international freight shipping is one of the most powerful means of expanding and boosting your business. Along with the rapid development of global marketplaces and digital shopping, shipping to Canada has become more and more profitable for the national economy. Complicated, at first sight, international freight shipping is all about advanced planning and learning the necessary information. 

What is international freight shipping?

If you are a small business or an individual willing to grow, you have thought about shipping goods internationally. The process of international freight shipping may seem challenging. Appropriately organized can boost your trade turnover and expand your customer audience. What is international freight shipping?

International shipping involves the border crossing of your cargo by various transport means – ocean, air, or ground freight transportation. Global logistics may initially seem complicated, but it can help you grow your sales and gain customers’ trust worldwide. Accessing the international market for your products is a big step in developing your business, so do not hesitate to learn more about it.

How to ship freight overseas?

When planning to ship internationally, it is critical to develop a transportation strategy and follow it without skipping any steps. International freight shipping requires thorough preparation. On balance, moving goods to other countries, especially Canada, is so common nowadays that it can appear to be a pleasant and profitable experience even for newcomers.

Collect the data

The first thing to consider while getting ready for international shipping is gathering information on the goods you will move. Analyze what items are most wanted by international buyers and remain popular for more extended periods. It will prompt you on what you are more likely to sell abroad with a better income. If you are only starting to ship internationally and would like to avoid possible risks, consider shipping smaller items of moderate size. 

Also, moving your products for shorter distances at the beginning is safe and wise to test the market and see whether you are ready to expand the trade area. The more familiarized you with the market, the easier the demand forecasting gets.

Check international shipping regulations

Preliminary gathering of data also includes the questions of the import and export regulations and restrictions. Dealing with territorial laws usually engages the customs broker services, but it is better to learn some basics before hiring a specialist. Thus you will find out if your goods can cross the border. You can quickly check it using the official International Trade Administration site. 

Consider customs broker

Once you’ve verified your items can be shipped abroad, it is time to look for a reliable customs broker who will be in charge of all the customs documentation and will help you to agree on the terms of sale with the customer. Additionally, you and your customs broker will look into the specifics of duties and taxes of your target destination. After collecting all the necessary information, you will get acquainted with different state documents like commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, etc.

Fill out the paperwork

When the customs documents are determined, you will fill them out and provide the details of the sender’s and receiver’s facilities: their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. It is also critical to precisely describe the items’ measurements, quantity, and value. Once settled, you can pack your things and launch the shipping process.

Types of international freight shipping

Choosing the type of international freight shipping is essential as it identifies your further action plan. Depending on the way you want to ship your goods, there are several main types of international shipping:

  1. Air freight transportation is a good option for delivering a high-density cargo yet being limited in size so it can be easily located inside the plane. This transportation type is quite beneficial as it allows to deliver goods in a short time and thus improves the overall productivity of the supply chain. Still, air freight transportation is higher in price and might be more complicated to arrange. 
  2. Ocean freight transportation is probably the most effective way to move large amounts of cargo or oversized items as the shipping is done in big containers loaded onto ocean freighters. However, ocean freight transportation can take much time, so it is better to keep the delivery deadlines in mind. 
  3. Ground freight transportation seems to be the most manageable in the organization as it involves well-known logistics operations and is more accessible and cost-efficient. It works well, especially for international shipments of moderate distances that don’t take too long to deliver. Ground freight transportation also includes moving goods by rail, which is quite applicable for supplying heavyweight items of a large size.

Shipping modes for international delivery

In terms of road freight transportation, there are two prevalent shipping modes.

  1. Full truckload shipping mode works for moving oversized and heavy items or large volumes of goods. If you have enough goods to fill in the entire trailer space and the weight of your cargo is up to 50,000 lbs, a full truckload is a solution. Also, this shipping mode aims to deliver the items on time with no extra stops during transportation. 
  2. Less than truckload shipping mode is a good choice for small businesses and individual shippers whose cargo is not too big, so there is no need to book the whole trailer’s space. Instead, in terms of LTL shipping mode, multiple shippers share the truck, which prevents them from any extra expenses.

What is a customs broker?

Due to its large scale, international freight transportation undergoes numerous regulations that change depending on a specific area. At the beginning of your international shipping experience, getting the necessary guidance and organizing the transit operations in a way that won’t break any official requirements is crucial. 

To do all the above, you can address customs brokers. Customs brokers are experts who manage the whole customs clearance process. These experts are individuals, companies, or entities accredited by the US Customs and Border Protection organization. 

The main task of customs brokerage is aligning the shipment with all the international regulations and preventing any risks that may occur when shipping overseas. Customs brokers function as the agents between you and your customer, thus allowing you to focus better on transportation sequence. Meanwhile, they delve into importing and exporting rules and lead official documentation.

How to choose a customs broker?

Hiring a customs broker is not compulsory if you are ready to learn international rules and manage the paperwork on your own. However, to avoid any data entry mistakes or regulative contradictions, it is preferable to apply for professional customs clearance services. 

The choice of a customs broker mainly depends on the scale of your transit. Suppose you are planning a moderate international shipment or looking for a starting point for moving goods overseas. In that case, you may accept an offer to use a customs broker recommended by the chosen freight shipping company. On the other hand, large shipments are usually supervised by companies like UPS or FedEx, which provide their own customs brokers. 

Along with growing import and export volumes, the role of the customs brokers in international shipping has extended. They offer a wide range of services like business analytics, exploring new trade markets, developing product lines, etc. Also, customs brokers gradually digitalize their operations to streamline the communication with the customers and shippers.

International shipping rates

The cost of international freight shipping depends on a variety of factors. Some of them are common for both in-state and international freight transportation. The others are significant to count when planning the international delivery. 

Distance and deadlines

To work out the approximate rates of international freight shipping, you primarily have to calculate the distance your cargo is supposed to cover. Shipping to remote areas may appear costly, but the final pricing depends on the expected delivery time. Even shipping to distant international destinations can be cost-effective if you don’t rely on strict deadlines. 

On the other hand, time-sensible shipments need thorough planning and thinking of all the peculiarities that may affect the duration. For example, crossing the border usually involves checking the transported cargo for safety purposes, which can take some time according to the volume of your freight. 

Cargo measurements

No less important is the size and weight of the cargo. Most transportation types and modes are conditional on the volume of the items shipped. Thus, getting all the required measurements is necessary before making any decisions on the transport means. Having all this data in mind, you’ll be able to see what type of international shipping suits you the best – ocean, air, or ground freight transportation. For instance, shipping oversized items by the ocean is convenient, while air freight transportation perfectly meets strict deadlines. You can successfully ship regular cargo to Canada through ground freight transportation. 

Customs paperwork

In arranging your international shipping, you’ll have to pay close attention to gathering all the necessary customs documentation. The shippers commonly address the customs brokers who can help organize the transit according to all the international regulations and restrictions. Customs broker services modify the shipment pricing, but you will only benefit from leading your documentation correctly and thus avoiding any fines or shipping interdictions.

Seasonality

After reviewing all the primary criteria, it is worth considering the question of seasonality. It can influence the cost of international freight shipping because of the particular periods, which are pretty specific in terms of transportation. First, it refers to shipping during the peak season, when the transit channels are overloaded and delivery time frames get more strict than usual. If you’re going to move your freight in preparation for big holidays, count traffic issues or possible delays. Still, proper planning can solve the frequent problems and prevent you from additional charges. 

Packaging

In addition, try to evaluate various options for packing your goods. Following a reliable packaging method remains a severe aspect of international freight shipping as your items are supposed to travel longer than transportation within the US. The choice of packaging materials depends on the type of transported goods, and the price for packages will vary accordingly. Modern international logistics suggest saving on the packaging using sustainable materials and applying eco-friendly matters. Besides being biodegradable and safe for the environment, they are often cheaper than regular plastic packages. 

Extra shipping services

Due to its high complexity, international shipping processes often require additional services. For example, you may need lumper assistance when loading and unloading your cargo since these operations differ depending on the type of transport. Also, obtaining information about warehousing spaces that might locate your goods in particular cases like transhipping is beneficial. 

Moreover, learning about various tracking options your customers may require is crucial. Applying tracking systems is one of the most profitable investments for shipping companies because it significantly enhances the customers’ experience and enables them to control the movement of the items.

International shipping companies

In organizing international freight shipping, it is crucial to examine the options of global shipping companies. Evaluating big transportation providers will be handy if you prepare to ship to Canada. Currently, the most popular of them are:

  • USPS works well in those cases when you are not limited to strict delivery deadlines, and your customer can wait a few extra days to receive the products. At the same time, they are being sorted out at Canada Post and sent to the final destination. Due to all these procedures, USPS services are usually of moderate prices. 
  • UPS is one of the best choices for fast delivery to Canada as this transportation service bypasses the transfer through Canada Post, thus saving much time. In addition, UPS provides the possibility of tracking the items’ movement on their way from point A to point B.
  • FedEx shipping service aims to avoid delays so that it can deliver your goods even faster than other international shipping companies. The operational processes of this organization differ in their increased efficiency, primarily due to shipment tracking availability. However, it can result in higher costs and additional expenses if your product exceeds the company’s weight limits.
  • DHL international shipping mostly suits ocean and air freight delivery. If you plan to transport cargo using these types of international shipping, you can consider DHL a cost-effective and reliable company.

Shipping to Canada 

Canada is the world’s second-largest country and an important trade destination for many U.S. shippers. Since the United States and Canada are each other’s largest trading partners, small businesses often think of enhancing their shipping flow. Crossing the Canadian border is a perfect start for entering the global market. 

It is worth evaluating certain aspects of international North American delivery to run a smooth shipment to or from Canada. First, learn what documents you need to ship through Canada. The essential documents for Canadian and U.S. shippers cover a commercial invoice and a bill of lading. There may be other required documents depending on the type of commodity used.

Second, pay attention to the range of prohibited items. Canada has a list of products restricted from import and export, and some need special permits for commercial transportation. Please note that GoShip doesn’t provide shipping of any personal effects to Canada.  

Third, evaluate the transit time for shipments to Canada. The transit time may vary depending on the destination address and shipment type. The final shipping date is arranged with your carrier. Yet, you cannot expect an unchangeable shipping date due to weather conditions.

How much does shipping to Canada cost?

The cost of your shipment will depend on many factors like type, weight, dimensions, lane, etc. Generally, the average prices for shipping to Canada consist of several components. For example, shipping particular products to Canada may be more expensive than the regular domestic shipping dues to the import taxes

Like any country, Canada has custom taxes for imported goods. All taxes rely on the shipment’s type, declared value, and commodity type. Everything that exceeds CAD 20$ in value is subject to a 5% duty. For some states, the responsibilities may differ, and you can check them out by looking into Canada Custom Tariff lists.

Furthermore, it is crucial to find out what are freight liability policies in Canada as they can also modify the shipment pricing. The carrier’s freight liability is limited by Canadian law regulations to CAD 2$ per pound unless there is no alternative agreement between the carrier and the shipper. Take these restrictions into consideration when calculating risks. If your shipment’s declared value exceeds the limit, it is reasonable to consider getting freight insurance. 

Finally, do not forget that all payments for shipments to/from Canada are held in USD. All the shippers will need a billable U.S. address to process the payment. 

How to ship freight to Canada? 

After getting familiar with all the frequent questions, it is easier to plan your shipment to Canada step by step. 

  • Describe your shipment, including accurate information about dimensions, weight, and freight type, and declare what exactly you are shipping.
  • Get your free estimate at GoShip and choose from the list of available carriers.
  • Fill in all of the required information about your shipment.
  • Process the required documentation with our licensed customs broker (if you don’t have one).
  • You’re all set! Stay tuned and track your shipment through GoShip.

Shipping to the US islands

Some US states are located outside the continent. Usually, the goods reach them by ocean freight transportation. Since the US islands are considered export territories, it causes the shippers to move their cargo according to the international transportation rules. For instance, shipping to Puerto Rico will require you to fill out the standard bill of lading, a commercial invoice, and an Electronic Export Information form if the declared value of your cargo is more than $2 500. To ship goods to Puerto Rico, you need to move them to the port of Fort Lauderdale, where the ocean transport will pick them up.

When delivering goods to Hawaii, they first travel to the port of California. Interestingly, Hawaii shipments do not typically require documentation besides a lading bill. However, if you are going to move some hazardous materials, it is compulsory to prepare additional documentation. 

International freight shipping with GoShip

If you consider expanding to Canada, think about a seamless shipping platform. GoShip offers a wide range of shipping services across the northern border. Regardless of your shipment’s size, we will effectively move your goods to and from Canada. With advanced technology and resources, GoShip makes shipping to Canada smooth and easy. Visit our website and get a free quote today!




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