Understanding the eBay International Shipping Program

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Many new and established sellers may be intimidated by shipping internationally on eBay, but doing so is not much different than shipping domestically. There are just a few more rules to understand, and the package's journey takes a bit longer. eBay offers its own program to help with the process, but you are not obligated to use it.

Evaluate the eBay Global Shipping Program

The Global Shipping Program streamlines and standardizes international shipping. At first glance, this is a good idea, but international shipping has many variables and is nearly impossible to standardize across every country and every type of item shipped.

All packages going through the Global Shipping Program are shipped Priority International even if it weighs less than 4 pounds and could be shipped First Class International. This is because Priority International comes with tracking and insurance, and First Class International does not. All items also have customs fees added, even if they aren't necessary. These two issues can increase costs for buyers. And since the shipping price is inflated, some buyers in countries outside the United States won't buy items shipped GSP. It may be better to ship the item directly to the customer yourself. 

Make Sure the Item Is Allowed

There are strict rules outlining what items are allowed in specific countries. For example, Australia prohibits used bedding, like sheets and comforters. Peru prohibits used clothing. Italy has a whopping 130 prohibitions, including anything made from animal hair or leather, or anything made with gold, such as jewelry, collectibles, or accessories. Sellers are responsible for understanding what can and cannot be shipped to different countries. Countries often establish these regulations to limit foreign competition for domestic manufacturers.

Another reason for strict prohibitions is that the country is trying to prevent diseases from entering. Perishable foods, plants, or anything living is not allowed in many countries because they may contain parasites or may be biohazards in some way. Dangerous and hazardous items—including firearms, explosives, and radioactive items—typically are not allowed.

Always check the USPS website that outlines the complete list of countries and prohibited items for each. Make sure to do your due diligence to verify the item you are selling is allowed in the countries you choose.

Understand Insurance Options

If you are shipping through eBay's Global Shipping Program, all items are shipped USPS Priority Mail with insurance. If shipping direct, or not using the Global Shipping Program, you can self-insure through one of many third-party companies that offer that service. Most insurance costs about $1 per every $50 of the item's value. For example, if you sold a Lladro collectible ceramic statue for $200, the insurance would cost about $4. 

Third-party insurance does not offer tracking. It simply is a safety net in case the item is lost or damaged in transit. Companies that offer international shipping insurance include:

Third-party insurance is affordable and a wise decision when shipping direct. It can be paid for with PayPal, and filing a claim is fast and easy.