How to Avoid Problems When Sending Parcels Abroad
When sending goods abroad, most people are naturally a little bit anxious that their parcel will reach its intended recipient unblemished, in one piece or even at all. Plus, in this day and age of internet shopping, we're probably sending more goods across borders than ever - especially given the unrelenting success of eBay. How can you avoid problems when sending your parcel abroad?
Here are a few top tips..
Check the address
This may sound like an obvious point, but it's a crucial one. Foreign addresses are usually not written in a format that's familiar to us Brits; with codes, districts, departments and provinces listed seemingly out of order. That's not to mention the confusing spelling of some local place names. However, the number one tip for avoiding postage problems is to ensure that you've got the address absolutely - letter for letter, number for number - correct. Double check and write legibly. Ideally, print the address out and stick it to the package with clear tape over the top to prevent the ink from smudging.
Some items are subject to restriction, whether they are prohibited or require special certification. This covers antiques, alcohol, sharp objects and some electronic items. If you are not sure whether your item might be restricted, get some advice (especially if it's being opened up to international buyers on eBay).
You'll need to place a customs declaration on your parcel prior to sending which details the contents and your courier firm will know whether or not any special rule applies - hence you could find that they won't post your parcel at all, so check in advance.
Wrap up well
Although your chosen courier service will do its best to take good care of your parcel, it's likely that it will get bumped about a little on the journey. Make sure you wrap the item up well, using sufficient tissue, newspaper and/or bubble wrap. Ideally, the item shouldn't have space to move about in a box or envelope; either pad it out or use a smaller one. If you have an awkward or delicate item, ask your courier service for some guidance. Remember to mark the packaging as 'fragile' as an extra precaution.
Use the right delivery service
Air mail, over-land, signed for, tracked - there will be lots of options open to you depending on time-scale and budget. Make sure you understand what each one entails in order to make an informed decision. It's probably a good idea to choose a service that you can track, that way you can keep the recipient updated. Plus, should there be any issues, the parcel and its journey can be traced. More comprehensive services may also offer insurance, to cover for the unthinkable. Additionally, you should be able to access its list of compensation applicable for damage or loss.
There might be several different parcel delivery companies out there, but all are not made equal. Make sure you use one that is highly rated and uses trusted, reliable partners in the receiving countries. It's worth doing some research into other delivery firms, rather than leaving it just to the obvious choice.
Check the delivery timings
It's important that you know precisely how long international postage might take, particularly if you need to specify it (and claim postage) on an eBay listing. This information is easy to find on an international courier service's website. Typically, you can enter the size and weight of the package for a quote, giving postage costs and timings. Ensure you get these details correct, there's nothing worse that under-promising on arrival time or over-charging the cost; it could lead to a complaint or worse, the suspension of your eBay seller's account.
Return to sender
If all else fails, make sure that you include a return address so that should the parcel simply not get through for an unforeseen reason, it can at least find its way back to you.