How to avoid problems when sending parcels abroad

How to avoid problems when sending parcels abroad

When sending a parcel abroad, it’s only natural to have some concerns about the items you’re sending; will it arrive undamaged, in the same condition it was sent? Is it going to clear customs in the destination country? Will it be delayed and arrive late? Will it arrive at all?

The popularity of internet shopping, in particular online marketplaces such as eBay, Gumtree and the like, means people are sending more goods than ever, both domestically and internationally… so how can we make sure our precious parcels arrive as we intend them to?

Your parcel is important to us and we want it to reach its destination in the same condition you sent it. At ipostparcels, we employ the best people to ensure your parcel is well looked after, but your parcels are handled at many stages of the journey – particularly when being sent internationally.

It’s likely that your parcel will travel through our fully automated parcel sorter and will be measured by volume and weight across our network. For larger parcels, we operate a loose load and cage transfer operation to ensure your items are moved and delivered safely.

So with all this in mind, we recommend you read through this information carefully to ensure your parcels comply with regulations, whilst being packaged and labelled appropriately for optimum delivery success.

Check the address – and check it again!

This may sound obvious, but it's crucial to getting a delivery made successfully. Foreign addresses are often not written in the same format as British ones; with various codes, street numbers, states and provinces listed seemingly out of order. Not to mention the occasionally confusing spelling of local place names or districts.

However, the number one tip for avoiding problems when sending internationally is to ensure that you've got the address absolutely - letter for letter, number for number - correct. Double-check and query it if you’re in any doubt. Then make sure you write the address neatly and clearly. Is it legible?

Don't send restricted or prohibited items

Some items are subject to restriction, whether they are prohibited or require special certification for customs clearance. This covers antiques, alcohol, sharp objects, some electronic items and more. If you’re not sure whether your item(s) might be restricted, check with the customs department of the destination country. Each and every country we deliver to has its own page with information on restricted and prohibited items and ipostparcels also have our own list of prohibited and restricted items - note this is in addition to any country-specific rules, so please check those pages carefully before you send.

You'll also need to place a customs declaration on your parcel prior to sending items overseas, which details the contents and value. When you send with ipostparcels, our online booking system will tell you what forms you need to include with your parcel, make sure you fill them in correctly, clearly and with as much detail as possible. This helps the Customs agents in the destination country process the parcel quickly.

If there are any prohibited items in your package, we won’t be able to deliver it.  

Pack it up properly

Although we will do our very best to take good care of your consignment, it's likely that it will get bumped about a little on the journey. The use of automated parcel sorting machinery makes it vital for you to prepare your parcel as best you can for transit.

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 the box or envelope; either pad it out with packaging materials like those mentioned above and use a slightly larger outer box to contain the parcel(s). If you have an awkward or delicate item, take special care – we have a number of help and advice pages you can refer to.

Do not use black outer packaging when sending parcels abroad. Our automated parcel sortation systems can’t process parcels encased in black wrapping – using it for international deliveries will lead to your parcel being automatically returned.


Mark the outer packaging as 'fragile' as an extra precaution – but remember that automated sorting machines can’t read those instructions. It’s far better to rely on secure packaging.

Use a reliable courier service

Sending with ipostparcels means you’ve already got this one right! We offer shipping to most countries worldwide via express delivery and many via an economy service too – so you can select which option suits your timescales and budget. All our international deliveries come with free £50 cover (upgrade available for more valuable items) and with free online parcel tracking so you can see where your parcel is at anytime. Signed for delivery can be selected at the time of booking, so that your parcel will only be delivered once a signature is obtained from the recipient – we always recommend you use this option.

ipostparcels are highly rated  see our Trustpilot reviews here and offer superb value for money for sending parcels abroad.

Check the delivery timings

It's important that you know 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 our international pages. Even before booking your delivery with us, you can use our quick quote to enter the size and weight of the package and delivery destination to see what the postage costs and timings for delivery will be. This will help to ensure you don’t under-promise on arrival time or over-charge the postage cost; it could lead to a complaint or worse, the suspension of your eBay seller's account.

Return to sender

While nobody wants this to happen, it’s recommended that you make sure you include a return address so that, should the parcel simply not get through for any unforeseen reason, it can at least find its way back to you.

Related information:

How to complete a commercial invoice
How to complete an international invoice
International restricted and prohibited items
How to package parcels for international delivery
Understanding taxes and duties for international delivery

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ipostparcels have the cheapest next day delivery prices in the UK from 2 - 25kg. See price comparison prices here. * £1.99 (ex VAT) from price based on a next day XS parcel size with a UK depot drop off and UK depot collection service. Delivery to Northern Ireland, Ireland, The British Isles, The Highlands, Islands and parts of Scotland operate on a 1-3 day delivery service and incur additional costs. £7.74 (ex VAT) price based on a parcel weight of up to 25kg (50cm x 50cm x 50cm) on a UK depot drop off and economy delivery service to Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg or Austria. All prices quoted on content pages (outside of the quick quote and booking form) will be based on the depot drop off discounted price for UK deliveries and on a 0.5kg parcel with dimensions of 10cm x 10cm x 10cm for all international air countries. The size and weight of your parcel affects the price you will pay so it’s important to weigh and measure your parcel correctly to ensure your parcel arrives on time without any delays. Use our quick quote for all pricing options. If you do not select the "signature required" delivery option, UKMail will not be liable should your items be subsequently lost or damaged after the delivery (see clause 5.2.2 of the Terms & Conditions). We define a "Parcel" as a package with dimensions up to 80cm x 80cm x 80cm or up to 120cm x 50cm x 50cm or up to 140cm x 35cm x 35cm.

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