International shipping on Etsy: why it shouldn't scare you

Etsy Tips2

There is a lot of reasons why Etsy sellers don't ship internationally. Some sellers think that no one would pay this much to get their products, especially if item itself costs less than shipping. Others know that international shipping requires customs declaration and additional paperwork. Finally, nobody wants to deal with unhappy customers who might be upset about shipping time, customs fees, total shipping price, etc.

 International shipping on Etsy: why it shouldn't scare you

All this seems reasonable but think of how many customers you miss if you don't offer international shipping. To get real numbers just go to your Etsy stats, pick a time range for a year or more and switch to map tab to see all the traffic to your shop. I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of views from out of your country. Those could have been your happy customers! And in fact shipping internationally isn't much different from domestic shipping at all. So why wouldn't try it?

If you decide to offer international shipping you can start with a little. You can add just a few countries you've got most traffic from to understand how international shipping works and afterwards add either some other countries or ship everywhere else. So when you decided where you want to ship your products to it's time to determine correct shipping cost.

One way to do that is open USPS calculator and check their prices for your regular shipping sizes and weight for international shippings. Another way is use Price your postage tool from Etsy. It lets you look up shipping costs for any weight and size of package. It also helps you compare Etsy's discounted rates to the USPS retail rates.

But there is even easier way to calculate shipping cost for international shipping (well, actually to calculate any shipping cost, including international). When you add a new item to your shop and get to the point where you should choose your shipping options pick "Enter custom shipping options" and for "Shipping cost" choose "Calculate them for me (Recommended)". Then fill up ZIP Code field, choose your processing time for this product, choose where you want to ship (don't forget to choose other countries you want to ship to) and add a handling fee, which is optional, but you might want to add here the amount of $ you use for packaging. Now for this setting to work you also need to enter the weight of the final package in your listing, not just the weight of your product, and add a size of a package. After you entered all the info needed you will see a shipping cost preview. That's it! This is very convenient tool. You don't have to think of all the countries and shipping cost to each of them. It will calculate the shipping price automatically based on buyers and your location. 

If you don't want to add all this information each time for every new listing - you can create a shipping profile with "Calculate them for me" option as well. Just go to "Your shop > Listings > Shipping settings". There you'll find a link to "Add a shipping profile" with all the same fields as described above for Calculated shipping. And now when you add or edit a product you just simply select the most appropriate shipping profile and you don't need to enter all the info each time. You can add a few different profiles for different processing time which is very useful if you have ready to ship and made to order items at the same shop. You can also add a package preferences on that same page of "Shipping settings" that you can use afterwards for your shipping labels if you're printing them with Etsy.

Now, if you are US based seller you can use Etsy shipping labels for any shipping and especially for international shipping. Why? Well, first of all, with Etsy shipping labels you get discounted prices for shipping, which is nice by itself. And second of all, with Etsy shipping labels for international shipping you can print out the custom declaration right away when you print your shipping label and you don't need to worry about it. It also can pre-fill custom declaration for you with your item title and price and even put your electronic signature on a declaration so you don't have to worry about signing the paper (to apply this settings go to "Your shop > Orders > Shipping labels > Options").

That is actually all you need to know to start shipping internationally. Here is a couple of useful tips for those who decided to start using international shipping:

  • Fill in your location on your profile page. This helps people find you and gives the buyer an indication of how long their purchase might take to arrive at their doorstep. Of course they will see more accurate dates during checkout but this will help to get an idea of shipping time frame while browsing your shop.

  • List sizes and weights in US/Imperial and metric measurements in description or variations.

  • Have clear policies on international shipping in your "Shop policies" section. This helps to give your buyers a confidence that their package will be delivered. You should also make sure you clearly stated buyer's responsibility for the customs duties in your shop policies.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask! If you are unsure of anything, like an address or zip code, send customer a convo to clarify this.

Also here is a link to Individual mailing standards for different countries that might come in handy when you start shipping internationally as some countries have very specific standards of what is prohibited and restricted to send to them by mail.

That's it! Now if you set your shipping profiles as described above when international customers buy your product they will be charged the exact cost of shipping based on size and weight of package + your handling fee and you don't have to worry of anything. Just print out your shipping label and attached custom declaration, pack and ship as you normally do! 

We really hope this article will encourage those of you who don't sell internationally yet to open your shop for customers from all over the world!


    • Howard Jackson commented Feb. 2, 2017 reply

      One of the lamps I ship is at the maximum girth + height of 108 inches for USPS in the states. Are etsy calculated shipping labels capable of discerning if such a package meets another countries max dimensions?