Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Ship International From Home (in the U.S.)


I often see Etsy sellers confused about how to ship internationally, especially from home (NOTE: the package must weigh under 13 oz to mail it from home), so often I see: a) they don't offer it at all, or b) they say in the item description to "contact them for a quote". I would guess that 1/5- 1/4 of my sales are international -- so to not offer it at all you are really losing out on a big corner of the market, and to only offer it by contacting you first rules out a lot of impulse buys.

Here I will attempt to demystify international shipping from home for you all in a few simple steps (it's really easier than it looks):


1. Go buy a postal or a food scale. You can buy a 10 lb postal scale from the USPS for $39.95, or you can use a food scale which vary in price. You want to make sure that the scale you buy will be able to weigh your items (e.g., don't get a 10 lb postal scale if your items weigh more than 10 lbs).

2. Go to the post office and stock up on stamps of all denominations. I usually get 20 $1 stamps, and 10 of the following: 1 cent, 3 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 28 cent, and 44 cent.

3. Go buy whatever mailing supplies you will need: envelopes, boxes, bubble wrap, mailing tape, paper and ink for your printer, etc.

4. Go download the USPS Shipping Assistant. You can do this here. Click on "Go" where it says "Download Now". Follow all instructions to install.


1. Weigh your item on your scale. Make sure this includes all packaging materials. And always round up to the nearest ounce if you're using a non-digital scale.

2. Open up the Shipping Assistant. You should see an icon for it on your desktop -- double-click it and it will open; it might take a couple minutes.

3. Under "Label Type", select "International Shipping Label".

4. Fill out all information marked with a red asterisk.

5. Check off the box in the lower right-hand corner marked "Mailing Conditions, Customs Information, and Insurance Conditions".

6. Make sure your printer is on and connected to your computer, and click "Print".

7. Cut out the slip that is printed out and affix to your envelope/box.

8. IMPORTANT!!!: Affix the amount of postage indicated by the slip.

9. As long as the package weighs under 13 oz, you can just put it out with your regular mail to be picked up by your postman! If it weighs over 13 oz you must bring it to the post office.

***If you want to print out a packing slip, you can either do this from Paypal or from Etsy.

Any questions? Leave me a comment and I'll write one back! Either that or contact me directly through my Etsy shop!

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