Tips and Tools for Your International Shipping Business

Tips and Tools for Your International Shipping Business


FedEx Authorized ShipCenter® (FASC) program participants share that shipping internationally can be a lucrative part of their business. If you're interested in becoming more active in this area, the information below will help you navigate the international shipping process.

You'll get tips on marketing your services, providing customers helpful add-on features for their shipments and completing customs documentation. Locate the topic you’re interested in below and click the drop-down menu. You may want to bookmark this article for future reference.

International Shipping Roadmap

These tips can give you some ideas on how to solicit customers for your international business:

  • Micro- and small businesses. You can research businesses in your area by contacting your local chamber of commerce and secretary of state’s offices, getting lists from direct mail services, conducting online searches, scanning recent archives of the local media, asking your librarian for business directories and paying attention to social media sites.
  • Auction houses. Find a list of auction houses in your area and reach out to them via cold calling, emails or mailing brochures directly to them.
  • International students. Universities may allow you to post flyers in community buildings on campus. Ask whether you can be included on their approved vendor list and permitted to offer your services by posting in dormitories and other nonpublic areas.
  • Vacationers. Connect with boutiques and antique shops in your area. Some business owners may be thrilled to create a business relationship with your store so you can advertise each other’s services.

Use complimentary materials from the FASC Marketing Toolbox to advertise your store’s location and decorate the store to let customers know as soon as they walk through the door they’re in the right place.

Ensure your store’s information is accurate and up to date on Yelp and other social sites. Encourage your customers to give reviews on your website or their social media platforms.

For details of shipping services that deliver within 1 to 3 business days and within 5 business days, go to the International Package Shipping page of the FedEx Service Guide. The page also includes a list of the countries and territories FedEx serves and resources for international shipping.

Get last-minute savings on international shipments by using the FedEx® Great Rates Hotline. Call 1.877.463.7408 Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Central, or fill out the contact form to get the best available daily discount rate for your international shipments. Before placing the call, know your FedEx account number, the origin and destination countries for the shipment, and its weight and dimensions.

Some of your customers may be shipping items to countries that are subject to additional regulations and requirements. You can direct them to the news and alerts page on fedex.com to find the latest information for a specific country.

Packing items for international shipping is the same as for shipping within the U.S., but to keep costs down it’s important to pay attention to dimensional weight. Engineers at the FedEx Packaging Lab can provide tips on how to pack for economical shipping. You can also consult with them when creating boxes for heavy, fragile or unusually shaped items. This service is available to you and your customers at no cost. To set up a consultation, contact the lab by filling out a form on the website.

You can also get tips through our packing guides and the Packaging Help Hub.

It’s important the shipping documents are fully and correctly completed to minimize potential delays at customs. You or your customers can generate the documents in any of these ways:

  • Input the shipment information in FedEx International Shipping Assist, a tool that walks shippers through the shipment preparation process by providing a commodity code classification engine for HS code searches, estimates of duties and taxes, and access to FedEx international shipping professionals on our International Documentation Preparation team.
  • Call 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339 and say “international services.”
  • Generate the forms on your point-of-sale system if you’re using ShipRite or Postal Mate.
  • Go to the FedEx Document Preparation Center on FedEx® Global Trade Manager.
  • Use FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents to complete FedEx generated forms and submit them electronically to customs. Using this efficient solution eliminates the need for creating and placing manually prepared paper documents in a pouch on the shipment.

For information on how to complete the documents, order the FASC Network International Shipping Guide. The guide was created specifically for FASC program participants and includes document samples, explanations of when they’re required and how to complete them, and tips for finding additional information online.

Here’s a list of documents that may be required for your customer’s shipment:

  • FedEx International Air Waybill. Input your customer’s information in the Sender section.
  • Commercial Invoice. Not required for shipping documents of no commercial value.
  • Certificate of Origin. The commodity and destination country determine whether this form is required.
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin. This form is used for goods that qualify for preferential treatment accorded by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Electronic Export Information (EEI). Required for shipments that include either single items or multiples of the same item valued at more than US$2,500 when shipping to or from certain countries.
  • Shipping label. Use for shipping packages.
  • Bill of Lading. Use for shipping freight.

The FedEx Global Trade Manager page has links to tools that can help you determine the following:

  • Harmonized System (HS) code. This code is used by participating countries to classify your goods for global trade and is used to determine duties and taxes in the destination country.
  • Estimated duties and taxes. The amount payable to the government of the destination country for imports and exports is determined by the HS code of the product being shipped and where it’s been shipped to.

An especially useful tool for small-business customers is the International Shipping Checklist (PDF). It includes information on how to verify whether a commodity is accepted in the destination country, what documents are required, how to clear customs with ease and FedEx® solutions that can help them through the process.

Customers needing a signature upon delivery can choose from four different options:

  • Adult Signature Required (ASR). A signature is required from a person at the delivery address who is considered an adult in the destination country. A government-issued photo identification of the person signing for the package or another identification accepted by local authorities must be presented. If a signature cannot be obtained, FedEx may reattempt the delivery.
  • Direct Signature Required (DSR). Someone at the recipient’s address must sign for the delivery. If no one is at the address, FedEx may reattempt the delivery.
  • Indirect Signature Required (ISR). FedEx may release the package in one of three ways:
    • Obtaining a signature from someone at the delivery address.
    • Acquiring a signature from a neighbor, building manager or other person at a neighboring address.
    • Gaining authorization from the recipient to release the package without anyone present.
  • No Signature Required (NSR). FedEx may release the package without anyone present. This option may not be available for all shipments or to all destinations. See the FedEx Service Guide for more details.

For more information on FedEx Delivery Signature Options, including frequently asked questions, go to the International Shipping Guide on fedex.com.

Available at no cost to enroll, FedEx Delivery Manager provides shippers the opportunity to offer customized delivery options to residential recipients in 60 countries. Your customers will benefit from knowing their packages will be delivered when and where the recipients want them. The service reduces failed delivery attempts, which can help your small-business shippers with their bottom line and keep their customers satisfied.

For more information, including a list of frequently asked questions and steps on how to activate the service, direct your customers to the FedEx Delivery Manager page for international shipments. 

  • 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339. Say “international services” for assistance.
  • Electronic Trade Documents. Use this efficient solution to prepare and electronically submit customs documents instead of manually preparing paper versions.
  • FedEx Global Trade Manager. This online shipping assistant can save you time, work and worry by simplifying and clarifying the steps involved in preparing international shipments.
  • FedEx International Shipping Assist. Based on the information you enter about your shipments, this tool will estimate Harmonized System codes, project duties and taxes, and recommend customs documents to accompany your shipments.
  • FedEx Know and GrowSM. Gain access to various export-specific seminars, conferences, classes and webinars given by reputable agencies and trade organizations, such as the U.S. Commercial Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, ExporTech and Export University, the Bureau of Industry Security (BIS), and more.
  • FASC Network International Shipping Guide. Designed specifically for FASC program participants, this guide includes examples of customs documentation and explanations of when and why they’re needed, plus tips for completing international shipping transactions. You can order the guide from the Marketing Toolbox on the FASC Network.
  • International Shipping Checklist (PDF). This handy document will guide your small-business customers in their international shipping journeys, from start to finish.
  • International Shipping Guide on fedex.com. A complete resource for planning, creating and managing shipments from documentation to destination.

*For details on the FedEx Money-Back Guarantee, see the Service Guide.