Research local laws, duties, and taxes

As an international seller, you must comply with local laws when selling across borders and you should research this aspect thoroughly. Here are some important considerations:

Duties and taxes

Duties and taxes may be charged to the customer on certain items, and they vary by country. Before selling and shipping internationally, confirm if your products will be subject to duty charges for the markets you’re selling to.

Many international shipping carriers offer the option to pay duties before an item is shipped, which is often referred to as Delivery Duty Paid (DDP), or your customers can defer duty payment until the item is received in-country, often referred to as Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU). Always make sure your customers are aware that additional duties charges may apply and it’s their responsibility to pay these fees before they can collect their goods.

Customs and regulations

All shipments must clear customs - the agency that regulates shipments entering a country or region. To help customs officials understand the contents, value, and purpose of your shipment, you must attach customs forms to the outside of your package so they can be examined easily.

Many countries use the international harmonised system to identify and classify import goods. The harmonised system is managed by the World Customs Organization and provides a uniform method for customs authorities to apply duties. As a first step in understanding what duties or customs fees may apply for your goods, you should identify the harmonised code for your products.

As a general rule, you should not declare your package’s contents as a “gift”. It’s against the law to misrepresent an item for the purpose of avoiding customs fees.

Free trade agreements

Taking advantage of any free trade agreements, if any, to help reduce or eliminate tariffs for specific categories of products. These negotiated free trade rates may require more record keeping, but that extra effort could save you money if you plan to export into any of the participating countries.