If you do business through the internet, it’s a given that you’ll eventually acquire a few international customers. Whether you send a package through the USPS or another shipping service or carrier, you’ll encounter significant little differences in the way things are handled. Here are the top three factors to consider when shipping internationally. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind when dealing with international customers (although they can still apply to someone on the other side of town as well.)

Stay Aware of the Rates

Postal and shipping rates will change more often and more quickly than you can imagine. Keep a look out for fluctuations and changes in international shipping rates through the assorted companies’ websites. Sign up for alerts and newsletters that can keep you informed of such changes. Meanwhile, when you prepare a package, stick to the smallest sizes and weights. A compact, lightweight package is cheaper and gets delivered faster. Provide a means of instant measurement—like a yardstick or area off marked in tape—so you'll know when the dimensions have been exceeded. Before marking a package for sending, do a recon of current rates and pick the best offer. Note that companies appreciate large orders batched together and may be willing to go down in price.

Know What You Can and Cannot Send

The freedom afforded by the internet might make it seem like anything goes and every country is eager to receive your goods. But the truth is, some things aren’t allowed into other countries, and your customers may or may not know if your products and goods are permitted to cross the border. Some types of alcohol, food products, plants, seeds, and even some forms of ceramic tableware are banned in the United States for sundry reasons. It’s the same with other countries. If you send forbidden item to your customer, it may be held up by customs. You and your customer could face stiff fines and legal issues. Before shipping a package off to another country, make sure it’s allowed to go there.

Proper Packaging Prospers

The last of the top three factors to consider when shipping internationally is ensuring that your packages are packed and marked correctly. You’ll need more than an address, a return address, and postage for international travel—although these are hugely important. Some countries require extra markings, tags, and other paperwork. When you’re shipping to a different country, find out their shipping regulations. Some countries demand itemized descriptions of the package's contents on the outside, including price and manufacturer. Order packing tape and use it so your packages will remain tightly sealed on the long journey. A secure package is a swift one.