You may also be interested in these guides: The Perils of International Shipping With eBay and Paypal – A Guide to Successful Shipping Practices and Print USPS Small and Large Flat Rate Box Labels With PayPal On EBay
Printing international shipping labels is now possible with Paypal and at USPS.com. All of the customs forms you need will print along with the label so you won’t need to fill out any forms at the Post Office. Since it’s complicated to figure out what forms you need and how to fill them out, it is usually easier to print shipping labels online. You also save between 5-8% when printing international shipping labels online compared to the price you would pay at the Post Office. I prefer to print shipping labels at USPS.com because Paypal does not include the Express Mail International Flat Rate Envelope as an option, which is my most common shipping mehod. They also don’t have First Class International as an option. Printing international labels the first couple times may seem a bit daunting, but once you figure out how to fill out the forms you should be able to complete them quickly. Here’s what to do:
This guide is picture heavy so click below to read the complete guide:
First, you need to get the address you’re shipping to. If you’re using Paypal, log in to your account, find the transaction, and click “details” next to it. This way Paypal will give you the buyer’s email address to input into USPS.com as well.
The “ship to” address will come up at the top of the next page. Only ship to the address Paypal lists as the “ship-to” address. If you ship to an alternate address you run the risk of the buyer opening an item not received dispute. You will lose the dispute and have to refund the buyer because your tracking number will show the item was delivered to the wrong address, even if you have an email from the buyer telling you to ship to the alternate address. This is a common scam on eBay, so you should watch out for it.
Open a new browser window and go to USPS.com. At the top, click “Print Shipping Label.”
You don’t need to select the country you’re shipping to on this screen as you’ll need to change it later anyway. Just click “Sign in.”
If you have an account with USPS set up ,log in here. If not, you can sign up quickly.
The next screen is where you will enter your recipient information. Choose the country first from the drop down menu as it will change what options you have to input. Copy/paste the address from the Paypal details or wherever you have the address stored or enter it manually.
Continue filling out the form. On the left side, make sure you check the “shipping from address above” box. You can also enter your email if you want to receive tracking updates. Fill out as much of the recipient information as possible. Add the buyer’s email address so they receive an email with all of the shipping and tracking information. In Paypal the buyer’s email is available if you scroll down the “details” page where you got the buyer’s address. Adding a phone number is no longer required, so you can skip that.
Continue down to the package information. This is where it starts to get tricky. Many buyers will request that you ship the item as a gift with a value marked less than it’s worth – usually below $20 so they won’t have to pay customs fees. International buyers purchase items from the United States because they’re cheaper than in their own country due to higher taxes. When the buyer receives an item from out of the country with a high value, customs charges an importation tax that can be as high as 25% or more of the declared value.
There are a few problems with marking the item as a gift with a lowered value. First, if the item is lost and you try to collect postal insurance you will only be eligible to collect the amount you wrote down as the declared value. Second, it is a federal crime to falsify customs forms. You’ll have to decide if the risk of loss and jail is worth happier customers and increased sales. Since it’s a crime to falsify customs forms I won’t recommend doing that.
Enter the weight and the value of the item. The highest value you input should be the amount the item was purchased for, not what you think the item is worth.
The next screen is where you choose which shipping method you want to use. For an analysis of your options, see my full guide on international shipping options, The Perils of International Shipping With eBay and Paypal – A Guide to Successful Shipping Practices . Also, note the difference in price between printing online (price on the left) and in person at the Post Office (price on the right).
The neck page is where you start filling out the online customs forms. For the first drop down menu choose which option is applicable. Another way to help the buyer dodge customs charges while still marking a high price for insurance is to choose “returned goods.” You don’t need to fill out the “contents description” or “comments” here. You do that further down.
The next box is where you tell customs what the item inside of the package is. Be specific. Include the quantity, unit weight, and the value per unit of the contents. Make sure the total value from the last page is equal to the quantity times the unit value. If it isn’t, go back a page and change the total value so they match. Since I have a different weight here than I did before I would have to go back and correct it.
The next part is the restrictions and prohibitions. USPS and other countries generally frown on shipping anthrax, bombs, or whatever “anzac” is so make sure what you’re shipping is allowed. Click continue.
The next page confirms your label. Make sure everything looks in order. If you want to create another shipping label, click “create another label.” Clicking “continue” will take you to the checkout screen. At the bottom of the “ship to” column is an option to add the package to a “SCAN” form. You can add packages to the SCAN form if you have USPS pick up your packages. The postal worker that picks up the packages will not scan all of the individual packages that they pick up. They will scan the SCAN form though, which will update your confirmation and tracking numbers so they say they have been accepted by the USPS. You can add up to 10 labels to print at USPS. International labels and domestic labels are also split into two categories so you can print them separately. This is helpful when printing domestic labels on adhesive paper and international labels on regular printing paper. If you’ve finished making your labels, click continue.
The next page is where you add your credit card information and accept the terms. Enter them and click continue.
The next page explains what packaging you need for international shipments. This customs envelope is required for all printed international labels other than Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes: http://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10152&storeId=10001&categoryId=13356&productId=11683&langId=-1&WT.ac=11683 The Post Office will also have these envelopes. Check the box at the bottom and click “Pay and print.”
This will bring up the print screen. Verify the correct printer is selected. By default, USPS wants you to print the first two pages which are necessary and a third page which is just printing instructions. This instructions page is handy the first time, but annoying and a waste of paper from then on. If you do not want the instructions page to print, make sure you select “Pages” under print range and enter “1-2.” USPS wants you to print the instructions page for every label you print, so if you’re printing three international labels you’ll have to select “Pages” and enter “1-2, 4-5, 7-8″ because every third page is the instructions page. Make sure you have some regular paper in your printer since there’s no reason to waste the adhesive shipping labels because the pages are just going in the customs envelope anyway. Click “Ok” to print.
You need to cut these pages in half because it’s actually 4 forms on two pages. Sign each one at the bottom where it asks for the signature. You do not need to fill out any additional information as it was all inputted during the label creation process. Note at the bottom right that the pages are numbered 1-4. Make sure the page on top is the “Customs Declaration” because it also has the postage paid information. Place copies 1-3 into the customs envelope and attach it to the package for mailing.
You will not be charged for printing the label until you click “Yes” the label did print out correctly. I don’t recommend trying to trick USPS by printing the label and then click “No.” They’ll charge you if the label shows up in the mail system. if the label actually did not print properly click “No” and then click on your cart at the top of the page. This will bring you back to where you can print the label again. After clicking “Yes” you will come to a confirmation page that lists the tracking number, if applicable.
It’s important that you input this label into Paypal if that’s where the payment originated from. To do this, go to the Paypal “details” page from before and scroll down until you see a button that says “Add Tracking Info.” Click the button and input the tracking number along with USPS as the carrier and submit it to Paypal. Chose “shipped” even if you haven’t physically shipped the item so you don’t have to come back in a day or two to change the status.
That’s how you print a shipping label online at USPS.com. After you print the first one and get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. The hard part is figuring out whether or not to ship as a gift and what to say on the customs forms. Overall, printing online is easier and more convenient than going to the Post Office. Plus, it’s cheaper too.
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