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The world is not enough!? International shipping and its legal requirements

Shopping and shipping worldwide

The first step is to define your target group. Decide exactly which countries you want to supply to and make this clear. For example, this could be via a special button labeled “Shipping information”. Then, during the registration process, the destination country must be specified when entering the address. Avoid mistakes and identify vulnerabilities. Retailers often allow customers to select a country from a drop-down list even though they do not actually send goods to that area. It’s vital to be clear and address these types of error to avoid confusion.

Shipping costs

Customers who make an online purchase from abroad often pay two to five times more for the delivery than they would in their home country. In addition to the policy, sellers themselves are therefore required to develop transparent and attractive shipping cost models for their customers. Once you have decided which countries you are going to deliver to, it is important for potential customers to have a clear idea of how much shipping costs to their area would be.

In cases where these costs cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, e.g. carrier goods, the business must state that such additional costs may be incurred. Remember: A lack of transparency leads to a lack of orders.

Delivery issues

In ecommerce, customers also expect to receive an estimated delivery date. For online merchants, it can be difficult to provide a specific delivery time for international customers. Avoid frustration by carefully considering how long it will take for customers in each area to receive their goods.

Import regulations

Apart from freight, delivery and shipping costs, it’s interesting for customers in other countries to know whether import official regulations should be observed. So-called “customs declarations” must be submitted for the shipment. In addition, shippers have to deal with the regulations of their transport company, and many transport companies have special regulations for shipping to other countries.

In terms of special goods, such as weapons, animals and dangerous goods, import regulations are much stricter. Separate approvals may be required for this purpose. In general, customs and import law issues vary widely from country to country. To avoid any risk of delay in delivery, merchants should always check with their carrier.

Finally, no concrete customs duties, taxes or fees should be communicated to the customer before the order is placed.

Visit Händlerbund for further information about shipping regulations.

Guest blog by Yvonne Bachmann, Händlerbund

Since 2013, Yvonne Bachmann has been working as an attorney for  Händlerbund, Europe’s largest ecommerce association. She advises online retailers on legal issues and regularly reports on legislative changes and legal issues affecting the e-commerce industry. 

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