International shipping can be "foreign" as it sounds, but depending on the origin, destination, and shipment info, it can grow your business exponentially.
Import or Export?
Export is easier than Import in that when a product is exported to the destination port, the receiver then can pay for their customs, duties, and taxes. Set terms ahead of time with your buyer overseas. Ask them to pick up the goods at the port, so you don't have to pay door delivery. Exceptions to that are if you are using DHL, FedEx, or UPS. You can see all the different terms of sale on www.incoterms.com. For Importing, companies will need a Customs Broker. Customs brokers help businesses identify what importers need and can be a valuable asset once a good broker is found. If you are shipping overseas, companies will need to know the harmonized tariff code of the product and the duties that will need to be paid. If product is duty-free, all you need to pay is the customs clearance (approx $100) and merchandising/harbor fees for ocean shipments (approx $70). For air shipments, the forwarder will assess fuel and security fees.
Choosing Your Forwarder
A Freight Forwarder is a company that arranges your international shipment. There are over 3,000 fowarders worldwide. So how do you pick which one is right for your shipment? Price will most likely be a factor, but keep in mind that service will also need to be looked at. Getting quotes in a timely manner, following up with the status of the shipment, and delivery notification should all be considered when making the decision to use the right freight forwarder.
Air vs. Ocean
Air shipments have a faster transit time, but are more expensive. Air shipments can be overnight or up to 7 days. Ocean shipments can take 15 days to 6 weeks, depending on the origin and destination. The price difference can be huge. Ocean shipments cost roughly $50 - $200 per cubic meter, while air shipments cost $1500 - $2000 per cubic meter. Of course, this is based primarily on shipments that are 1000 kg or more. Sometimes, if the shipment is only 1 - 200 lbs, there may not be much a difference in price between air and ocean costs.
Asking your company, "Can we wait for the ocean shipment? Can our customers wait for us to receive the ocean shipment and then ship it to them?"
If under 200 lbs, it may make sense to air it.