International shipping is a popularized term in eCommerce and the surrounding vicinity. The moment a store owner has access to a massive market globally, they need an ultimate delivery plan. How do you send goods from point A to B on an international map—which could be any location on MyUSAddress? The answer is even more lucrative if you pose such questions to a drop shipper. After all, a drop shipper earns profits by selling supplier goods internationally.

What is International Shipping?

International shipping involves sending cargo/goods to foreign countries (destination) using road, ocean, or air. It involves different compliance requirements and various freight over borders. To successfully ship your products, you must understand and abide by objective policies that approve or deny custom clearance.

How Does International Shipping Work?

Ecommerce members need prompt, affordable, and global shipping to grow their customer base. How does international shipping work? What should one consider before facilitating their shipping to clients? The international shipping process doesn’t differ much from the domestic process but involves a few add-ons. The primary shipping process is the same, though the process varies among shipping and fulfilling providers.

Elements Involved in the Process


The first player in the process is tackled by the buyer (the importer). The buyer places the international order once they identify the product.


An exporter, typically the seller, is responsible for goods manufacturing.


Customs (or authorities) give clearance that allows products to leave the producing country and reach the destination.

Transport Providers

Transport providers stand out as essential adjoint to any shipping process. They handle the loading/ unloading of goods and their extraction from warehouses.

Freight Forwarders

A freight forwarder (or a forwarding agent) is the individual or organization responsible for the shipment. They will organize the shipment and facilitate the delivery of goods to customers.

Shipping Company

Shipping company rails or roads the goods from source (manufacturer) to destination/recipient (customer)

Custom House Agent (CHA)

At every custom station, a CHA agent transacts all departures or entries of conveyance.

The International Shipping Process

International shipping involves the following processes: Export haulage, export customs clearance, origin handling, ocean freight, import customs clearance, destination handling, and import haulage.

Export haulage

Export haulage is the first aspect of transportation. The cargo moves from the shipper to the forwarder, usually by rail or road. Often, the forwarder is an origin warehouse (an export consolidation center. A local transportation company can be arranged if the shipper is responsible for the transportation. A freight forwarder is usually the best option when the consignee is responsible. They’ll incorporate the export haulage as part of the international transportation. Both trucks loading at shipper’s premises and offloading at forwarder’s premises are not considered part of export haulage.

Export Custom Clearance

Every shipment leaving a country must meet the regulatory requirements, which are checked and approved via custom formalities. Custom clearances are transactions that develop declarations and submit relevant documents to the authority. Companies performing this sort of transaction—the custom house blockers—must hold a valid custom license. These can denote a freight forwarder with a valid license or one of their appointees. Alternatively, the shipper can appoint their preferred custom house broker to tackle the affairs. Completion of the transaction is mandatory before goods depart the country of origin.

Origin Handling

Origin of handling covers every activity from when the cargo arrives at the warehouse to when it’s loaded to ship containers, including good handling and inspections. Many steps are employed, and different parties are involved, but the freight forwarder or their agents govern all the responsibility and coordination. Once at the warehouse, the cargo is inspected, consolidated with other goods, packed in a container, and transported to a port for loading and shipment.

Ocean Freight

So they hit the timeline for shipment, the freight forwarder must choose a shipping line (shipping service) to undertake ocean freight. In that case, the freight forwarder signs a contract of carriage with the shipping line. That excludes the consignee or shipper from direct liability to shipping line endeavors. However, the consignee/ shipper is subject to ocean freight charges.

Import Custom Clearance

Import custom clearance tends to begin before cargo arrives at the destination country. Like an expert custom clearance, a declaration is developed and submitted to authorities with relevant documents, enabling the registration and levy of the shipment’s custom duties. The freight forwarder (or an assignee) is responsible for this transaction. Alternatively, the consignee might assign this duty to a custom house broker. 

Destination Handling

Cargo handling at the destination is vital before getting released to consignees. The process involves cargo offloading at port and transportation to the forwarder’s destination warehouse. Afterward, there is container unstuffing and cargo preparation for consignee collection.

Import Haulage

Import haulage forms the last step of international shipping. It involves the cargo delivery to the addressed consignee location, often facilitated by a local transportation company or freight forwarder. If the shipper makes the delivery arrangements, it’s reasonable to assign the haulage duties to freight forwarders. Unloading from the truck is usually the consignee’s responsibility once the cargo gets delivered.

By Manali