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International Shipping Services


Ever wondered how international shipping happens?

May be it’s a small gift that you want to send across to your cousin living half way across the globe or its just some homemade pickle that your mom has made for you and want to get it delivered to you at your address in US.

Be it a one kg package or a bigger international parcel weighing over a hundred kilograms, the basics are the same. In this article we’ll explain various international shipping options, choosing and evaluating the right option based on speed, budget and contents apart from packaging guidelines and documentation.

Ok let’s start from the scratch. What’s international shipping?

In simple words it’s the movement of goods from one international location to another. It could be a small document package or a parcel that gets send by air or it could be a large commercial shipment sent as ocean freight. It all comes under international shipping. The mode of the transport could be air, ocean or even road or rail in certain places. Depending on the budget, speed and size of the package the type of service required it could be courier, air cargo, ocean freight etc…It’s a bit confusing when everything is said in one go, I know.

So in this article we’ll be specifically be discussing about international shipping from India,  primarily talking about sending  personal  non 5
commercial packages, parcels and documents from India.

Types of International Shipping


Ok let’s assume that you want to send a small package containing some apparel from India to your sister living in USA. Now if the package is small, light weight you could send this across as courier also known as express cargo. There are many companies which offer courier and international shipping from India for example DHL, Fedex, Aramex etc… These are some of the leading international shipping companies in the world well known for their reliability, speed and quality of service. Courier services are fast, offers door to door delivery with international shipping tracking thereby helping you to track the package right from pick up to delivery. They are fully managed meaning you don’t have to worry about any documentations or customs clearance process as it is taken care off by the carrier. As you can see sending a courier is pretty easy and straight forward. All that you have to do is to make a booking provide the required documents and make the payment.

The flipside is that courier services can come across as expensive and is commonly used for sending documents and small packages. Depending on the carrier you can expect INR2000 upwards per Kg for  sending a package from India to USA if  you directly go with them. As you can see it isn’t the most economical option when sending low value and bulky items whose delivery is not urgent. One way to bring down the cost is to get in touch with a channel partner of these leading international shipping companies. All the leading courier service and express cargo service providers have got channel partners who get discounted rates and as such their rates are much lower than the rates offered when you  directly go with the carrier. The reason being that they send shipments regularly and thus get discounted pricing based on the volume of cargo that they do. Not to mention that they negotiate hard.

Alright. I am still not happy with the price and plus I don’t mind if it takes a little longer to deliver. What other option do I have?

Door to Door parcel service

Like courier it is also sent by air but a lot more cheaper at times 60 to 70% cheaper than regular courier service. That sounds cool! What is it and how does it work?

Usually the channel partners or resellers that we have mentioned above mainly focus on providing parcel service. They have tie ups with multiple carriers and has got the network and facilities to handle parcels.  What happens is that your package gets picked up and goes to the channel partner’s warehouse were it gets clubbed with other customer’s packages. This consolidation process gives considerable savings as the per Kilogram rates go down as the size of the shipment increases. Better  and more efficient packaging also lead to increased savings. They intern pass on a part of these savings to the customers thereby getting better rates. As mentioned the rates could be at times 70% less compared to regular courier service.

The downside is that door to door parcel service could take much longer compared to regular courier services and offers limited international shipping tracking.

How international shipping works?

When it comes to courier service, the process is pretty straight forward. Your package gets picked up by the courier personal. This then goes to the company’s local handling center. From there it goes to the carrier’s regional/national hub from where it gets dispatched after clearing customs. Now depending on the origin and destination the package might go through one or more international transshipment hubs before it reaches the destination country. Once it reaches their it again goes through a clearance process. It then goes through one or more handling centers and hubs before the package finally gets delivered.

Door to door parcel service works pretty much the same just that package first arrives at the channel partner’s warehouse and sits there before it gets clubbed with other packages. Once it reaches the destination country the bulk package gets unpacked and individual packages are sent to their respective destinations.

 International Shipping tracking guide

Tracking your package helps you know the progress and also provides you peace of mind so that you are not in dark. When it comes to courier it is pretty straight forward. All leading carriers offers real time international shipping tracking. All that you need to do is to punch in the AWB or the airway bill number provided by the carrier at the time of booking at the tracking section in the company’s website. For door to door parcel its slightly different since it might go through multiple carriers and non carrier warehouses the tracking needs to be provided by the channel partner. This information is usually available on their website by using the airway bill number provided or by contacting customer service team at the parcel service provider. Since the shipment is not directly handled end to end by a single carrier, the tracking information may not always be real time as that’s what the experience says.

Never the less tracking of the shipment is important especially when you are sending time sensitive packages or medicines. The delivery time frames vary from country to country. A courier sent via a leading carrier usually takes only 2-3 business days to get delivered to USA from India. However the standard shipment time is 5 to 6 business days. Parcel service on the other hand could take 5 to 10 business days or at times longer.


Is it hard to ship internationally? Does every international package go through customs?

As long as you do things right, sending international shipments is easy and is not difficult as you think it is. Of course sending restricted items involves additional procedures, documentations and might cost you more and take longer than usual to deliver. But remember that a good shipping partner can help you make the process smooth and a lot easier. Talk to one of our friendly shipping experts and they’ll make things easy for you. Yes every single international shipment needs to go through customs clearance process.

What are the documents required for international shipping?

The document requirements are different for commercial and non-commercial shipments. For sending personal packages the basic documents required are: ID proof, address proof and declaration. Documents required also depend on the content and the location. For example for sending medicines, the documents required include original invoice, doctor’s prescription, passport copy of the receiver etc… Get in touch with us to know more.

What is the usual transit time from India?

It depends on destination and type of service. For instance the usual transit time from India to USA is 3-5 business days for packages booked under express. For economy service this could be 10-12 business days. Similarly for destinations like UAE, Oman, and Srilanka this is as low as 2 business days from pick up.

How do I insure my shipment? Is it worth it?

Given an option one should always opt for insurance as it helps to mitigate risk and cover losses due to unforeseen circumstances. You can request for insurance at the time of booking. Insurance covers the loss or damage to the items. The claim for the same can be filed for the declared value of the shipments plus shipping costs. However do note that shipping insurance does not cover import duties or taxes, domestic shipping charges etc…Also note carriers may carry limited or no liability for electronic items like TV, furniture, fragile items etc… Talk to your shipping expert to know more.

What packaging should I use and how important is it?

Good packaging ensures safe and timely delivery of your goods. They type of packaging required is specific to the product that’s being shipped and apart from the mode of shipment like air freight or ocean freight. For fragile and flimsy items, a sturdier packaging with adequate cushioning is required to avoid transit damages. The type of packaging commonly used includes carton boxes to wooden crates to cans and drums. As mentioned it by and large depends on the item, shipping mode and other factors like customer requirements. Talk to your shipping expert to know more.

What are restricted and prohibited items? Can they be shipped?

Prohibited items are those items that cannot be shipped at all for example explosives, cash, arms and ammunitions etc… Restricted items are those items that are categorized as restricted meaning they cannot be shipped out freely, may involve some additional procedures and require more documentation or in some cases cannot be shipped at all. For example medicines for personal use, art works, food products etc…