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International Shipping Rate Calculator | How to Understand Your Shipping Cost

Nicasio Co III
October 20, 2020

Have you ever wondered what’s included in your shipping cost? Sure, people can understand that shipping costs are rising because of the pandemic. However, wouldn’t it be better if the charge given by a company’s international shipping rate calculator was broken down? This would help many shippers and buyers understand the factors behind the rising costs and subsequently help them make informed decisions on the cheapest international shipping from Canada. 

Worry no more! In this guide, we’ll break down the different things that affect shipping costs, and the factors that affect the price calculations. We can also ease any doubts about whether shipping companies can transport your packages internationally.

Does USPS Ship Internationally?

Definitely! Most logistics companies have partners that enable them to ship to other countries, so you don’t have to worry about questions like, “Can Amazon ship internationally?” In fact, the ecommerce giant is now transporting 26% of online orders using its own air fleet. This simplifies the delivery process for ecommerce sellers.

What is Shipping and Handling?

It’s the process of preparing, packing, and transporting an item to a customer. Consumers often see this as a separate fee in their ecommerce purchases, but not many understand what it covers. If we had to break it down, they would include the cost of packaging materials, warehouse space for inventory, delivery, transportation, and the manpower for all these activities. If you’re a buyer, anything that needs to be done after your purchase falls under shipping and handling. 

Shipping and handling are two separate processes, though these terms are used interchangeably. They ultimately have the same goal: get the items to the customer. Handling is everything that happens before a package is shipped: sorting, packaging, putting the correct label, and loading onto a shipping vessel. Shipping includes transportation, postage, fuel, driver fees, and any other extra cost. 

Ecommerce sellers need to know these processes as they are the factors that affect the cost of international shipping from Canada or any other country. 

What Affects Shipping Costs in International Shipping Rate Calculators?

The shipping business is very complex, with a lot of moving parts, and that’s the reason why your shipping cost is sometimes higher than you expect. A lot of factors affect the final price for standard international shipping. Here are some of the most common ones.

  1. Parcel Handling: As mentioned above, the sorting, packaging, labeling, and loading onto a shipping vessel of your parcel is considered handling. More handling means more labor needed, and that contributes to shipping costs.
  2. Shipping Charges: This refers to the transportation of your parcel from the warehouse to the customer. This includes all charges related to shipping, and sometimes human error resulting from the mislabeling of parcels or putting the wrong address.
  3. Shipping Insurance: Wouldn’t it be great if all packages arrived on time and without any damage? Unfortunately, we live in the real world. Packages sometimes don’t go through unscathed, so insurance provides protection. Shippers who will be transporting expensive or rare items are particularly advised to pay for insurance. Many carriers compute the insurance cost as a percentage of the item insured.
  4. Duties and Taxes: Shipping to another country can be a little tricky because there are fees that need to be paid, depending on the region. There are two options: Delivery Duty Unpaid (the recipient needs to pay) or Delivery Duty Paid (the shipper needs to pay). Disbursement fees may apply here as these fees are charged to clients who don’t pay their duties directly to customs. 
  5. Accessorial Fees: These fees are added after the shipment to make up for lost time and/or resources during shipping. Let’s talk about those.

Accessorial Fees Simplified

When an LTL (less-than-truckload) shipment is arranged, the carrier gives the terms of the pickup and delivery. This is the standard process, but the terms may change in busy shipping seasons. Accessorial fees are then added to the invoice to cover any services needed beyond the agreed terms. Shippers are also responsible for fuel surcharges that fluctuate regularly.

Carriers typically combine LTLs going in the same direction to optimize their routes and manpower. Now, if one LTL needs additional equipment or labor, it slows down the other LTLs. That means other companies are affected by your shipment and that’s computed by the carrier to be added to your invoice later. 

The most common accessorial fees come from border crossings, non-standard pickups (e.g., after-hours pickup, excessively long cargo, pickups from trade shows or farms, and hazardous cargo), and content or size of cargo. The way to probably avoid some of these added fees is to be completely transparent with your shipping company about the details of your package. 

Pricing Models

Using an international shipping rate calculator gives shippers a general idea on how much it costs to transport their packages, minus the added fees. Most carriers use one of two pricing models: flat rate shipping, and dimensional weight. 

Flat rate shipping, which is used by USPS, involves getting the average cost of all shipping and making it as your fixed rate. It almost certainly guarantees that you’ll pay a shipping cost based on the size of your package, ideal for anything less than 16 ounces.

Shipping based on dimensional weight, which is used by UPS and FedEx, computes the density of your package. They multiply the length, width, and height of the package and divide it by a carrier’s divisor (specified by the carrier) based on the package dimensions. This could be more expensive for large or heavy items but economical for standard-sized packages. 

Make Insightful Decisions

International shipping rate calculators can definitely give shippers an overview of your shipping cost. However, having more knowledge of what makes up the shipping costs will give you the ability to compare the price of your carrier and the rate they apply to their quote.
Stallion Express is an established shipping company that offers the cheapest shipping in Canada. If you need more information about the prices we offer on standard and priority international shipping, email us at [email protected].

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