USPS International Shipping: Costs, Times, and Tips

Seeking details on usps international shipping? Costs, delivery options, and how to get started are key elements you need. This article delivers a direct and concise breakdown of USPS’s international services, providing clear cost estimations and essential tips to streamline your international shipping process. Maybe you are making the move abroad, or maybe just looking for a way to ship goods to a friend or family member in another country.  Whatever your reason is, I wrote this step-by-step guide so you can confidently send your packages to any global destination with USPS.

Shipping Items With the USPS Internationally

  • USPS provides a variety of international services like Priority Mail International, Priority Mail Express International, and First-Class Mail International, catering to different delivery speeds, package sizes, and destinations.
  • International shipping costs with USPS vary based on package weight, size, and destination, but cost-effective options like Flat Rate shipping and online postage purchases can offer significant savings.
  • Proper package preparation and compliance with customs regulations are crucial for successful international shipping with USPS, which offers tools like Click-N-Ship for label printing, plus extras like tracking and insurance for added security.

Exploring USPS International Services

USPS International Services

The United States Postal Service, a household name synonymous with reliable postal services, has an impressive array of international services under its belt. These include USPS Priority Mail International, Priority Mail Express International, and First-Class Mail International, each catering to varying package sizes, desired delivery times, and destinations. Whether it’s a heartfelt letter to a loved one in Canada or an urgent business document heading to the UK, USPS has got you covered.

Service Comparison

USPS international services are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Suppose you need a fast mail service to over 180 countries. In that case, Priority Mail Express International is your go-to, while Priority Mail International offers a cost-effective shipping option with a delivery window of 6-10 business days, depending on the destination. For a more specific service, consider Priority Mail International Flat for your shipping needs.

First-Class Mail International, on the other hand, is the most affordable service for sending letters and large envelopes to multiple international destinations.

Choosing the Right Service

Selecting an appropriate USPS international service may seem complex at first. But fret not! A few key considerations can guide your decision:

  • Package size matters, as some services have size restrictions.
  • For larger or heavier packages, flat rate services offer a single rate, regardless of weight or distance.
  • The destination significantly influences your choice, given that not all services are offered in every country.

Last but not least, consider the urgency of the shipment. Expedited services like Priority Mail Express International come in handy for urgent deliveries, while Priority Mail International strikes a balance between cost and speed for less time-sensitive shipments.

Navigating USPS International Shipping Costs

USPS International Shipping Costs

As anticipated, USPS international shipping costs differ based on various factors. They vary based on factors like weight, size, and destination. Each USPS service comes with its unique price point.

For instance, prices for First-Class Mail International, Priority Mail International, and First-Class Package International Service hinge on the package weight and destination. But don’t let this deter you. USPS provides competitively priced services that can be more economical than private carriers, especially for certain destinations and package sizes.

Cost Estimation Examples

To provide a clearer understanding of USPS international shipping costs, here are some examples. USPS Global Express Guaranteed service to Canada starts at $74.95, promising delivery within 1 to 3 business days. A package headed to European destinations via the same service begins at $94.95.

For smaller packages up to 4 lbs, the First-Class Package International Service offers a more economical option, with prices starting at $17.00.

Money-Saving Tips

Let’s be honest, everyone appreciates a good deal. When it comes to USPS international shipping, there are several ways to save money. For starters, consider USPS Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Boxes for international shipments. These options allow you to ship items up to a certain weight without additional costs.

For sending postcards, letters, and large envelopes, First-Class Mail International can save you a pretty penny. Lastly, by purchasing postage online through services like, you can save up to 12% on Priority Mail International and up to 7% on Priority Mail Express International, while also taking advantage of mail international flat rate options and postal international money orders.

The International Shipping Process with USPS

International Shipping Process

Having addressed the basics, it’s time to explore the USPS international shipping process. USPS has streamlined the process with online tools like Click-N-Ship, which allows you to pay for postage and print international shipping labels and customs forms from the comfort of your own home or office. Not to mention, USPS software provides solutions for postage calculation, electronic documentation creation, and tracking of international parcels.

Preparing Your Package

Preparing your package for international shipping should be given significant attention, as it’s a vital step when shipping internationally. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Select a sturdy box with enough space for cushioning to protect fragile items.
  2. Make sure all sides are taped securely.
  3. Use special packaging for liquids and fragile items to meet international standards.

Also, each item in the package must be listed along with its individual weight and value on the customs forms. A little extra effort and attention to detail here can go a long way in ensuring a smooth shipping journey for your package.

Drop-off and Pickup Options

After preparing your package, the next step is to choose your drop-off and pickup preferences. USPS offers a free package pickup service for both Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express international shipments, which includes USPS Tracking. This convenience can be requested through online postage services, such as Click-N-Ship, without the need for extra fees.

For those who prefer a more precise pickup time, the Pickup on Demand® service schedules a 2-hour window for a fee. Alternatively, packages can be dropped off at a Post Office facility for proper handling of the international shipment.

Understanding Customs Forms and Regulations

Customs Forms and Regulations

In international shipping, adhering to customs forms and regulations is a necessity not to be disregarded. As of March 1, 2023, shipments to EU countries require more detailed content descriptions. USPS offers an array of online tools, including Click-N-Ship, to facilitate the completion of customs forms. These services also help users navigate the variable regulations specific to different destination countries.

Required Documentation

For international shipments, required customs documentation is a must. USPS allows customs information to be entered and customs forms to be printed electronically using USPS Customs Forms Online and Click-N-Ship services.

All packages that are not eligible for drop box deposit must be brought directly to a USPS employee at a Post Office facility to ensure the proper handling of the international shipment.

Compliance with Destination Country Laws

Adherence to USPS regulations, U.S. laws, and the laws of the destination country is a fundamental factor in international shipping. All USPS customers are responsible for complying with these laws. Some countries may return or seize mail containing articles prohibited or restricted within that country. Therefore, accurate, specific item descriptions are crucial for customs compliance.

USPS International Extras: Insurance, Tracking, and Guarantees

USPS International Extras

USPS extends its services by providing additional features for international shipping. These extras, such as insurance, tracking, and guarantees, provide added security and peace of mind during the shipping process. Whether you’re shipping a pricey electronic gadget or a sensitive document, these extras ensure that your package is well-protected throughout its journey.

Enhanced Tracking and Insurance

Let’s examine the advanced tracking and insurance options provided for USPS international shipments more closely. Services like Priority Mail Express International come with the following features:

  • Tracking capabilities that can be accessed through the USPS Tracking page or by contacting USPS directly
  • Insurance up to $100 for non-negotiable document reconstruction
  • Insurance up to $200 for merchandise loss, damage, or missing contents

These features are included at no additional cost with Priority Mail Express International.

Date-Certain Delivery and Money-Back Guarantee

Another perk of USPS international shipping is its date-certain delivery and money-back guarantee options. USPS Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service offers international shipments with next-day delivery to many locations in Canada and services to about 180 countries. A money-back guarantee is available if they don’t meet the promised delivery date, ensuring peace of mind for both the sender and receiver.

Special Considerations for Unique Shipments

Now, it’s time to address specific considerations for distinctive shipments. These pertain to particular categories of mail, such as military and diplomatic mail or bulk shipments of printed materials. Each of these categories has specific requirements and stipulations that need to be adhered to for successful international shipping, including following military mail guidelines.

Military and Diplomatic Mail

Shipping to APO/FPO/DPO addresses requires due diligence. The shipment must include the following information:

  • Recipient’s name
  • Rank
  • Unit
  • Full 9-digit ZIP Code (without the inclusion of city or country names) to prevent mail from entering foreign mail networks.

A customs declaration is required for all military mail sent to APO/FPO/DPO addresses that reaches the maximum weight of 16 oz or more or contains goods.

Sending Printed Materials and Bulk Shipments

For bulk shipments of printed matter, M-bags are your best friend. They cater to bulk shipments of printed matter such as books and advertising materials to a single international addressee. The delivery times for M-bags vary by destination and typically range from 6 to 10 business days when sent via Priority Mail International.

Maximizing Benefits with USPS Business Solutions

For businesses engaging in international shipping, USPS presents an array of options. These include Priority Mail International and Priority Mail Express International, complete with USPS Tracking for fast delivery. Businesses can also benefit from discounted postage rates when they pay for USPS international shipping with a Permit Imprint.

E-commerce Shipping Strategies

By lowering package weight, e-commerce businesses can achieve substantial savings on international shipping costs. The appropriate shipping service should also be chosen based on delivery speed, cost, and the specific nature of the products being shipped.

Accessing Commercial Discounts

Businesses have multiple channels to access commercial discounts for USPS international shipping. For instance, businesses spending $100,000 or more annually on USPS international shipping services may be eligible for Commercial Plus® pricing, providing substantial discounts on shipping rates.

Other Methods of Shipping Products:


In conclusion, USPS international shipping offers a broad spectrum of services, each catering to unique shipping needs. Whether it’s the service selection, cost estimation, package preparation, or understanding customs forms and regulations, each step plays a critical role in ensuring a smooth international shipping process. With extras like insurance, tracking, and guarantees, USPS ensures added security and peace of mind. Particularly for businesses and unique shipments like military mail, USPS offers tailored solutions and benefits. Remember, the key to successful international shipping lies in meticulous preparation, understanding the process, and leveraging the resources at hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does USPS charge to ship international?

USPS offers a range of international shipping options. Priority Mail Express International starts at $45.95, while USPS Priority Mail International Flat Rate starts at just $27.10, offering cost-effective choices for sending packages abroad.

Is USPS still shipping internationally?

Yes, USPS is still shipping internationally through Priority Mail International, connecting to around 180-190 countries, providing reliable and affordable service.

What is the cheapest way to ship internationally?

The cheapest way to ship internationally is through First-Class Mail International, which offers affordable rates for sending letters, large envelopes, and parcels weighing less than 4.4 lbs to over 180 countries. Keep in mind that this option may not provide an estimated time of arrival, so delivery may take a couple of weeks.

How long does USPS take to deliver internationally?

USPS international delivery times can vary, but typically letters and parcels are delivered within one to three weeks, while International Priority Mail takes around six to ten days.

What are the different USPS international services available?

You can choose from USPS international services such as Priority Mail International, Priority Mail Express International, and First-Class Mail International when shipping abroad. These options cater to various shipping needs, providing flexibility and choices for international shipments.

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Peter is a digital nomad who largely writes from Asia, Europe, and South America. Always following the "vibe," he sets up shop in hostels and AirBNB's and continues to entertain us with wild stories from life abroad. Ask him anything in our community forum.

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