Shopify International Shipping: Expand Your Business Globally

Shopify International Shipping


In today’s interconnected world, the opportunity to sell your products beyond borders has never been more accessible. You may deliver your goods to customers anywhere in the world with ease if you take the correct approach and comprehend international shipping.

Shopify’s international shipping capabilities empower entrepreneurs like you to break geographical barriers and tap into a global customer base.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the key aspects of Shopify international shipping, including setting up international shipping rates, navigating customs and duties, and ensuring a smooth delivery experience for your customers.

We’ll also discuss strategies to optimize your shipping processes and provide excellent customer service across different geographical locations.

So, get ready to expand your reach, connect with customers globally, and propel your business toward greater success in the global marketplace.

What is International Shipping?

International shipping is the transportation of products across international borders.

This involves a complex system of trade routes, regulatory requirements, and logistical arrangements to ensure that products, commodities, or parcels reach their destination safely and efficiently.

International shipping is a crucial aspect of global commerce and supports a vast number of industries worldwide. It allows businesses to reach out to a larger customer base beyond their domestic markets.

Challenges of International Shipping

There are a number of challenges that come with Shopify international shipping. Some of the most common challenges include:

1. High Shipping Costs

High shipping costs constitute one of the primary challenges of international shipping. These costs are influenced by a multitude of factors including distance, parcel weight and size, and the selected shipping method.

Moreover, additional charges such as customs duties, import taxes, and insurance further inflate the overall cost. These expenses can significantly impact the final price of the product for the customer and potentially discourage international purchases.

For the business, high shipping costs can narrow profit margins and make global expansion less financially viable. Balancing these costs while maintaining competitive pricing and profitability is a complex task for businesses engaged in international shipping.

High Shipping Costs

2. Customs & Duties

Every country has its own set of rules, regulations, and tariffs for imported goods. Businesses must navigate these complex and often varying customs laws to ensure their goods are compliant.

Failure to accurately declare goods can result in fines, delays, or seizure of goods by customs officials. The unpredictability of customs charges and taxes might sometimes result in unexpected costs for both the customer and the business.

If not handled effectively, these extra expenses may result in unhappy customers who are asked to pay more when the items are delivered.

Customs & Duties

3. Shipping Delays

Distance between the origin and destination, customs clearance procedures, and potential logistical challenges along the shipping route, such as weather conditions or transportation interruptions, can all affect how long it takes to transfer products across borders.

Moreover, international shipments often pass through multiple hands, increasing the chance for delays. These delays can lead to customer dissatisfaction and negatively impact the reputation of a business, as customers expect timely deliveries.

Proactively managing and communicating about potential delays is crucial for businesses to maintain positive customer relationships in the context of international shipping.

Shipping Delays

4. Language Barriers

When dealing with customers, customs officials, or logistics providers from different countries, communication can be complex due to language differences.

Miscommunication or misunderstanding can lead to errors in address information, customs documentation, or product descriptions, potentially resulting in shipment delays, lost packages, or unhappy customers.

Additionally, if a company’s website, customer support, or product information is not available in the customer’s language, it may cause confusion and lower customer satisfaction.

Thus, overcoming language barriers is vital for a smooth and efficient international shipping process.

Language Barriers

How to Set Up International Shipping on Shopify?

Here are the steps on how to set up international shipping on Shopify:

Create Shipping Zones

A shipping zone is a group of countries or regions that share the same shipping rates. To create a shipping zone, follow the below-mentioned steps:

Step 1: Go to Settings > Shipping and Delivery.

Shopify Shipping and Delivery

Step 2: Next, click on Manage under General shipping rates.

Shopify General Shipping Manage

Step 3: In the Shipping Zones section, click Create Zone.

Shopify Create Shipping Zone

Step 4: Enter a name for the zone and select the countries or regions that you want to include in the zone.

Shopify Create New Shipping Zone

Add Shipping Rates

Once you have created shipping zones, you can add shipping rates.

To add a shipping rate, follow the below-mentioned steps:

Step 1: Go to Settings > Shipping and Delivery.

Shopify Shipping and Delivery

Step 2: Next, click on Manage under General shipping rates.

Shopify General Shipping Manage

Step 3: Under the Shipping zones section, select the zone to which you wish to add the rate to. Next, click Add Rate.

Shopify Shipping Add Rate (1)

Step 4: Enter a name for the rate and the shipping cost.

Shopify Shipping Add Rate (2)

Tips for Managing International Shipping on Shopify

Managing international shipping on Shopify can be a complex task, but here are some tips that might help streamline the process:

1. Use Carrier-Calculated Rates

Using carrier-calculated rates is a helpful strategy for managing international shipping on Shopify.

This feature allows you to automatically display accurate shipping costs at checkout, which are directly provided by your shipping carrier based on factors like package weight, dimensions, shipping method, and destination.

Instead of manually determining the cost for each shipping zone and updating it regularly, carrier-calculated rates dynamically adjust to the specifics of the order and current rates offered by the carrier.

This not only saves time but also provides a more precise shipping rate, which helps to prevent undercharging or overcharging customers.

Carrier-Calculated Rates

2. Consider Using a Fulfillment Service

Consider using a fulfillment service when managing international shipping on Shopify.

Your products can be stored, packaged, and sent using fulfillment services like Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) or Shopify Fulfilment Network, even for international orders. If you lack the resources or infrastructure to handle foreign fulfillment on your own, this can be extremely helpful.

By leveraging the expertise and global network of a fulfillment service, you can streamline your shipping operations, ensure faster delivery times, and potentially reduce costs. These services often have experience with international shipping regulations, and customs procedures, and can handle duties and taxes, saving you time and effort.

It allows you to focus on other aspects of your business while leaving the complexities of international fulfillment to the experts.

Order Fulfillment Service

3. Automate Customs Documentation

Automating customs documentation is a valuable tip for managing international shipping on Shopify.

Customs documentation includes forms such as commercial invoices, customs declarations, and certificates of origin, which are necessary for smooth customs clearance. By using apps integrated with your Shopify store, you can automate the generation of these documents based on the order details, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors.

Automating customs documentation not only saves time but also helps ensure compliance with customs regulations, minimizing the chances of shipment delays or additional charges.

Custom Documentation

4. Communicate Clearly with Customers

Communicating clearly with customers is crucial when managing international shipping on Shopify.

Clearly outline shipping costs, delivery times, and any potential customs duties or taxes that customers may incur. In your store, make sure to clearly display this information, preferably on the product pages or throughout the checkout procedure.

Use language that is easily understood by your international customers and consider translating important information into different languages if you cater to a global audience.

Clear communication helps set proper expectations, reduces customer confusion, and enhances their overall shopping experience, which can lead to customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Communicate with Customers

5. Offer Tracking

Providing customers with tracking information allows them to monitor the progress of their packages and provides a sense of transparency and reliability. It helps build trust and customer satisfaction by keeping them informed about the status of their orders and reducing concerns about lost or delayed shipments.

Offering tracking also enables you to proactively address any potential issues that may arise during transit, allowing for better customer support and problem-solving.

By utilizing carriers or third-party apps that offer tracking services, you can enhance the overall customer experience and ensure a smoother international shipping process.

Offer Tracking

6. Have a Clear Returns Policy

International returns can be more complicated and costly than domestic returns due to factors such as higher shipping costs, customs regulations, and potential language barriers.

You may help customers understand the procedure and conditions for returning a product by presenting them with a clear and thorough returns policy. Clearly communicate details such as the timeframe for returns, who is responsible for return shipping costs, any restocking fees, and how refunds or exchanges will be processed.

This transparency helps build trust with your international customers and contributes to a smoother and more satisfying post-purchase experience.

Returns Policy

7. Stay Updated with Laws & Regulations

Customs laws, import/export rules, and shipping specifications might differ greatly between countries. It’s essential to stay informed about any changes or updates in these regulations to ensure compliance and avoid any legal issues.

Keep track of trade agreements, tariffs, restricted items, and labeling requirements that may impact your international shipments. Regularly consult reliable sources, and government websites, or seek advice from customs brokers or trade experts to ensure that your shipping practices align with the latest laws and regulations.

By staying updated, you can navigate international shipping smoothly and minimize the risk of delays, fines, or other complications.

Shipping Laws & Regulations

Navigating Customs, Duties, and Taxes

It’s important for businesses engaged in international shipping to understand the customs processes, duties, and taxes applicable to their shipments. They should accurately declare the contents and value of their goods, ensure compliance with customs regulations, and be prepared to handle the payment of duties and taxes.

Handling customs, duties, and taxes costs and effectively communicating them to customers is crucial for a smooth international shipping experience.

Here are some tips to help you manage these aspects:

  • Research & Understand Costs: Thoroughly research and understand the customs duties, taxes, and fees associated with your products and the countries you ship to. Familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and calculations to accurately estimate these costs.
  • Transparently Display Information: Clearly communicate to customers that they may be responsible for paying customs duties, taxes, or other fees associated with their orders. Display this information prominently on your website, particularly on product pages, cart pages, and during the checkout process. Providing upfront transparency will help manage customer expectations.
  • Educate Customers: Include educational resources or FAQs on your website that explain customs processes, duties, and taxes in simple terms. Help customers understand why these costs exist and how they are determined, as well as any potential benefits such as trade agreements or duty-free thresholds that may apply.
  • Provide Duty & Tax Estimators: Utilize duty and tax estimation tools or third-party apps that can provide customers with an estimated breakdown of the additional costs they may incur. These tools can help customers make informed decisions and minimize surprises upon delivery.
  • Consider Inclusive Pricing: Evaluate whether it’s feasible for your business to include customs duties and taxes in the product price upfront. It allows you to provide a seamless experience for customers by offering all-inclusive pricing, eliminating the need for additional payments upon delivery. However, be mindful of your profit margins and competitive pricing.
  • Offer Clear Shipping & Returns Policies: Clearly outline your shipping and returns policies, specifically addressing how customs duties, taxes, and fees will be handled in the event of returns or exchanges. This helps manage customer expectations and avoids confusion or disputes.

Tips to Provide Excellent Customer Service for International Customers

Providing excellent customer service for international customers is essential for building trust, fostering loyalty, and ensuring a positive experience.

Here are some tips to enhance your customer service for international customers:

  • Multilingual Support: If possible, offer customer support in multiple languages. This can be through live chat, email, or phone. Consider hiring bilingual staff or utilizing translation services to effectively communicate with customers who may not be fluent in your primary language.
  • Shipping & Delivery Information: Clearly communicate shipping options, estimated delivery times, and any potential customs duties or taxes customers may encounter. Provide tracking information and updates to keep customers informed about the progress of their shipments.
  • Flexible Payment Options: Offer a variety of payment methods that are commonly used in the countries you serve. Consider accepting international credit cards, digital payment platforms, or alternative payment methods popular in specific regions.
  • Clear & Responsive Communication: Ensure your communication is clear, concise, and prompt. Be proactive in addressing customer inquiries, concerns, or issues. Provide timely updates on order status, shipping, and any potential delays or complications that may arise.
  • Knowledge of Customs & Regulations: Stay informed about customs procedures, import/export regulations, and any specific requirements for different countries. This knowledge will help you address customer inquiries related to customs duties, prohibited items, or shipping restrictions.


Expanding your Shopify store’s reach through international shipping may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it becomes an exciting opportunity for business growth.

You can now navigate the world of Shopify international shipping with the information and instructions we’ve given you throughout this blog post.

By adopting these strategies and staying attentive to your customers’ needs, you can build trust, foster loyalty, and drive revenue growth from international markets.

If you need technical guidance in getting started with international shipping, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

What’s Next?

If you are looking for a guide for setting up shipping on Shopify from scratch, check out our blog!

How to Set Up Free Shipping on Shopify?

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