How Long Does International Shipping Take? What to Expect

How Long Does International Shipping Take? What to Expect

If your eCommerce business is on the fast track to reaching new global markets, you may consider offering international shipping. Expanding your target market across new global horizons presents many lucrative opportunities for your business to facilitate sales outside your local country. However, the logistical aspects of international shipping can be complex. Between familiarizing yourself with customs regulations, estimating transit  times, and selecting a global shipping provider, you may start to wonder: How long does international shipping take? 

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, having a rough estimate of shipping times is crucial to meet consumer demands and determine your cost of goods. This blog will discuss average international shipping times, what impacts shipping speed, and how to find a reputable partner to ensure timely and compliant delivery. 

What impacts shipping speed? 

Many variables can affect the estimated transit time of a shipment traveling across borders. Below, we’ve outlined essential shipping considerations that could impact travel times when sending goods internationally. 

Customs Clearance 

The customs process varies from country to country, but the common denominator is that the process can be time-consuming if not appropriately addressed. Obtaining customs clearance involves customs agents collecting various customs forms, like a commercial invoice, customs declaration, and certificate of origin. Further, agents will inspect the goods for prohibited materials, check labeling, and collect import duties and tariffs. If items are not appropriately declared or are classified using improper coding, a package could be held until the correct information is filed or seized if restricted. Additionally, if any customs fees or tariffs are left unpaid, that could also be grounds for holding shipments until the applicable payments are received or returned after a set number of days. Ensuring accurate and timely customs documentation is essential to avoid delays at ports of entry. Working with a customs broker or shipping provider with international expertise can help shippers streamline this process, enhancing deliverability and customer satisfaction.

Restricted Items

Each country sets its own laws and regulations regarding restricted or prohibited items that can safely and lawfully cross its borders. Some restricted goods include firearms, tobacco, and alcohol. Staying knowledgeable about restricted items and regulatory changes when shipping to a foreign country can prevent delays and help you avoid seized packages getting returned to their country of origin or destroyed.

Proper Addressing and Labeling

Certain countries have specific requirements regarding address formatting and shipping labels. For example, when shipping beauty products to Australia, cosmetic labels must include ingredient information on the product, and must disclose if any of the ingredients are hazardous or flammable. Ensuring correct postage, name, and address is also critical in preventing delays to safeguard timely deliveries. 

Weather Delays

Certain weather conditions like snow, ice, rain, or fog can impact transportation methods, delaying flights and closing roads and railways. Weather-related delays can greatly impact delivery speed, resulting in carriers having to reroute a shipment or reschedule it altogether. 


It’s important to factor in holiday closures when planning an international shipment, as many post offices will not collect or deliver mail on these days. Traditional shipping providers are closed for federal holidays like Veterans and Memorial Day and holidays like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. In the UK, different jurisdictions observe holidays differently. For example, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England do not collect or deliver mail on Good Friday; however, in Scotland, domestic shipping may proceed as normal. It’s essential to plan your shipping schedule in advance and get packages out in a sufficient time frame to avoid delays caused by holiday closures

Mailing Provider

Different couriers offer various shipping options with estimated delivery times. While it may be tempting to choose a courier that provides the fastest and cheapest delivery times, there are other variables to consider to ensure your package is delivered on time and intact to ensure success. Factors like years of international expertise, reputation of past on-time deliveries, quality control, and having a team of customer service experts to help customers in need can mean the difference between a quality shipping partner and one who rushes your packages while risking damages and delays. 

When selecting a shipping provider for your eCommerce business, it’s crucial to ensure that your partner meets all your business needs while also providing guidance on proper shipping policies to avoid shipping mistakes that could delay deliveries. 

Average shipping times: How long does international shipping take? 

Depending on the nature of your goods, international shipments can take anywhere from 2-3 days to 2-3 weeks or longer. A general rule of thumb is the further the destination, the longer it will take your international packages to get there and the higher the shipping costs will be. Since there is no immediate answer for how long international shipping can take, considering the above factors along with the quantity, weight, and size of your packages, can help you determine an estimated delivery speed. 

Below, we’ve outlined international shipping speeds to help you better understand what most couriers offer when shipping across the globe. 

  • Standard: Standard shipping is  the most cost-efficient option and takes anywhere from 5 business days to longer. This option is a no-rush choice. Customers selecting this option are looking for a cost-effective way to receive goods across the country and are willing to wait for their items to arrive. 
  • Priority: Priority shipping is a reliable and time-sensitive option for shipping internationally, offering faster delivery times compared to standard shipping methods. This option is the middle-ground between a no-rush or rush shipping option, resulting in additional costs but more immediate delivery than standard. 
  • Express: Express shipping is the fastest and most time-efficient option, enabling shipments to arrive within 1-3 days, 3 -5 days, or overnight. Express international shipping rates typically come at a higher cost than standard shipping and may require shipping insurance to protect high-value items during transit. 

Other factors to consider are whether your package is traveling via air or ground.

  • Air freight: Air travel is often used for expedited deliveries and comes with additional regulations and higher costs. 
  • Ground: Ground travel is a cost-effective solution primarily used for deliveries to neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico using trucks. 

Air travel is significantly faster than ground and is often selected for high-value, time-sensitive items. However, ground travel is more cost-effective and is an appealing option for shipments that do not require rush delivery. Working with an experienced shipping provider or freight forwarder can help you determine the best course of action for your international orders. 

Working with an experienced provider to expedite delivery times with caution and care

When considering variables like the customs process, weather delays, and delivery options, it’s no wonder many businesses are wondering how long the international shipping process could take. But in today’s competitive market, consumers have come to expect fast international shipping and at a cost they can afford, leaving your business in a position to offer international shipping to stay relevant competitively. Luckily, when you partner with ePost Global, you don’t have to tackle the complex process alone. 

Unlike other shipping companies that offer express international delivery options, we take the time to get to know your business to determine the best shipping options to present to you to get your items to their destination country quickly and compliantly, without unexpected delays or costs. We offer an array of international shipping services to help our clients not only ship their items in a timely manner that works with their manufacturer and budget but also do so compliantly to help your business enter new global markets with ease. 

When you partner with ePost Global, you receive the following: 

Comprehensive Tracking Solutions

International delivery times can be hard to predict; luckily, innovative technological advances like package tracking have revolutionized how mail couriers operate, allowing customers to track exactly where their package is and an estimated time of when the package will get there. Tracking services also provide businesses with up-to-date information in real-time regarding the status of their shipment. 

At ePost Global, we offer transparent tracking solutions so your customers can monitor their package location across the globe in real-time. Tracking also enables our team to identify potential delays due to weather-related disruptions or customs clearance delays to provide reassurance of when the package may arrive. This innovation builds trust with customers, allowing them to feel at ease knowing their package will arrive at a scheduled time, allowing them to plan accordingly or receive notification of its delay before expressing concerns. 

Realistic Timeframes

Upon hearing about your business, we look for ways to optimize your packaging and traveling method to help your shipment arrive at its destination in record time. Our shipping options include priority mail international, air first class, and even Canada-direct with transparent tracking capabilities. 

Quality Customer Care 

As important as it is to understand accurate shipping times, it’s just as important to have a customer service plan of action for when unforeseen conditions impact delivery speed to help address customer needs with the utmost care and empathy. A dedicated customer care team can identify potential issues and take steps to prevent them, reducing the likelihood of delays or complications. At ePost Global, our team of knowledgeable and experienced customer service experts are at your disposal, so you’ll never have a question unanswered or wonder why your shipment is delayed with a qualified professional there to help you. 

So, how long does international shipping take?

There is no single answer, but by working with an experienced shipping partner with international expertise, you can get one step closer to understanding the average shipping times for your goods.  By partnering with a proven shipping carrier like ePost Global, eCommerce businesses can expedite the customs clearance process, determine realistic transit times, and plan for weather-related disruptions, and other factors that may impact shipping timelines.

If you’re ready to expand your business internationally, we’ll help you meet all your shipping needs, from determining what shipping speed works for your cargo to gathering customs documents to ensuring on-time arrival to achieve a quality and reliable shipping process, whether shipping to Canada, United Kingdom, Australia,  Europe, Asia, or beyond. 

Ready to get started? Contact us today

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