What is an International Shipping Label – A Complete Guide

international shipping label

Share This Post

As global commerce continues to expand, the pivotal role of international shipping in connecting markets and driving economic growth becomes increasingly evident. In November 2023, the World Trade Organisation’s Goods Trade Barometer, a key indicator of world trade trends, recorded a reading of 100.7. This figure, surpassing the baseline value of 100, signals a gradual resurgence in the merchandise trade volume, reflecting a robust recovery in global commerce.

Supporting this trend, a study by Statista reveals that in 2022, the volume of global parcel shipping reached an impressive 161 billion parcels. This number is projected to soar to 256 billion by 2027, marking a compound annual growth rate of 59 per cent. This rapid growth, more than tripling in volume over the past seven years, is largely attributed to the explosive expansion of the e-commerce sector.

International shipping labels have become indispensable for retailers and e-commerce businesses in this dynamic and ever-evolving landscape. Far more than just a means to identify packages, these labels are crucial for the efficient and compliant movement of goods across international borders. They serve as a key to navigating the complex web of global trade regulations and ensuring that shipments reach their destinations without unnecessary delays or legal complications.

Therefore, mastering the nuances of international shipping labels is not merely about operational efficiency; it is a critical requirement for regulatory compliance and seamless global logistics. 

This article delves deep into international shipping labels, offering a comprehensive and insightful overview tailored for both seasoned and novice shippers alike. We aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the intricacies of international shipping, ensuring your products reach customers worldwide with ease and reliability.

So, without further ado, let’s get started! 

To learn about shipping labels in general, please refer to our guide: What is a Shipping Label?

What are International Shipping Labels?

What do you mean by international shipping label

An international shipping label is a printed paper or sticker attached to a package sent abroad. It contains all the information required for the shipment to be transported, processed, and delivered to its international destination. It serves as the primary identifier for the package throughout its journey, ensuring that logistical and customs authorities can efficiently handle and track the shipment across borders. 

The primary function of an international shipping label is to streamline the shipping process by providing essential information such as the sender’s and recipient’s details, package contents, and destination. This information is vital for carriers and customs officials to process the shipment correctly and ensure it complies with international shipping regulations.

International Shipping Labels vs Domestic Shipping Labels - The Differences

The key differences between international and domestic shipping labels lie in their detail and regulatory compliance:

  • Customs Information: International labels must include detailed customs information, such as the nature and value of the goods being shipped and the country of origin. This information is essential for customs clearance and determining applicable duties and taxes.
  • Regulatory Compliance: International shipments are subject to various regulations that differ from country to country. International shipping labels must adhere to these regulations, including specific labelling requirements, language preferences, and adherence to international shipping agreements.
  • Tracking and Security: Given the longer distances and multiple handling points, international labels often feature enhanced tracking and security measures, such as barcodes or QR codes, which are scanned at various stages to update the package’s status and location.
  • Language and Formatting: Depending on the destination, international shipping labels may need to include multiple languages or adhere to specific formatting guidelines, which are not typically a concern for domestic labels.

Why are International Shipping Labels Important?

Four reasons why are International Shipping Labels important

International shipping labels are crucial in the global logistics network, serving as the linchpin for efficient and compliant international trade. Their importance cannot be overstated, as they ensure the smooth transit of goods across diverse geographic, regulatory, and logistical landscapes. Here are the key reasons why international shipping labels are vital:

Ensuring Efficient Delivery

The primary purpose of an international shipping label is to facilitate the efficient delivery of goods to their intended destination. The detailed information on these labels, including the destination address, package contents, and tracking number, helps carriers to route packages accurately and efficiently. The risk of misdelivery, delays, or loss increases significantly without this information.

Compliance with International Regulations

International shipping involves navigating complex customs regulations that vary from country to country. Shipping labels must include specific information required by customs authorities, such as the nature and value of the contents and the country of origin. This information is crucial for customs clearance, helping to avoid delays, fines, or seizure of goods for non-compliance.

Tracking and Accountability

International shipping labels come with tracking capabilities, usually in the form of barcodes or QR codes. These enable both the sender and recipient to track the package’s journey, providing transparency and peace of mind. This tracking is essential for accountability, especially in cases of delays, damage, or loss.

Facilitating Communication

The shipping label acts as a communication tool between all parties involved in the shipping process – senders, carriers, customs officials, and recipients. It provides a concise summary of the package’s contents, where it’s going, and how it should be handled. This communication is essential for handling instructions, especially for fragile, hazardous, or temperature-sensitive goods.

Understanding GHS (Globally Harmonised System) labelling is crucial for those involved in shipping hazardous substances like chemicals. GHS labelling ensures that hazardous materials are clearly identified and handled appropriately during shipping. To gain a deeper understanding of GHS labelling requirements and best practices, you might find the following guides from our collection particularly useful:

  • GHS Label Requirements: A comprehensive guide detailing the essential requirements for GHS labels, ensuring your shipments meet global safety standards.
  • GHS Signal Word: This guide explains the importance of signal words in GHS labelling, helping you effectively communicate the hazard level.
  • GHS Hazard Statements: Dive into the specifics of hazard statements, a critical component of GHS labels for conveying the nature and degree of hazard.
  • Hazard Signs: Learn about various hazard signs and their significance in the context of GHS and overall safety in shipping hazardous materials.

Anatomy of International Shipping Labels

Detailed anatomy of International Shipping Labels

Understanding the anatomy of international shipping labels is crucial for anyone involved in global trade. These labels are meticulously designed to contain all the necessary information required for the smooth transit of goods across international borders. 

Here’s a breakdown of the critical components typically found on an international shipping label:

Sender and Recipient Information

  • Sender’s Name and Address: Clearly identifies the origin of the package.
  • Recipient’s Name and Address: Essential for ensuring the package reaches the correct destination.

Package Information

  • Weight and Dimensions: Used to calculate shipping costs and for logistical handling.
  • Package Contents Description: A brief but clear description of the items inside for customs purposes.

Tracking and Identification

  • Tracking Number: A unique identifier that allows both sender and recipient to track the package’s journey.
  • Barcode/QR Code: Scanned at various points for real-time tracking and updates.

To delve deeper into the world of barcoding technology, the following guides offer detailed insights and are an excellent resource for both beginners and seasoned professionals:


Visit our Barcode Learning Centre for other articles related to barcodes.  

Customs and Regulatory Information

  • Customs Declaration: A detailed list of the package’s contents, including value and country of origin.
  • Harmonized System (HS) Codes: International nomenclature for the classification of products, aiding customs in identifying the type of product being shipped.

Special Handling Instructions

  • Fragile, Perishable, or Hazardous Material Indicators: Symbols or instructions for special care if the contents are delicate or require specific handling conditions.

Carrier and Route Information

  • Carrier Name: The shipping company responsible for transportation.
  • Freight Class: Indicates the classification of the cargo based on its size, weight, and handling requirements. This classification is crucial for determining shipping rates and methods.
  • Route Information: May include transit points, especially for multi-leg journeys.

Additional Elements

  • Date of Shipment: Indicates when the package was dispatched.
  • Return Instructions: In case the package cannot be delivered.

Each element on an international shipping label plays a specific role in ensuring that the package is handled correctly, complies with international shipping regulations, and reaches its destination efficiently. Misinformation or omission of any of these details can lead to delays, additional costs, or even the loss of the package. 

Therefore, a thorough understanding and accurate completion of international shipping labels are indispensable for successful global shipping operations.

How to Fill Out International Shipping Labels?

Six steps on how to fill out international shipping labels

Filling out international shipping labels correctly ensures that your shipments reach their destinations without delays or complications. This process involves providing detailed and accurate information that meets both carrier and international customs requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fill out these labels effectively:

Step 1: Sender and Recipient Information

  • Sender’s Details: Include the sender’s full name, address, and contact information. Ensure this information is accurate and matches the details on your shipping account or invoice.
  • Recipient’s Details: Provide the recipient’s full name, address, and contact information. Double-check for accuracy, especially the postal code and country.

When writing addresses, always write in block letters and avoid using punctuation. For instance, write “456 Market Blvd, Unit 789” instead of “456 Market Blvd., Unit 789.” If the address line is lengthy, use standard abbreviations, like CA” for “California”, instead of spelling it out.  

Step 2: Package Information

  • Weight and Dimensions: Accurately measure and record the weight and dimensions of the package. This is crucial for determining shipping costs and for carriers to handle the package appropriately.
  • Contents Description: Clearly describe the contents of the package. Be specific and truthful, as this information is used for customs purposes. For example, instead of writing “electronics,” specify “2 wireless earbuds, Bluetooth” or “1 digital wristwatch, waterproof.” 

Step 3: Customs Declaration

  • Value and Origin: Declare the value of the shipped items and their country of origin. Under-declaring the value or misstating the origin can lead to penalties.
  • HS Codes: Include the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) codes for your items. These codes help customs authorities identify the products and apply the correct tariffs.
  • Additional Information: Include any relevant warranties or certifications pertinent to the items being shipped, especially for electronics or specialised goods.

Step 4: Additional Information

  • Special Handling Instructions: If the package contains fragile, perishable, or hazardous materials, clearly mark this on the label and include any necessary handling instructions. For example, “Handle with care – fragile” or “Keep upright – contain liquids.”
  • Return Instructions: Provide instructions for the carrier if the package cannot be delivered.

Step 5: Review and Attach the Label

  • Review: Before printing, thoroughly review all the information on the label for accuracy.
  • Attachment: Print the label on durable, adhesive paper. Attach it to the largest side of the package, ensuring it’s fully visible and secure.

Step 6: Supporting Documentation

  • Include Necessary Documents: Attach any required documents, such as commercial invoices or certificates of origin, in a visible and secure pouch on the package.

To further enhance your knowledge on filling and writing shipping labels, please refer to our guide – How to Write a Shipping Label? 

How Does International Shipping Work?

Understanding how international shipping works is crucial for businesses and individuals involved in global trade. The process involves several steps, from the initial dispatch of a package to its final delivery, with the international shipping label playing a central role at each stage. Here’s an overview of how international shipping operates:

Step 1: Label Creation and Package Dispatch

  • Label Creation: The sender fills out an international shipping label, providing all necessary details like sender and recipient information, package contents, and customs declarations.
  • Package Dispatch: Once the label is attached, the package is dispatched, either dropped off at a shipping carrier’s facility or picked up by the carrier.

Step 2: Initial Processing and Transit

  • Carrier Processing: The shipping carrier processes the package at their facility. The information on the shipping label, including barcodes or QR codes, is scanned and entered into the carrier’s tracking system.
  • Export Clearance: Before leaving the origin country, the package undergoes export clearance. Customs officials review the shipping label and any accompanying export documentation to ensure compliance with export regulations.
  • Transit: The package is then routed based on the destination information on the label. This may involve transportation via air, sea, or land and potentially through various transit hubs.

Step 3: Customs Clearance

  • Customs Inspection: Upon arrival in the destination country, the package undergoes customs inspection. The customs officials review the shipping label and accompanying documents to assess duties and taxes and ensure compliance with local regulations.
  • Clearance and Duties: If everything is in order, the package is cleared. Any applicable duties and taxes, as indicated by the label’s customs information, are calculated and charged.

Step 4: Final Delivery

  • In-Country Transit: After clearing customs, the package is handed over to a local carrier (if different from the initial carrier) and transported to the final delivery address.
  • Delivery to Recipient: The package is delivered to the recipient’s address as specified on the shipping label. The tracking system updates the delivery status, often accessible online by both the sender and recipient.

The Central Role of the Shipping Label

Throughout this process, the international shipping label serves as a critical guide. It ensures the package is correctly routed, complies with international and local regulations, and provides tracking and transparency for both the sender and recipient. Errors or inaccuracies in the shipping label can lead to delays, misrouting, or additional charges, highlighting the importance of accurate and complete label information.

In summary, international shipping is a complex process involving multiple stages and entities, with the shipping label serving as the vital source of information and instruction throughout. Understanding this process helps in effectively managing international shipments and avoiding common pitfalls.

How to Create an International Shipping Label? - A Generic Process

Eight steps on how to create an International Shipping Label

Creating an international shipping label is a critical step in preparing your package for global transit. It involves a series of steps to ensure that all necessary information is accurately captured. 

Below is a generic guide that will walk you through the process of creating an international shipping label, ensuring your package is ready for a smooth journey to its international destination. 

Refer to our dedicated guide – How to Make Shipping Labels, for a detailed overview. 

Step 1: Choose a Shipping Carrier

  • Select a Carrier: Begin by choosing a carrier that offers international shipping services, such as FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, or other global shipping companies.
  • Carrier-Specific Requirements: Each carrier may have specific requirements or formats for their shipping labels, so it’s essential to familiarise yourself with these.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Information

  • Sender and Recipient Details: Have the sender’s and recipient’s full names, addresses, and contact information.
  • Package Details: Know the weight, dimensions, and contents of your package.

Step 3: Use Online Tools or Software

  • Carrier’s Online Tools: Most carriers offer online tools or software where you can input your shipment details and print the shipping label.
  • Shipping Software: Alternatively, use third-party shipping software such as BarTender Software to generate labels for multiple carriers.

Step 4: Fill Out the Label Accurately

  • Enter All Required Information: Input the sender and recipient details, package details, HS code and any additional required information accurately.
  • Customs Declaration: For international shipments, you’ll need to complete a customs declaration form, often integrated into the label creation process in online tools.

Step 5: Review and Print the Label

  • Double-Check Information: Review all the information for accuracy. Errors can lead to delays or delivery issues.
  • Print the Label: Print the label on high-quality, adhesive shipping label paper. If you don’t have label paper, print on standard paper and use a plastic sleeve or clear tape to attach it securely to the package.

Step 6: Attach the Label Securely

  • Proper Placement: Attach the label to the largest side of the package. Ensure it’s evident and flat against the surface.
  • Secure Attachment: If using standard paper, cover the entire label with clear tape to protect it from moisture and handling, but avoid covering the barcode.

Step 7: Include Any Additional Documentation

  • Customs Documents: Attach any required customs documents in a visible and secure pouch on the package.

Step 8: Dispatch the Package

  • Carrier Drop-off or Pickup: Finally, take your package to a carrier drop-off location or schedule a pickup.

Following these steps, you can create an international shipping label that meets all necessary requirements, ensuring your package is well-prepared for its journey abroad. Remember, the accuracy and completeness of your shipping label are crucial for a hassle-free international shipping experience.

In the next section, we will learn how to create international shipping labels using dedicated shipping services.

How to Create an International Label on FedEx?

FedEx, a leading global courier service, offers convenient and user-friendly solutions for creating international shipping labels, catering to various shipping needs. 

Here’s an overview of the tools and services provided by FedEx for international shipping:

FedEx Shipping Tools

  • FedEx Ship Manager Lite: This tool is designed for simplicity and ease of use, ideal for shipping single envelopes or packages. Key features include:
    • No need for a FedEx account to ship.
    • Ability to email the shipping label to yourself or the recipient.
    • Compatibility with phones, tablets, or laptops for shipping convenience.
    • Best suited for shipping a single envelope or package.
  • FedEx Ship Manager: For more complex shipping needs, this tool offers advanced features to handle a range of international shipments. Its capabilities include:
    • Shipping items with a declared value over $2,500 USD.
    • Handling shipments that require an export licence.
    • Managing dangerous goods, hazardous materials, or restricted items.
    • Suitable for shipping multiple packages or regulated items.

FedEx International Shipping Services

FedEx provides a variety of international shipping services to meet different timeframes and budget requirements:

  • FedEx International Next Flight: Offers the fastest delivery, with shipments placed on the next available flight for delivery within 24 hours to most international destinations.
  • FedEx International First, FedEx International Priority, FedEx International Priority Express: These services ensure delivery within 1 to 3 business days, covering up to 220 countries and territories.
  • FedEx International Economy: An economical option for less urgent shipments, delivering in 2 to 3 business days to select countries or in 2 to 5 days to over 215 countries and territories.
  • FedEx International Ground: Specifically for shipments to Canada, this service ensures delivery to all Canadian businesses and homes in 2 to 7 business days.
  • FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy: These services cater to less-than-truckload (LTL) freight, balancing speed and cost for shipments in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
  • FedEx International Premium and FedEx International Controlled Export (FICE): Tailored for controlled items and dangerous goods, these services handle freight that could pose risks to health, safety, property, or the environment.

How to Create an International Label on UPS?

United Parcel Service (UPS), a global leader in logistics, provides comprehensive solutions for creating international shipping labels, accommodating a wide range of shipping requirements. 

UPS provides an online tool on its website for creating shipping labels. This tool is designed to be user-friendly, guiding users through each step of the label creation process.

UPS International Shipping Services

UPS offers a variety of international shipping services, each tailored to different delivery timeframes and budget requirements:

  • UPS Express Critical: This service provides same-day delivery, which is ideal for urgent shipments.
  • 1-3 Business Day Services:
    • UPS Worldwide Express Plus: Delivery typically by 8:30 or 9:00 a.m.
    • UPS Worldwide Express: Delivery is usually by 10:30 a.m. or noon.
    • UPS Worldwide Express Freight® Midday: Delivery typically by noon or 2:00 p.m.
    • UPS Worldwide Express Freight: Delivery generally by the end of the day.
    • UPS Worldwide Saver: Delivery typically by the end of the day.
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited: A 2-5 business day service, usually delivered by the end of the day.
  • UPS Standard: Standard shipping with day-definite delivery times.
  • UPS Worldwide Economy: UPS’s most economical cross-border option, with delivery in 5-12 business days.

How to Create an International Label on USPS?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a straightforward and efficient process for creating international shipping labels, catering to various needs for sending packages from the US to other countries. Here’s an overview of how to create an international label with USPS and the different services they offer:

Creating an International Shipping Label with USPS

  • Post Office Location: You can bring your package to a USPS Post Office location, where the staff can assist you in creating and printing the necessary shipping label and customs form.
  • Online Customs Form Creation: For added convenience, you can create and print your own customs form online, saving time during the shipping process.
  • Click-N-Ship® Service: This comprehensive online service allows you to buy postage, print labels and customs forms, and even schedule a pickup, all from the comfort of your home or office.

USPS International Shipping Services

USPS offers six different services for international shipping, each tailored to specific needs and destinations:

  • Global Express Guaranteed (GXG): Ideal for urgent items that require delivery within a few days. This service offers date-certain delivery with a money-back guarantee.
  • Priority Mail Express International: Suitable for important items that must arrive in under a week, with a date-certain postage-refund guarantee available for some locations.
  • Priority Mail International: A good choice for packages over 4 lbs, offering Flat Rate pricing or pricing by weight.
  • First-Class Package International Service: Best for packages (or large envelopes) containing items worth less than $400 and weighing less than 4 lbs.
  • First-Class Mail International: Ideal for large envelopes of documents weighing under 15.994 oz.
  • Airmail M-Bags: Perfect for international students in the US needing to send a large quantity of books or other printed materials home.

Service Categories

  • Fastest Delivery: Global Express Guaranteed(GXG) and Priority Mail Express International are designed for the most urgent mail and packages.
  • Affordable Options: Priority Mail International and First-Class Package International Service offer value-priced shipping solutions.
  • Best for Documents or Printed Materials Only: First-Class Mail International and Airmail M-Bags are tailored for sending documents or printed materials in large envelopes or sacks.

USPS uses different types of barcodes for processing shipments. The below guides will help you understand these barcode symbologies. 

  1. What is a POSTNET Barcode?
  2. What is a USPS PLANET Barcode?
  3. What are Intelligent Mail Barcodes? 
  4. POSTNET Vs PLANET Vs Intelligent Mail Barcode

How to Create an International Label on Australia Post?

Australia Post, renowned as Australia’s #1 delivery partner, offers various services to meet various international shipping needs. With the capability to deliver to over 220 countries and territories, Australia Post provides tailored logistics solutions and a choice of delivery speeds. 

Australia Post provides an online tool on its website for creating shipping labels. 

Australia Post International Shipping Services

Australia Post offers several international shipping options, each designed to cater to different requirements:

  • International Economy:
    • Best for non-urgent shipments where speed isn’t the highest priority and tracking isn’t needed.
    •  Suitable for items up to $100 in value, with an option to add extra cover for more valuable items.
    • An optional signature on delivery is available.
  • International Standard:
    • Offers tracked delivery with several optional extras.
    • Includes tracking and is suitable for items up to $100 in value. Extra cover can be added for higher-value items.
    • Optional signature on delivery.
  • International Express:
    • Perfect for urgent shipments requiring speed and reliable tracking.
    • Comes with tracking and signature on delivery.
    • Suitable for items up to $100 in value, with an option for extra cover for added security.
  • International Courier:
    • Australia Post’s premium service, available at over 800 Post Offices.
    • Includes tracking and signature on delivery.
    • Suitable for items up to $100, with the option to add extra cover.

For those who regularly use Australia Post for international shipping, it’s beneficial to refer to our dedicated guide: Guide to Australia Post International Shipping. This guide offers detailed information and tips for effectively using Australia Post’s international services. 

How to Create an International Label on NZ Post?

New Zealand Post (NZ Post) offers a reliable international courier service, making it a popular choice for sending parcels, important letters, and documents from New Zealand to various global destinations. 

NZ Post provides an online tool on its website for creating shipping labels. 

NZ Post International Shipping Services

NZ Post provides different international shipping options, catering to various needs in terms of speed, cost, and destination coverage:

  • International Economy:
    • Delivery within 3-13 working days.
    • Cost-effective for sending parcels and documents overseas to 220 destinations.
    • Optional tracking and signature on delivery for registered documents.
    • Home pickup is available.
    • Cover for loss or damage up to $2,000 NZD.
    • Suitable for items up to 20 kg.
  • International Courier:
    • Delivery within 2-6 working days.
    • A fast and cost-effective solution for sending tracked parcels and documents to 59 destinations.
    • Includes tracking and signature on delivery.
    • Home pickup is available.
    • Cover for loss or damage up to $5,000 NZD.
    • Suitable for documents and parcels up to 30kg and letters up to 1 kg.
  • International Express:
    • Delivery within 1-5 working days.
    • The fastest option for sending parcels and documents to 220 destinations.
    • Includes tracking and signature on delivery.
    • Home pickup is available.
    • Cover for loss or damage up to $10,000 NZD.
    • Suitable for parcels up to 30 kg and letters up to 1 kg.

How to Create an International Label on PayPal?

Creating an international shipping label through PayPal involves a process similar to creating a domestic shipment, with the addition of a customs form. Here’s a brief overview of the steps to create an international label using PayPal:

Steps To Create An International Label

  • Go to Your Orders Page: Start by navigating to your orders page on the PayPal Shipping Center.
  • Select the Order and Ship From Address: Click on the order number and choose your ‘Ship From’ address.
  • Calculate Shipping Rates and Select a Service: Calculate the shipping rates and select a suitable shipping service based on your needs.
  • Add a Customs Declaration Form: For international shipments, adding a customs declaration form to your order is essential. This form declares all items within the shipment when crossing international borders. Customs agencies require these forms to regulate the flow of goods in and out of each country.
    • Customs Declarations Details: Include a detailed description, quantity, item value, total value (if quantity is more than one), Harmonization Code, and country of origin for each line item in your shipment.
    • Description Accuracy: Ensure the description of each item is detailed to avoid the shipment being returned. For example, use descriptions like “leather ankle boots, size 9” or “wooden puzzle game, non-toxic paint, for ages 3-5.”
  • Purchasing the Label: After adding the customs declaration, proceed to purchase the label.

Additional Notes About International Shipping

  • Harmonisation Codes: Also known as HS Codes, these are used to classify items for tax purposes. They range from 6 to 15 digits and should be as specific as possible to avoid delivery delays.
  • Types of Customs Forms: The PayPal Shipping Center will automatically generate the correct type of customs forms for your shipments, depending on the carrier. 
  • Shipping to the UK: Please note that customs forms created in the PayPal Shipping Center do not include the freight (shipping cost) paid by the buyer, which is required by UK customs.

Editing or Deleting a Declaration

  • If you need to edit or delete a customs declaration, you can do so by clicking ‘Edit’ next to the declaration or using the ‘Clear’ button to remove it entirely.

Following these steps, you can create an international shipping label through PayPal, ensuring your shipment is adequately documented and compliant with international shipping regulations. For more detailed guidance, especially for specific carriers like USPS, UPS, or DHL Express, refer to the instructions in the PayPal Shipping Centre. 

How to Print an International Shipping Label?

Four printers to print an international shipping label

Printing international shipping labels correctly is as crucial as creating them accurately. While various printing technologies are available, thermal printers stand out as the most efficient and reliable option, especially for high-volume shipping. 

Please refer to our guide How to Print Shipping Labels, for detailed information. 

Using Thermal Printers

  • Efficiency and Durability: Thermal printers are ideal for printing shipping labels due to their speed, efficiency, and durability. They use heat to transfer ink onto the label, which makes the labels more resistant to water, heat, and scratches. To learn how a thermal printer works, refer to – How do Thermal Printers Work?  
  • No Ink or Toner Needed: Unlike inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers do not require ink or toner, which can be a significant cost-saving, especially for businesses with high shipping volumes.
  • Barcode Clarity: Thermal printers are excellent for printing clear, scannable barcodes essential for tracking and processing international shipments.

At Triton, we specialise in a diverse range of thermal printers tailored to meet the specific needs of various businesses. Our collection features models from renowned brands like Epson, Element, Senor, Honeywell, Zebra, and TSC. For those requiring colourful and striking labels, we also provide coloured label printers from OKI.

Our inventory encompasses a wide array of thermal printer models, including industrial printers, desktop printers, direct thermal printers, thermal transfer printers, barcode label printers, mobile printers and receipt printers. This selection ensures every business can find a thermal printer that aligns perfectly with their unique requirements.

Beyond printers, Triton extends a comprehensive range of accessories and consumables to augment your printing experience. Our offerings include essential spare printer parts and accessories, waterproof printer enclosures, cables and cleaning wipes.

We also supply high-quality thermal print heads from esteemed brands such as Zebra, Honeywell, TSC, Intermec, Datamax, SATO, and Bizerba. These print heads are designed to deliver consistent and superior printing performance.

Furthermore, Triton caters to a wide array of shipping and labelling needs with top-tier thermal printer consumables. Our extensive product range includes thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, thermal carton labels, thermal carcase tags, food-compliant thermal inserts, receipt rolls and shipping & freight labels. Each product is carefully crafted to meet the diverse requirements of businesses of all sizes, ensuring quality and reliability in every item.

At Triton, we’re dedicated to offering more than just products. We provide customised solutions to suit your unique business needs. Our team of experts is committed to assisting you in selecting the ideal printer and offering ongoing support for your equipment. Discover our extensive collection and connect with our professionals via our live chat service to enhance your business’s printing and labelling efficiency.

Other Printing Technologies

While thermal printers are preferred, other printing technologies can also be used, albeit with certain limitations:

  • Inkjet Printers: These are commonly available and can be used for printing shipping labels. However, they are less efficient for high-volume printing, and the ink may smudge, making barcodes less scannable.
  • Laser Printers: Better suited for high-volume than inkjets, laser printers offer good quality prints. However, they require toner replacements, and the labels are less durable than thermal prints.

Refer to the guides below to compare inkjet and laser printers with thermal printers. 

  1. Thermal Printers Vs Inkjet Printers
  2. Thermal Printers Vs Laser Printers

Attaching the Label

  • Visibility: Attach the label to the largest side of the package, ensuring it’s fully visible and flat against the surface.
  • Protection: If using inkjet or laser printers, consider covering the label with clear tape to protect it from moisture and handling. This step is not necessary for thermal labels.

While other printers can be used, thermal printers are the superior choice for printing international shipping labels, particularly for businesses with regular shipping needs. They offer durability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, making them a wise investment for streamlined shipping processes. For occasional shippers, inkjet or laser printers can suffice. Still, it’s essential to ensure the labels are protected and clearly printed.

Best Practices and Tips for Labelling in International Shipping

Ten Best Practices and Tips for Labelling in International Shipping

Proper labelling is a critical aspect of international shipping, ensuring that packages are efficiently processed and reach their destinations without issues. Here are some best practices and tips to consider when labelling for international shipping:

Ensure Accuracy and Completeness

  • Double-Check Information: Always verify the accuracy of the address, contents description, and other label details. Errors can lead to delays or misdelivery.
  • Complete All Required Fields: Don’t leave any necessary fields on the label blank. Incomplete labels can cause packages to be held up in customs.

Use High-Quality Labels and Printers

  • Durable Labels: Choose high-quality, durable labels that won’t smudge, tear, or fade during transit.
  • Reliable Printers: Use reliable printers, preferably thermal printers, for clear and durable prints.

Be Clear and Specific in Descriptions

  • Detailed Item Descriptions: Describe the contents specifically, especially for customs declarations. Vague descriptions can lead to unnecessary inspections.

Comply with Customs Regulations

  • Customs Forms: Attach all required customs forms and documentation. Ensure they are filled out correctly and completely.
  • Harmonisation Codes: Use accurate Harmonization (HS) codes for items to facilitate smooth customs processing.

Consider Language Barriers

  • Multilingual Labels: In some cases, including label information in both English and the destination country’s local language might be beneficial.

Securely Attach Labels

  • Proper Placement: Place labels on the largest side of the package, ensuring they are flat and fully visible.
  • Secure Attachment: Use clear packing tape over the entire label if printed on paper. Avoid taping over barcodes if using thermal labels.

Handle Special Items Appropriately

  • Unique Handling Labels: Use appropriate labels for fragile, hazardous, or perishable items. This ensures careful handling during transit.

Keep Track of Shipments

  • Tracking Numbers: Utilise tracking numbers provided on the labels to monitor the shipment’s progress and address any issues promptly.

Stay Updated with Carrier Guidelines

  • Carrier-Specific Requirements: Familiarise yourself with the labelling requirements of your chosen carrier, as they can vary.

Regularly Review and Update Practices

  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with changes in international shipping regulations and carrier policies.

By following these best practices and tips, you can enhance the efficiency and reliability of your international shipping process. Proper labelling ensures compliance with regulations and contributes to a smoother, hassle-free shipping experience for both the sender and the recipient.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in International Shipping Labels

Seven common issues in International shipping labels

When shipping internationally, encountering issues with shipping labels is not uncommon. Addressing these problems promptly and effectively ensures timely and accurate delivery. Here are some solutions for typical problems encountered with international shipping labels:

Incorrect Addresses

  • Prevention: Double-check addresses for accuracy before printing the label. Utilise address verification tools if available.
  • Correction: If an incorrect address is noticed before dispatch, reprint the label with the correct address. If the package is already in transit, contact the carrier immediately to see if a redirection is possible.

Undeliverable Packages

  • Common Causes: Reasons for undeliverability include incomplete recipient address details, recipient unavailability, or refusal to accept the package.
  • Solution: Ensure clear and complete address details, including phone numbers for recipient contact. If a package is returned, contact the recipient to confirm the address or arrange an alternative delivery plan.

Lost Shipments

  • Tracking: Use the tracking number to monitor the package’s progress. If the package seems to be stuck or lost, contact the carrier with the tracking number for assistance.
  • Insurance and Claims: For valuable items, consider purchasing shipping insurance. If a package is lost, file a claim with the carrier.

Updating or Correcting a Label After Creation

  • Before Dispatch: If the package hasn’t been dispatched, you can simply create and print a new label with the correct information.
  • After Dispatch: Changes are more challenging once the package is in transit. Contact the carrier as soon as possible to discuss potential solutions.

Addressing Customs Issues

  • Accurate Documentation: Ensure that all customs forms and declarations are accurate and complete. Incorrect customs information can lead to delays or seizures.
  • Responding to Customs Queries: If customs have queries or require additional information, respond promptly to avoid delays.

Dealing with Label Damage or Smudging

  • Preventive Measures: Use high-quality, durable labels and protect them with clear tape if necessary (especially if not using thermal labels).
  • In-Transit Damage: If a label gets damaged in transit, the carrier might re-label the package. However, this could cause delays, so prevention is key.

Handling Barcode Scanning Issues

  • Clear Printing: Ensure barcodes are clearly printed and not obscured by tape or damage.
  • Correct Label Placement: Place the label on a flat surface of the package without wrapping text or barcodes around edges or corners.

By being aware of these common issues and knowing how to address them, you can significantly reduce the risk of complications in your international shipments. Effective troubleshooting and proactive communication with your carrier can help resolve issues quickly, ensuring a smoother shipping process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Pays for Customs, Duties, and Taxes for International Shipments?

The responsibility for customs, duties, and taxes typically falls on the recipient of the international shipment. However, the sender can choose to pay these fees in advance through certain shipping services. It’s important to clarify this with the carrier and inform the recipient accordingly to avoid unexpected costs and delays.

Can You Place Tape Over an International Shipping Label?

Yes, you can place tape over an international shipping label. Still, it’s crucial to ensure that the tape does not cover the barcode or any other scannable information. This ensures that the barcode remains clear and scannable throughout the shipping process.

What Is a Prepaid International Shipping Label?

A prepaid international shipping label is a label for which the postage has been paid in advance by the sender. This type of label is often used for e-commerce returns or when the sender covers the shipping costs for the recipient. 

Refer to our What is a Prepaid Shipping Label guide to learn more. 

What Is a Return International Shipping Label?

An international return shipping label is a label provided by the sender to the recipient for returning an item back to the sender or a designated location. This label is typically prepaid and contains all the necessary information for the item to be shipped back.

Check out our What are Return Labels guide for more information. 

How Do You Correct a Mistake on an International Shipping Label?

If you notice a mistake on an international shipping label before dispatch, you should reprint the label with the correct information. If the package is already in transit, contact the carrier immediately to see if they can redirect the package or make the necessary corrections.

Is It Necessary to Include a Phone Number on an International Shipping Label?

No, including a phone number on an international shipping label is unnecessary. 

However, including a phone number on an international shipping label is highly recommended. It can be crucial for carriers to resolve any delivery issues, address queries, or facilitate customs clearance, especially in cases where the address alone is insufficient.

Who Needs an International Shipping Label?

Anyone sending a package or document from one country to another requires an international shipping label. This includes businesses involved in global trade, e-commerce sellers shipping products to customers abroad, individuals sending personal items to family or friends overseas, and organisations distributing materials internationally.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of international postage labels is essential for ensuring that your packages reach their global destinations efficiently and comply with international regulations. From selecting the suitable carrier services and accurately filling out the label to understanding the nuances of customs declarations and troubleshooting common issues, each step plays a pivotal role in the successful transit of your shipment. 

Embracing best practices, such as using thermal printers to print shipping labels and staying informed about the latest requirements and solutions, can significantly enhance your shipping process. Whether you are a business engaged in international trade, an e-commerce seller, or an individual sending personal items abroad, mastering the art of international shipping labels is key to a seamless, hassle-free experience. 

By adhering to these guidelines and leveraging the tools and services offered by major carriers, you can confidently navigate the world of international logistics, ensuring your shipments are handled with care and precision every step of the way.

We hope this article was helpful. 

Thanks for reading! 

Latest Articles

Learning Centres