A person frustrated over having shipping problems

As all people know, international shipping is anything but easy. Even a simple shipment requires a fair bit of planning, effort, and manpower to safely transport. And while international shipping is tackled daily, there are still some mistakes that people make over and over again. A simple error can disrupt global supply chains and cost millions of dollars. To help mitigate this, we will go over the 6 most common international shipping problems. That way, you’ll be able to understand and avoid them with relative ease.


Most common international shipping problems

While there is no end to the mistakes people make when dealing with international shipping companies, some stand out among the rest. Due to their frequency and impact on the shipping process, the following errors are the most noteworthy. So, before you start organizing your next international shipment, make sure that you understand what causes these problems and what you can do to avoid them.


1. Shipping delays

You’d be surprised at how often people under-appreciate the importance of timing when it comes to international shipments. Besides safety factors, your timing will impact the efficiency and the cost of your shipment. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is mistime your cargo.

International shipping does require a fair bit of planning.

The most straightforward way to avoid this is to get shipping companies quotes at least a month in advance. That way, you can go over them and ensure that everything is in order. Besides this, you also need to make sure that you have a constant line of communication with your freight forwarder. If there is a delay, you need to be aware of it as soon as possible.


2. Having improper or no insurance

Even with ample preparation and top-notch technology, there is no guarantee that your shipment will remain safe and sound. Mistakes, mishaps, and unfortunate circumstances happen. And the only viable safeguard against them is to have the right insurance for your shipment. Here is where we find the second most common mistake people make when tackling international shipping: improper insurance.

A person singing insurance

It is paramount that you have the right insurance for your shipping needs.

Some people like to push their luck and opt for having no insurance. While this is possible, it is by no means advisable. Even if you firmly believe that your shipment will go without a hitch, you still should get decent insurance. To tackle this properly, you first need to see which insurance options you have. Then you need to see which one of them will adequately cover your cargo. If necessary, employ legal counsel and make sure that you clearly understand various insurance implications.


3. Trying to save money on freight costs can cause supply chain disruptions

Don’t get us wrong. There is nothing wrong with trying to reduce supply chain costs. But, there is a clear difference between a cost-effective freight forwarder and a cheap one. A cost-effective company will find the cheapest possible way to transport your shipment while maintaining safety standards. A cheap one will simply try to transport your cargo for the least amount of money. Opting for the second does not only risk delays but can also lead to your entire shipment being destroyed. The best course of action is to do extensive background checks and only work with companies with stellar ratings.

Furthermore, good reviews from previous customers are always a plus. In the shipping industry, you always get what you paid for. So, if a company’s offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.


4. Failing to understand regulations

International shipping implies that your cargo will go through multiple customs. Even if you do everything right, going through customs can take some time. So imagine what happens if you fail to understand regulations and try to ship your cargo without proper clearance. You’d be surprised how often shipments get stuck in ports simply due to improper paperwork. This usually happens because people believe that shipping regulations are the same for every country. In actuality, different countries can have substantially different rules. And if you want to avoid unnecessary delays (or even fines), you really ought to research them as much as possible.


5. Poor packing

If you plan on packing your own goods for international shipping, it is essential to understand what you are getting yourself into. To do so properly, there are specific safety measures you need to follow. Don’t think that freight forwards will ship anything you give them. After all, once they receive your shipment, they become responsible for it. So, if you plan on shipping, make sure that you properly pack. This means using sturdy packing materials, along with padding and wrapping. Keep in mind that heavy items need special attention, as too organic or perishable items. If you are unsure how to pack, feel free to hire a professional or consult with one. Proper packing is the most crucial line of defense when it comes to overall safety.

A woman packing boxes.

Improper packing is one of the biggest international shipping mistakes.

6. Poor labelling

One of the most common reasons shipments get misplaced is improper labeling. Because they don’t follow the official recommendations, people tend to mislabel their cargo and cause unnecessary confusion. Consult with your company and follow their instructions to avoid this from happening. If you are shipping fragile and/or heavy items, make sure to notify the people who are supposed to handle them. Also, consider labeling in multiple languages, depending on where you are shipping to.


Final thoughts

If you follow what we’ve outlined, you will avoid the most common international shipping problems. To ensure that your shipments remain safe at all times, you will have to find the right shipping carrier, do further research and have a bit of luck. But, even by understanding what we’ve outlined so far, you are still ahead of the average person that tackles international shipping.