Hey guys. In response to some apparent confusion over international shipping, and all the "CONUS only" guys in the B/S/T forum, I put together a bit of info on international shipping.
(Originally on my Shaveblog, link's in my sig!)
So, I have been getting a lot of "Holy cow, you live in Japan! I can't send you this pack of blades because the shipping will be a killer!" lately, and I'm getting a little frustrated. It's not that I don't understand the concern, it's just that I think people should know what's what. So, as a service to the wetshaving community, here is Jim's guide to International Shipping from the US.
Useful sites: USPS Postal Price Calculator, Oz to Gram conversion table (for those pesky European soaps and stuff)
First, of course, the most important thing to remember about shipping internationally is it's all about weight. This means know how much your product weights, and how much your packaging weighs. This also brings us to the second important thing: pack smart. Don't pack a single razor in a 12x12x12 box--it's unnecessary and wasteful, and will cost you money.
Another good point to remember (thanks to Gruder for reminding me): You MUST fill out a customs declaration on international packages. This is usually the small, green cn22 form. Be sure to write the contents and approximate value--this is used for tax purposes in the receiving country. If the value of the products is of a certain level (differs for each country) the receiver will have to pay duties. It's good to be aware of this, for all parties in volved, to avoid surprises. If you are selling the items mark "commercial use", otherwise it's fine to mark "gift".
One note: for soaps, lotions etc. I have heard, and seen on packages I've received, that it's fine to write "toiletries" in the contents box. I am not entirely sure if this is the right thing to do, but my packages have all gotten through with it. In addition, colognes and perfumes are illegal to send by airmail, however it appears that aftershave lotion, due to its lower alcohol content, is ok as long as the customs sheet clearly indicates "Aftershave Lotion".
Let's start with a hypothetical example:
I have a Gillette j2 Slim Adjustable, no box or packaging. It weighs 75 grams, that's about 2.5 oz. To ship this, I would:
*Wrap in bubblewrap
*Pack in lightly crumpled newspaper/tissue paper
*Pack in a small (6x2x2), sturdy cardboard box. Plenty safe.
The total package weighs in at just under 5 oz. I go to the USPS international postage page and check the price:
*Choose Japan (I tried 8 different random countries, they were all the same rate--but there are a lot of them out there so...)
*Enter the weight (go for 5 oz, just to be safe)
Price: $4.60 for first class mail international package.
Yes, there are plenty of more expensive ways to ship, but you don't need them unless you have something REALLY valuable, in which case shipping shouldn't be your main concern.
The domestic price? First class mail package: $1.85, Priority Mail $4.80
Ok, so let's talk soaps. Average soap pucks (MWF, Tabac) are 125 grams, or 4.4 oz. These guys are tough, so a simple bubblepack envelope should be enough. Again, 5 oz, $4.60. No worries!
Some real life examples: a single pack of ten blades in the plastic holder, small bubble pack envelope: $1.20
Large box containing 3 shave sticks, a 100 gram block of alum, 45 blades, a pack of Styptic matches (weight 1lb 2oz): $11.95
If we check, we will find that for most packages, international shipping is a little over twice the domestic cost. This is not insignificant, but it is certainly not the huge cost that most people seem to think it is.
And, if you are selling, then you can use this method to check shipping prices before you sell!
I hope this helps!