When it comes to online shopping, there’s a lot of stress involved in finding the perfect item, whether it’s for yourself or for a loved one. You have to search endless sites for the thing you’re after, purchase it, and then have it delivered, and shipping internationally can add another level of stress to the process.

In fact, it can sometimes be a bit demoralising to find that perfect item, only to find the seller doesn’t ship to your country or charges an extortionate amount in delivery fees.

However, there are a few ways to make ordering online and shipping abroad that bit easier, so check out our guide below.

Check shipping regulations

One of the easiest ways to save yourself some unnecessary hassle is to check your destination country’s shipping regulations before you make a purchase.

Many countries have their own laws around what can be imported and some items will be seized on arrival if they don’t meet the right regulations. Rather than spending your hard-earned cash just to be stopped at customs, make sure the items you ship comply with all the import laws and regulations.

You can find country specific customs regulations here.

Check customs and added VAT

Before you decide to buy an item to send abroad, make sure you check for any additional charges.

When your item comes through your destination country’s customs department, you may be hit with additional costs in the form of Custom Duty, Excise Duty and VAT depending on the value, weight, and type of item you purchase.

Whilst a gift might be exempt under a certain value, there are certain items that will incur further fees.

Be sure to contact the customs authority of your destination country to find out how much tax and duty will be applied to your shipment.

This guide has some more information on customs charges.

Leave plenty of time

Obviously, shopping online and sending items abroad will take a lot longer than shipping things domestically, so be sure to leave plenty of time when you order items.

Be sure to take into account the possibility for hold-ups at customs, the last posting dates during holiday seasons, and the maximum shipping time rather than the expected shipping time.

Use a forwarding service

One of the best ways to minimise the hassle of sending items abroad is to use a forwarding service like Forward2Me, especially if the seller only delivers within their own country.

These services allow you to shop using a UK address so you can buy items even if the seller doesn’t ship overseas, you can potentially save money on postage, and they’ll handle all of the logistics of sending your parcel onwards.

Check the returns policy

Finally, it’s important to check the returns policy on anything you’re purchasing online to send abroad.

Some items may have a short returns period so having to send things back from overseas may take too long for you to qualify for a refund and you might end up losing money, so it’s worth checking this out before you choose to send your items abroad.