An illustration of a man delivering a parcel

How to choose the best package forwarder.

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Many shoppers from all over the world when shopping from the USA, Europe or other countries need to, or wish to, use a package forwarder. There are many advantages for doing so. But how should you choose the best package forwarder for international shopping, which one is right for you, and what are the alternatives to, or and others.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a package forwarder. Here we look at the main considerations. The first thing to check is that they offer collection in the country you wish to buy from, and they will deliver to the country where you live or where your address is. You can use our tool to get a quick comparison of many package forwarders.

  • Package forwarding, also known as parcel forwarding, is a service provided by shipping companies to facilitate international online shopping.
  • It has gained popularity due to the rapid growth of e-commerce websites and limitations on shipping options.
  • Package forwarding services make cross-border shopping more convenient by solving payment and shipping issues.
  • Unlike mail forwarding, which refers to traditional mail or magazines, package forwarding specifically applies to online purchases shipped in bags or boxes.
  • Reasons for the emergence of package forwarding services include the growth of e-commerce, the convenience of international checkout methods like PayPal, and the desire to shop from companies that don’t offer international shipping.
  • Other factors include safety and insurance features, price differences between domestic and international stores, and language barriers between shoppers and retailers.
  • Cross-border online shopping, particularly from US retailers, presents challenges in terms of shipping and payment.
  • US package forwarding services assist international shoppers by shipping their purchases to their home address or facilitating direct orders with US retailers.
  • This model has been replicated globally, with many countries offering similar services to overseas buyers.
  • Customers have the flexibility to choose shipping preferences and carriers when instructing the mail forwarding company.
  • The package forwarding process typically involves obtaining a native shipping address and member number from a package forwarder.
  • The shopper uses this address and member number when placing an online order.
  • The package forwarder receives the package, notifies the shopper, and often provides storage options.
  • Shoppers pay the package forwarder for various handling services and international shipping fees.
  • Finally, the package forwarder ships the package, and the shopper receives it at their home address.

Membership fees.

Many package forwarding companies charge a set up fee to open your account. Some of the companies have tiered accounts and offer more services the more you pay. Monthly fees are also a consideration. Your choice would depend upon how often you will use the service, if it is rarely then paying a larger monthly fee may not offset the savings you can make on the other services such as package consolidation or reduced shipping fees.

Try and work out how shipments you would need to make in order to justify paying an ongoing or monthly account fee.

Repackaging and Package consolidation.

If you are buying multiple packages from many different shops then these will all be sent to the forwarder separately. It makes sense therefore when being reshipped on to you, to have these packages repackaged and consolidated into one package. This can have a large impact on the shipping cost as you are only paying to ship one package rather than many. A good forwarder will offer this service for free or a small fee. 

You can wait until all your packages are received then have them consolidated to take advantage of lower shipping fees. Likewise, some shops will send packages i large boxes or parcels which can be made smaller by a competent forwarder, this too will reduce your spend. 

It is worth checking if the company charges a storage fee while you packages wait in their warehouse too. Many offer free storage for, say, 30 days.

Compare consolidation fees and services if you are going to buy multiple packages.

Cheap shipping rates.

Shipping rates vary between companies. Look for a forwarder than uses many different shipping companies, this increased choice will mean you can find a shipping service to suit your budget. Also bear in mind the monthly fees as this can often mean you can get a discount on your shipping fees. Popular shipping companies that the forwarder use include FedEx, DHL, and TNT.

Standard and express levels of shipping are often offered and costs vary accordingly

Personal shopping.

Some shoppers in some countries find it difficult to pay for shopping in other countries, especially if they don’t have a credit card. Many forwarders will offer a concierge or personal shopper services, where they buy your shopping for you and you then pay them from your account. If this is something you would like to take advantage of, look out for the fees, normally a percentage fee is charged to your shopping.

Package Forwarders.

Make sure you read reviews about other people’s experiences of shopping cross border using a package forwarder. Compare package forwarders with a comparison website.

Advantages of Package Forwarders:

  1. Access to Global Shopping: Package forwarders enable shoppers to access a wider range of global online retailers that may not offer international shipping or have limitations in shipping to certain countries. This opens up a world of products and deals that would otherwise be unavailable.
  2. Consolidation and Repackaging: Package forwarders often offer consolidation services, where they can combine multiple packages into a single shipment. This reduces shipping costs and allows for more efficient delivery. Additionally, they may repackage items to reduce weight or protect fragile goods, ensuring safer transportation.
  3. Cost Savings: By leveraging package forwarders, shoppers can take advantage of potential cost savings. Some forwarders offer discounted international shipping rates due to their bulk shipping agreements with carriers. They may also provide options to choose from different shipping methods, allowing shoppers to select the most economical option for their needs.
  4. Virtual Mailbox and Storage: Package forwarders typically provide shoppers with a virtual mailbox or storage space to receive and hold packages. This can be beneficial for those who need a US or international address for various purposes, such as business or personal reasons. It allows for better organization and management of incoming packages.
  5. Package Tracking and Notifications: Package forwarders often provide tracking services, allowing shoppers to monitor the progress of their shipments. They may send notifications and updates regarding package arrivals, storage, or any potential issues during the shipping process. This improves transparency and keeps shoppers informed.

Disadvantages of Package Forwarders:

  1. Additional Costs: While package forwarders offer convenience and access to global shopping, they come with additional costs. Shoppers may incur fees for services like package handling, consolidation, repackaging, storage, and international shipping. These costs should be considered and compared to the potential savings or benefits obtained through the forwarder.
  2. Customs and Import Duties: When using a package forwarder, shoppers are still responsible for complying with customs regulations and paying any applicable import duties or taxes. Depending on the country of delivery, customs processes can be complex, and shoppers should be aware of potential customs fees that may arise.
  3. Reliance on Third Parties: By using a package forwarder, shoppers entrust their packages to a third-party service provider. While most package forwarders are reputable and reliable, there is a level of trust involved in the handling and delivery of packages. Shoppers should carefully research and choose a reputable forwarder to minimize any potential risks.
  4. Potential Delays and Shipping Issues: International shipping can sometimes encounter delays or issues beyond the control of package forwarders. These can include customs inspections, weather conditions, or carrier-related problems. Shoppers should be prepared for possible delays and factor them into their expectations.
  5. Limited Return Policies: Return processes can be more complicated when using a package forwarder. Shoppers may need to ship items back to the forwarder’s address for returns, which can incur additional costs. Additionally, some forwarders may have limited or stricter return policies compared to direct purchases from retailers.

It is important for shoppers to weigh these advantages and disadvantages when deciding whether to use a package forwarder. Consider individual circumstances, preferences, and the specific needs of the intended purchases to make an informed decision to choose the best package forwarder.


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