It’s never been easier to send a parcel anywhere in the world. At the click of a button, a vast range of parcel delivery services becomes available to you. But how do you decide which one to choose? We break down some of the main questions you’ll need to consider.
What are you sending?
In general, there are two kinds of international shipment: commercial goods and personal effects. Commercial goods can be sent by any service. Some service providers, such as DHL and UPS, will allow you to send personal effects.
Credit: Matthew Henry
Some parcel delivery companies, such as DHL and TNT, will accept pallets, with a much greater upper weight limit than parcels.
Not all service providers will accept suitcases. DHL will, but you must use a hard-shell case.
Some items, such as alcohol, phones, jewellery and watches, are restricted items. This means that restrictions may vary between carriers and these items may not be permitted at all.
Economy or express?
How urgent is your parcel delivery? Are you happy to pay less for a slower delivery, or a little bit extra to get your parcel to its destination within a day?
Express services from companies like UPS, DHL and TNT are usually next-day for destinations in the UK, the US and some parts of Europe, and usually no more than 2-4 days for all other world destinations.
Credit: Juhasz Imre
If your parcel is very urgent, there are also “timed” services for some destinations. For example, if sending a parcel to the USA, you can choose to have it delivered by 10:30am or 12pm with DHL Express Worldwide. If sending to another address in the UK, you can choose 9am, 10am or 12pm with TNT Express. The later the time, the less it costs.
Transit times for economy services tend to vary a lot more depending on the service. Worldwide services can take anywhere between 2-11 days, but those with the longest transit times are likely to be much cheaper.
Do you need a door-to-door service?
Most parcel delivery services are door-to-door, which means that the company collects from your home or business address and delivers the parcel to another address of your choice.
With UPS, you have the option of dropping off or collecting from an Access Point in certain countries. These are usually local shops or petrol stations. Using an Access Point means you don’t have to wait in for the courier.
We also offer a range of services that allow you to drop your parcel or pallet off at one of our depots (we have one in London, near Heathrow, and one on the Wirral in Merseyside). For these services, we’re able to offer significant discounts on parcel delivery as carriers collect in large volumes from our depots.
However, you can add an optional collection to your order that effectively turns this into a door-to-door service. This will usually add one working day to the transit time, though turnaround time is faster if your address is local to ours.