If you’ve ever shipped a package internationally, you know that customs taxes and import duties are inevitable. Pretty much every country imposes some kind of tax on imported shipments; most often applied as a percentage of the shipment’s total value. Other times, it’s a flat fee for certain value ranges. Any situation where recipients—and not the shipper—need to pay these taxes is an example of DDU shipping.
DDU Stands for “Delivery Duty Unpaid” Shipping
As you gathered from the phrase above, DDU is an acronym that stands for “Delivery Duty Unpaid.” When you buy international labels designated as DDU, your recipients are the ones who pay any customs fees or import duties. Think about the phrase Delivery Duty Unpaid; the delivery duties are literally unpaid by the time the shipment arrives in a country’s customs department! So, recipients are responsible for paying these fees in order to release their packages from customs.
The Benefits (and Drawbacks) of Delivery Duty Unpaid
The main benefit of DDU shipping is that you (the shipper) get to save money. After all, the purpose of DDU is that you don’t pay delivery duties on top of the cost of postage. Obviously, this is a huge draw for many shippers, since international shipping is already expensive to begin with. Therefore, DDU shipping is a surefire way to keep your international shipping costs as low as possible.
However, the biggest drawback of DDU shipping is the fact that it often results in a more complicated delivery process. For instance, if your customer refuses to pay these import duties, your shipment might remain in customs for an extended period of time. Either that, or your shipping carrier will return the package to you…and in that case, you’ll be responsible for paying not just the return postage, but also any additional surcharges your carrier imposes for transporting an undeliverable package back to you.
Is There a Way to Pay these Import Fees Yourself?
Depending on the shipping carrier you chose to buy your label through, you can sometimes pay these fees for your recipients by clicking into your shipment’s tracking page. If your carrier lets you pay these fees, you’ll see an option to “Pay Delivery Duties” (or some other language) on that tracking page. For example, UPS offers shippers this option for DDU labels whenever you enter your international tracking number on their tracking portal.
There’s also a way to pay these fees when you pay for your postage, as opposed to passing them onto your recipients. This process is the opposite of DDU shipping, and is known as DDP…aka, “Delivery Duty Paid” shipping. Note that certain shipping software solutions only offer DDU shipping, and some only offer DDP instead. So, it all depends on how you buy your labels online in the first place.