Nowadays, more and more online retailers ship their items to customers around the globe. It’s not uncommon to send one package in a batch to California, the next one to France, and the one after that to Brazil. As a result, online shippers often find themselves wondering if USPS offers international return service. Unfortunately, international returns aren’t included in all of the services USPS provides…but shippers can still take measures to protect themselves.
Why USPS Doesn’t Offer International Returns
It’s easy for USPS to provide return service for domestic shipments, since all delivery takes place within the United States. However, international packages are another story altogether. It would be logistically impossible for USPS to offer returns on international shipments, since this would require building out individual return networks with every other country’s postal organization. Some country’s postal organizations are privatized, and some are government-owned. At the end of the day, this endeavor would be too messy to be feasible.
Buying Insurance is the Best (and Only) Way to Protect Your International Shipments
Since USPS doesn’t offer international returns, the main way to protect your shipments is to purchase shipping insurance. Shipping insurance covers lost packages, damaged contents, and stolen packages, and shippers can get their entire declared value back. Also, if you use online shipping software to buy postage, these shipping software companies will typically take care of the claim process for you!
What Do I Tell My International Customers?
As an online seller, it’s important to set realistic expectations with all of your customers when they place an order. For international orders, we suggest making it clear that returns are not available. In our experience, if a customer has purchased goods online from an international seller at any point, he or she is likely aware of the restrictions, and the lack of international returns shouldn’t come as a shock.
I Need to Offer International Return Service…What Do I Do?
If you absolutely need to offer international return service, your best bet is to choose a different shipping carrier for the original shipment. Unlike USPS, other carriers such as FedEx and UPS operate in the private sector. Therefore, they have an international presence, and offer services in countries outside of the United States, whereas USPS does not.
While their international services are much more expensive than USPS, FedEx and UPS can generate labels from any of their locations in the world. This makes it simple for these two carriers to generate international return labels, as well.