Postage to Europe: Top 5 couriers and their rates

Remay Villaester (May)
E-commerce has broken down traditional barriers to trade and commerce. This presents an incredible opportunity for small business owners in the United Kingdom to expand their customer base internationally. However, there has to be a system of moving the goods from the seller's warehouse to the buyer's destination. This is where postage and shipping come into play. If you sell physical goods of any sort, then you need a system of moving those goods to your buyer’s location. As an international seller selling to customers all over Europe, you need to know the best and most reliable couriers to help you ship your goods from the UK to other countries in Europe.

In this article, we will examine some of the best couriers that you can use to ship goods from the United Kingdom to other European Nations. We’ll examine some of the important things that you need to know about International shipping of goods within the European Union. We’ll also show you a way to save money on your sales using Wise Business.

What to Keep in Mind?

As an e-commerce seller in the UK trying to sell to an international market, there are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind. The European market accounts for a large percentage of the export market for online businesses in the UK. As far back as 2015, a report released by the Volo online retail export index indicated that the western European markets made up more than 50% of the export market for online businesses in the United Kingdom. According to the report, the most fertile ground for UK e-commerce businesses that are looking to sell abroad is France and Germany, which makes up about 40% of the export demand from British online businesses. While trade volume with the United States has long increased since then, sales in the eurozone still account for a major part of the export from online businesses in the UK.¹

If you are planning to start selling internationally from the UK, here a couple of things that should pay attention to:

1. Have a Strategy

As with every other thing, a plan is essential for your success as an e-commerce seller. You must know what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them. What are your objectives for your online store? Who are you targeting? Who are your customers? Where are they and how do you plan to reach them? For the marketing channels that you are planning to use, how effective are they and how much are you planning to spend on it.

By creating a solid strategy for your online e-commerce business, your success becomes more visible and achievable.

2. Choose Your Sales Channels

The next thing you want to do is choose your sales channel carefully. Where do you want to sell to your customers? You can decide to create your own website or use online marketplaces such as Amazon Europe. Social media is also an option for making sales. The sales channel that you use will depend on several factors such as your budget, the kind of goods you sell, and so on.

3. Prepare to Handle Payments and Logistics

Apart from the sales channel that you plan to use to reach your customers, the payment gateway that you’ll use to receive payments from your customers is also an extremely crucial part of your success as an online e-commerce seller. You’re going to need a provider that’ll charge you as little as possible when converting between different currencies. Consider using Wise Business for real exchange rates with no mark-up and low transfer fees.

You also need to know how you’ll ship your goods and products to your customers in their respective countries. You have a few options to choose from which we’ll discuss further in this article.

4. Prepare to Handle European VAT

Value-added tax or VAT is a tax that is collected by all sellers of goods and services at every stage of the supply chain. This means that manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and end consumers, will all pay VAT on their purchases.

Here is what you need to know as a European business selling to an EU customer.

Online traders that are based in the EU and sell goods online to other European customers must consider the rules for distance selling. Distance sales refer to goods that are sent to a private customer in other EU member nations and the supplier is responsible for delivery.

These rules will apply even if you are a sole trader, are not VAT registered, or you only sell through a marketplace. Distance selling rules will enable you to sell across national borders to customers within the EU until you meet some set thresholds. Before you meet these thresholds, you will apply the VAT rate of the outbound country on your sales. Once you exceed the threshold of your buyer’s country, you can then switch to the domestic tax rate of that country, and then ensure that you are VAT registered in that state.

For example, the distance selling limit in the UK is £70,000 and €100,000 in Germany. If you are VAT registered in the UK, and start selling to Germany, you will still have to file and apply for VAT refunds in the UK till you hit €100,000 in sales for the year. Once the threshold, you will then file for VAT returns in Germany. Once you are VAT registered in another country, make sure that you only charge VAT in one country, then once you pass the threshold, you can charge VAT in the buyer’s country.² For a list of each country’s distance selling thresholds, check theSimply VAT resource.

What Couriers can I use?

Here are some of the partners that you can use to deliver you products across EEA both for personal and business purposes:³

CourierPrice RangeTime for DeliveryTrack Shipment
DHL (Package less than 5kg)
  • Drop off at Local DHL Service Point - £17.90
  • Collection Online - £18.15
  • 3 - 6 working days (VAT Not charged)Yes, available
  • Dropped at UPS Access Point Euro - £15.12
  • Collected by UPS - £19.28
  • 3 - 6 working days (VAT Not charged)Available
    TNT£40.923 - 6 working days (VAT Not charged)Available
    Parcel Force
  • Collected any time during working hours - £19.19
  • Collected before 11 am - £20.19
  • 3 - 6 working days (VAT Not charged)Available
  • Dropped at a drop point - £13.85
  • Collected by DPS - £15.03
  • 3 - 6 working days (VAT Not charged)Available

    All prices are calculated with a parcel of 35cm X 35cm X 35cm and a weight of 5kg with Spain as the destination.

    How to save money on sales with Wise?

    As an e-commerce seller that is selling to the international market, receiving or making payments in foreign currencies can be quite expensive. Most major payment gateways charge a lot of fees on their transfers. In addition, they usually charge a hidden markup on their exchange rate, such that you end up paying more than you otherwise would at the mid-market exchange rate.

    With Wise, you can save money on sales using our self-service business account that allows you to receive payments at the mid market rate. Wise provides you with an all-in-one platform for receiving money for free.

    You can easily set up a Wise business account and even hold money in multiple currencies. And when you want to convert and receive money in your bank account, you are charged a small transparent fee on upfront.

    Another way that Wise helps you save money is with their currency conversion. Wise exchanges currency at the mid-market rate, which is what you’ll see on Google or any other online currency converter which means that you’ll end up getting more for the money that you convert.

    Start saving today with Wise


    1. Volo Commerce blog post
    2. xsellco blog post
    3. Parcel2Go article

    *Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

    This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

    We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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