Time saver: International shipping from your desktop printer!
When I started my business years ago, it was truly doing my home-based businesses “while the babies were napping”. Hence … the name!
But with 3 kids within 4 years apart, it was a drag to go anywhere, especially for errands like the post office. At one point, I had an baby in an infant carseat/carrier, and 2 boys in carseats. It took 5 minutes just to buckle and un-buckle … Now I’m down to 1 carseat and 1 booster! 🙂
So I figured that I could save time and my aching back by printing labels from my desktop printer for shipping most of my packages. I spend $tens of thousands a year on shipping alone, so this one area has saved me hundreds of hours: no standing in line, no guessing the shipping cost, no need to run to the post office! Your mail carrier will pick them up daily when he/she delivers your mail.
For me, my oldest boy can now bring the packages and put them right on the counter while I’m in the minivan with the other two! The kind folks at my local post office, (Glenn, Maggie and Nalani) sweetly refer to it as “cheap child labor” 🙂 but I think of it as “responsibility”.
The key to being able to do this is having a postal scale. I got mine years ago for about $20: a desktop 35lb. max postal scale. Here’s a better version of what I have that weighs packages up to 75lbs. for ~$23 on Amazon:
So here’s my step-by-step guide for saving you time for printing labels for International (non-US) shipments.
Step 1: Go to your Paypal account to start the process. Click “Print Shipping Label”.
Step 2: Here is the next screen. Instructions are…
a) Select your service type: Priority Mail International is the most economical and fastest for International customers.
b) Select package type: I’m using “small flat rate” for this new customer.
c) Enter the weight of your package. Even though it is a flat rate, international shipping requires a weight measurement. Round up: if it’s 12.5 oz, round up to 13 oz.
d) Select the mailing date that you are shipping – usually that day’s date.
e) Optional: type in a message to your customer if you wish.
f) Click “Continue”
This is what appears below once I have made my selections. Notice the envelope that is required. You can click on this hyperlink to order or skip if you already have it. You can also pick one up at your local post office. (I’ll come back to this at the end of this post.)
Step 3: Next screen
a) Enter a description ex. “Clutch handbag”
b) Enter quantity: 1 (*I always enter “1” because the total weight here in “d” has to match the weight that you entered on the previous screen. Even if you are shipping 2 clutches, you do not need to enter 2 and figure out how much they weigh separately in order to add up to the same weight as the package. Enter ‘1’ for quantity for the entire package.)
c) Enter value that customer paid for.
d) Re-enter the item weight as you entered on the previous screen.
e) Select Country of Origin.
f) Select your Category of Item as “Commercial Sample”.
g) Check this box.
h) Click “Continue”.
Step 4: Click “Pay and Continue”
Step 5: My Mac gets this alert pop-up. If you get it, click “allow”.
Step 6: Click “Print Label”. System alerts you to the number of pages that will be printed.
NOTE: Small flat rate Priority Mail International will always have only 1 page to print.
Medium and large flat rate Priority Mail International will have 2 pages.
Step 7: Next pop-up. Click OK when done!
Additional hints: This screen appears after everything is done.
If you have any problems with the label not printing, click on the hyperlink “Reprint your label”. Note there is no charge to reprint your label for up to 24 hours.
You can also void the label via the hyperlink contained below.
You can order FREE shipping supplies including the 2976-E envelope needed to finish your shipping.
When I clicked on the lower hyperlink for “Order free U.S. Postal Service(R) shipping supplies online” in the screen above, it led me directly to usps.com.
I entered in “2976-E in the “Store Search” and got them!
Step 8: Sign your name and write in the date.
Step 9: Open your envelope and place in your printed label as such.
Make sure that it is centered.
Step 10: Remove the strips in the back.
Step 11: Place on package with the label centered on your box.
Step 12: Fold down stick back envelope onto your box.
Step 13: Finish with the other 2 sides. You’re done!
Regarding medium and large flat rate Priority Mail International packages: the steps are the same, except you will have 2 pages printed out. You will see that there will be 4 “half-pages” that look similar to the one above. Sign all 4 copies and keep the “Sender’s Copy” for your files.
Hope this helps everyone!