Shipping to India From the USA

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International expansion is key to growing your ecommerce business. As you start marketing your products overseas, you might notice orders coming from many customers, including India. As one of the world’s leading and fastest-growing economies, Indian customers are a great customer base to sell to. With over one billion people in the country, India is a great country to focus on as you expand your international reach. 


In this guide to shipping to India, we’ll go over the rules, rates, shipping options, and services that will help you begin shipping your products to India. 

Shipping to India: USPS vs. UPS. vs. FedEx vs. DHL

Below we break down the differences in service levels for shipping to India, including price and transit times for the carriers. 

Only USPS offers flat rates to ship from the US to India. All other prices were calculated using the respective carrier’s pricing calculators for a 2 kg package in November 2019. Exact prices are subject to change.

Note: These are general options for consumers shipping orders. To know what ShipBob offers when shipping to other countries like India, please request a quote here.

ShipBob’s exact rates for customers will vary as we charge an all-in ‘total fulfilment cost’ that includes picking, packing, and shipping, among other factors. 

ServicePrice*Delivery Time
USPSPriority Mail Express International $64.253-5 business days
USPSPriority Mail International$35.656-10 business days
USPSFirst-Class International ServiceDepends on postage pricing11-20 business days
UPSWorldwide Expedited$64.542-5 business days
UPSWorldwide Saver$43.256-10 business days
FedExInternational Priority$70.93 (*lowest rate)3-5 business days
FedExInternational Economy $65.73 (*lowest rate)6-10 business days
DHLInternational Express$57.973-6 business days 

*Rates vary by weight and package size, but this is the minimum cost.

The top four US carriers all offer shipping services to India. With so many options, how do you know which is the best service for shipping to India? It really depends. Each carrier has pros and cons, and you should consider which carrier to use depending on your order(s).

1. USPS

Similar to other carriers, USPS rates depend on the weight of the package and delivery timeline. One tip to using USPS is they offer flat rate shipping to India, so you can easily forecast yourshipping costs.

However, one major con to using USPS for shipping to India is that tracking only works until the point your packages leave the US. You will have to use theIndian Post’s tracking website to find your package, which can take a few days to update in their system.

UPS pros:

  • Flat rate shipping
  • Many locations in the US for dropping packages off
  • Ability to transport larger parcels cost-effectively
  • No pickup fees

USPS cons:

  • Packages are transferred to India Post once they arrive, which can add a few extra days for delivery
  • Your tracking number is no longer valid once the package leaves the US
  • Tracking options are limited compared to other carriers

Read more: USPS India Country Conditions.

2. UPS

UPS is a great option for shipping to India because of its worldwide presence. They can pick up packages in the US and deliver them in India in as little as three days. Unlike USPS, the packages are tracked from pickup to delivery through UPS’ tracking system.

However, UPS can also be an expensive carrier if you’re sending heavier items that are over 10 pounds. 

UPS pros:

  • Significant presence in the US to make picking up or dropping off packages easier
  • Work with many shipping partners toreduce shipping costs
  • Can pick up packages at your location
  • Ability to transport packages of all sizes

UPS cons:

  • Generally higher shipping costs
  • Can get a little fee-heavy

3. FedEx

FedEx is another option for shipping to India. They can also pick up packages in the US and deliver them to addresses in India in as little as three days. Just like UPS, the packages are picked up and tracked until they’re delivered.

FedEx is generally more expensive than the USPS but offers competitive pricing with UPS and DHL. If you’re shipping a small amount of packages, USPS is often a better choice due to cheaper pricing. 

FedEx pros:

  • Significant presence in the US to make picking up or dropping off packages easier
  • Many shipping partners to reduce shipping costs
  • Can pick up packages at your location
  • Prices can be good if shipping in bulk

FedEx cons:

  • Can get a little fee-heavy
  • Customs can slow down package delivery times

4. DHL

DHLis well-known for its expertise inglobal shipping for US-based businesses. If you want to ship overseas, DHL is your go-to carrier. 

However, they don’t have as big of a presence in the US compared to UPS and FedEx, so you might have to go out of your way to find a DHL location to drop packages off. 

DHL pros:

  • Expansive international presence
  • Express delivery for many countries
  • Cost-effective air and sea delivery options
  • No pickup fees

DHL cons:

  • Limited US presence, so drop off locations are harder to find compared to USPS, UPS and FedEx
  • Generally higher shipping costs due to international focus
  • Typically more surcharges compared to other carriers

The 3 types of Indian tariffs

Any time you start selling internationally, the shipping process becomes more complex. India’s tariff structure can actually be a little complex compared to other countries. The tariff structure of the general application is composed of a basic customs duty, an “additional duty,” a “special additional duty,” and an education assessment (“cess”).

In order to get the duty and tariff rates, check out the India Trade Portal.

1. MFN (most favorable nation) applied rates

MFN tariffs can be around 14%.

2. Bound tariff

The bound tariff rate is about 48% in India. 

3. Gift tariffs

Gifts are not charged if they are at or below Rs 5,000 rupees, which is around $70. Anything over that will be charged a tariff. 

Slowdowns when shipping to India

Even with India’s rapid growth and increasing interest in ecommerce, delivery delays can happen due to infrastructure, traffic, geography, and general customs procedures. When shipping to India, keep in mind exactly where you’re shipping so customers can expect accurate delivery windows. 

Lack of infrastructure

Even though India is growing quickly, some rural areas lack the infrastructure for fast delivery. Big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Goa will not have this problem. 

Heavy traffic

Big cities in India are infamous for their heavy traffic. There is heavy traffic in major metropolitan areas like Mumbai and New Delhi at almost all times of the day, which may slow down packages.

Vast geographic area

The geographic area of India is very large, stretching from the base of the Himalayas all the way down to the tip of Tamil Nadu. It may take a few weeks at minimum for packages to reach faraway areas. 

Items you can’t ship to India

Like most countries, India has your typical list of items you can’t ship including weaponry, drugs, alcohol, and more. 

India also has a different or unique list of prohibited items compared to most countries. Noticeable additions are things such as:

  • Maps
  • Passports
  • Products made in Iran
  • Baby gender prediction kits
  • Jewellery with precious stones 


Choose a 3PL with experience in India

If you run an ecommerce business but have never shipped products to India before or want more affordable rates to ramp up your international sales, consider working with a 3PL to help make international shipping easier. 

An experienced 3PL like ShipBob can store your inventory, automatically fulfil your ecommerce orders, offer substantial shipping discounts, provide easier infrastructure for customs forms and taxes, and connect you with other international partners. 

With ShipBob handling fulfilment logistics for packages going to India, you can rest easy knowing your products are being delivered to your customers. 

Here’s why you should let ShipBob handle your shipping to India:

Offer shipping to Indian customers

Many small to mid-sized ecommerce companies often need to spend a few months preparing to ship to India for the first time. With a 3PL, they can help you expand your shipping network beyond the US.

ShipBob provides great shipping services that your in-house (probably) lacks. We can ship orders out from the US to locations in India, all while providing order updates and tracking numbers.

Save time and money

By partnering with ShipBob, you eliminate the need to manage warehouses, logistics operations, and hire labor. Working with ShipBob can actually turn logistics and warehousing into a revenue driver because you can increase sales and offer the shipping options, transit times, and delivery speeds that customers want. 

You also save time when you outsource fulfilment tasks to ShipBob. You won’t have to spend time packing boxes, waiting for package pickups, or building out warehouse space. Working with ShipBob gives you time back to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as customer service and marketing.

Leverage industry expertise

There are so many facets to running an ecommerce business. Chances are you don’t have the time to become an expert in every detail of warehousing and shipping. That’s where ShipBob comes in: staffed by ecommerce professionals, we are knowledgeable and up-to-date with the latest industry trends and complexities — so you don’t have to be.

ShipBob also has the technical resources and partner network — including carrier partnerships, custom packaging providers, and more — that allows us to constantly optimise and make improvements to the supply chain and help drive ecommerce success.

Conclusion

Shipping to India from the US doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you partner with a 3PL. For your growing ecommerce business, Indian customers will help you create a great base as you expand even further throughout Asia. 
If you need help shipping to India, learn how ShipBob can make shipping even easier by filling out the form below. 

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