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Best international postal services

What's the cheapest way to send parcels overseas?

open carton full of styrofoam packing and air mail tape
Last updated: 28 May 2021
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Sending parcels overseas is expensive. If you've ever packaged up presents to send to loved ones abroad, you probably had a bit of a shock when you were told the price at the post office. 

But with the boom in online shopping, Australia Post now competes with several other parcel providers. So are there viable alternatives to Australia Post for international parcels? And how is the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect these services?

To find out, we compared prices of five postal providers for a range of different parcel weights to a variety of destinations.

person at mailing house checking parcel

Which service came out on top?

Overall we found that the best postage service really depends on the size of the package you're sending. 

For lightweight packages (under 1kg)

Australia Post and Sendle were incredibly competitive – there wasn't much between them. Sendle offers customers the convenience of door-to-door service and inclusive cover, but to use it you'll need a printer and to have your parcel all ready to go before pick-up. Branches of Australia Post, on the other hand, are pretty much everywhere, so you can just walk into your nearest one without having to wait around for a delivery person. On the downside, Australia Post is slower than some of the more expensive carriers.

For 5kg packages

Overall Australia Post was cheaper (albeit slower) than the rest. Sendle does not currently offer an international delivery service for parcels over 2kg unless they're going to New Zealand.

For 20kg packages

We found that some of the alternative postal providers are definitely more affordable when it comes to sending larger 20kg packages overseas. In particular, Interparcel reigned supreme in price – but not in delivery time. Ship2 Anywhere offers quick delivery, as does Pack & Send – so you're paying the higher price for a faster service.

What we found

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of the providers aren't able to to deliver to some countries. Go to COVID-19 delays for more information.  

If booking through an online provider, you'll need to have a way of knowing the weight and dimensions of the package and have access to a printer.

Parcel pick-ups can be convenient if you can't get to a post office during opening hours, but they also lock you into waiting around until the pick-up person comes.

Redelivery costs can increase the cost of the parcel if the recipient isn't home. Some of the alternative postal providers charge for redelivery.

International postal prices

(All prices are based on a package sent from postcode 2000)

For a 500g (21x28x5cm) package

For a 1kg (22x16x8cm) package

For a 5kg (31x22x10cm) package

For a 20kg (40x30x30cm) package

How do the postal services stack up?

australia post logo

Australia Post

As the national postal provider, Australia Post has lots of post offices in cities and regional areas. Unlike letter prices, parcel prices aren't regulated and are subject to the pressure of competition (we noticed that Australia Post had slightly reduced its prices for lighter weight parcels to some locations since we last checked in 2017).

Cost 

For parcels up to 5kg Australia Post is often the cheapest (and probably the most straightforward option). But if your package is 5kg or more it's definitely worth shopping around.

Lodgement experience 

Straightforward, but you need access to either a post office or street posting box. You'll also need to fill out a customs declaration for all international parcels.

Delivery times 

Australia Post's current estimate for standard international shipping will vary depending on the destination, but it generally takes longer than some of the more expensive carriers. Please see its website for latest delivery times to specific countries

Deliveries 

These are handled by the national postal service in the destination country.

Cover

Cover for loss and damage isn't included unless the parcel is registered. But you can buy Extras Cover ($2.75 per $100 of your parcel's value) for items valued up to $5000.

sendle logo

Sendle

An Australia-based company, Sendle claims to be a fully carbon-neutral service that competes primarily with Australia Post, delivering parcels around Australia and smaller packages (under 5kg) around the world, although it can also deliver heavier items to New Zealand (only). 

Cost 

For parcels up to 5kgs, Sendle is incredibly competitive with Australia Post. Beyond 5kg, Sendle's services are limited – and expensive.

Lodgement experience 

You lodge parcels online and print labels and customs forms at home before someone picks up your parcel. 

Delivery times 

Sendle estimates New Zealand delivery  between 10–16 working days; Asia and the Pacific, North America and Western Europe 10–28 working days; and the rest of the world 14–30 working days. 

Deliveries 

Door to door. If your recipient misses the delivery at the other end, Sendle may make one attempt to redeliver the parcel free of charge. 

Cover 

Cover for loss and damage is included, with cover up to $100 for standard and premium accounts and up to $300 for pro accounts. You can also buy extra cover ($1.95 for each additional $100 of cover) for items valued up to $1500.

pack and send logo

Pack & Send

Pack & Send is a global courier offering international one-off shipments for customers.

Cost 

Consistent with our findings in 2017, Pack & Send was neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, although it was usually more expensive than Australia Post. Pack & Send's value is in its faster delivery. Prices are charged on whichever is greater – weight or volume.

Lodgement experience 

You lodge 'self-service' parcels online and print labels and customs forms at home before someone picks up your parcel. For certain items, you may need to drop your parcel off at a Pack & Send service centre, where you can also get the full service (which may be limited to city centres). Beware of possible extra charges, including: booking alteration charge ($20), incorrect weight charge ($10), futile booking charge ($20), paperwork charge ($15), redelivery charge ($15 for each redelivery attempt until successful) and storage charge ($2.50 for each day that goods aren't collected).

Delivery times 

Pack & Send's current estimate is 1–2 days for express services and 2–3 days for standard international shipping, which is much faster than both Australia Post and Sendle. 

Deliveries 

To the door. Beware the discretionary $15 redelivery charge if the recipient isn't there to collect the parcel.

Cover

Cover for loss and damage isn't included, but you can buy 'Freight Plus Warranty' cover at $2 for items with a declared valued of $100.

interparcel logo

Interparcel

Interparcel operates as a parcel broker between individuals and courier companies such as UPS, DHL, Startrack and FedEx.

Cost 

For lighter parcels (1kg and less), Interparcel is reasonably competitive with Australia Post and Sendle. In the 20kg category, we found Interparcel to be unbeatable in price.

Lodgement experience 

You lodge parcels online and print labels and customs forms at home before someone picks up your parcel. Beware of extra charges, including: incorrect weight charge ($10); a charge if you're out when the driver tries to collect the package ($10); and a charge if you want a hard copy of proof of delivery ($10).

Delivery times 

Interparcel's estimate may vary depending on the carrier and type of service you choose.  

Deliveries 

To the door, but if the recipient isn't there to collect, there may be a redelivery fee, depending on the provider. 

Cover

Cover for loss and damage is included, with cover up to $100 in value if the shipment requires a signature. You can also buy extra cover (up to the value of $2000) if you need it.

ship 2 anywhere logo

Ship2Anywhere

Ship2Anywhere partners with DHL, TNT and Aramex so that customers can make one-off international shipments.

Cost

In our price check, we found Ship2Anywhere to be generally the most expensive service. Prices are charged according to weight or volumetric weight – whichever is greater.

Lodgement experience 

You lodge parcels online and print labels and customs forms at home before someone picks up your parcel.

Delivery times

Ship2Anywhere's current estimates vary depending on the destination. No general details are available on the website except when you get a quote for a parcel.

Deliveries

To the door. If the recipient isn't home, a calling card is left and the recipient can either redirect the parcel or arrange a redelivery.

Cover

Cover for loss or damage is included free of charge up to the value of $500 and you can buy extra if you need it (up to the value of $7500).

COVID-19 delays

Australia Post

Australia Post states on its website that overseas restrictions and disruptions are affecting most services.  In March 2021, a temporary International Linehaul Surcharge was introduced for parcels sent to affected  destinations, which Australia Post says is to help recoup some of the higher costs caused by reduced air-freight capacity during the pandemic.

At the time of writing (May 2021), the company is advising customers that limited flight availability and increased COVID-19 restrictions mean items sent to and from India, Thailand and Israel may be delayed. Some other countries are not currently accepting deliveries due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Australia Post website has up-to-date details.

Pack & Send

It's business as usual in most of the 220-plus countries and territories that Pack & Send deliver to. But because of the changing nature of the pandemic, certain routes can sometimes be affected by the measures that countries put in place to curb the spread of the virus. 

Pack & Send is currently advising customers who have time-sensitive international freight to add an extra day to the normal transit time.

Interparcel

Interparcel says there may be delays on international services and is advising customers to allow an extra three-to-four business days – on top of the displayed transit times – for all International Express orders. 

Because Interparcel offers various carrier options, these delays will vary. For example, it says on its website that DHL eCommerce shipments are subject to delays of up to 15–21 business days on top of the originally quoted transit time. The company suggests customers use the UPS Express Saver service for urgent international shipments instead. Visit the Interparcel website for more details about delivery delays and suspensions.

Ship2Anywhere

At the time of writing,  there is no information on the Ship2Anywhere website about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company's international services. We emailed the support team to find out more, but got no response. 

Sendle

The company says there are some delays to its international transit services because of limited or cancelled international flights and country-specific restrictions. Also, it's currently unable to send parcels over 2kg to most countries (except New Zealand) and deliveries to others have been temporarily suspended. Go to the Sendle website for further information.  

Skippy Post

Although we've previously included Skippy Post in our International shipping price comparisons, the company has since advised its customers that all new shipments have been suspended until further notice because of the pandemic's ongoing impact on international air traffic and freight cargo capacity. But the company says on its website that it hopes to begin opening up routes to specific countries again in the future. 

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