Best international postal service


What's the best postal service for sending parcels overseas?

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Posting parcels overseas


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

What we found:

  • For lightweight packages (up to 5kg), Skippy Post was usually the cheapest (however not necessarily the most straightforward). Australia Post was usually not much more expensive for lighter packages (and had some slightly cheaper rates on certain routes), but may be a more straightforward option if you're just sending a small one-off parcel.
  • For heavier packages (over 5kg), there were cheaper deals with alternative postal providers such as couriers or parcel brokers.
  • If booking through an online provider, you'll need to have a means 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 it's picked up.
  • 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

500g (21x28x5cm)

Australia Post SkippyPost* Pack & Send Interparcel Ship2Anywhere
United States $23.72 $22.32  $35.93 $35.60  $44.74
United Kingdom $28.32 $25.83  $40.59 $35.60 $60.06
Hong Kong $22.26 $21.77 $36.69 $34.80 $71.79
New Zealand $19.73 $18.42 $30.91 $27.25 $41.28
1kg (22x16x8cm)

Australia Post SkippyPost* Pack & Send Interparcel Ship2Anywhere
United States $41.18 $31.78 $45.72  $41.90 $44.74
United Kingdom $51.72 $38.31 $48.48 $49.95 $60.06
Hong Kong $37.65 $31.42 $46.98 $44.30 $71.79
New Zealand $31.40 $22.43 $36.69 $30.40 $41.28
5kg (31x22x10cm)

Australia Post SkippyPost* Pack & Send Interparcel Ship2Anywhere
United States $84.35 $108.49 $99.09 $97.05 $103.31
United Kingdom $93.04 $108.49 $116.44 $110.55 $128.41
Hong Kong $81.73 $71.95 $97.33 $92.55 $130.29
New Zealand $63.34 $37.33 $68.78 $59.65 $81.09
20kg (43x30x30cm)

Australia Post SkippyPost* Pack & Send Interparcel Ship2Anywhere
United States $182.68 $331.69 $194.38 $158.30 $172.04
United Kingdom $200.90 $331.69 $203.92 $176.90 $210.75
Hong Kong $178.10 $220.61 $182.89 $160.05 $207.59
New Zealand $112.88 $84.43 $113.54 $109.55 $126.06

*Includes $11 shipment fee

How the postal services stack up?

In addition to comparing prices, we also tested the service of each provider by sending some Tim Tams to an expat in the United States (we conducted this particular test back in 2014).

Australia Post

As the national postal provider, Australia Post has a range of post offices in cities and regional areas. Unlike letter prices, parcel prices aren't regulated and are subject to a competitive environment (we noticed they had upped the prices of their lighter weight parcels a fair bit since we last checked prices in 2014).

  • Cost For parcels up to 5kg Australia Post is often the second cheapest (and likely the most straight forward option), however if your package is 5kg or more it's definitely worth looking around. Prices are determined based on weight.
  • Lodgement experience Straightforward, but you need access to a post office. International parcels must be lodged at the post office and a customs declaration needs to be filled out.
  • Delivery times Australia Post's current estimate for standard international shipping is 5-7 days (depending on the destination). When we tested back in 2014 it took 12-13 days (including two weekends).
  • Deliveries are dealt with by the national postal service in the destination country.
  • Cover for loss and damage isn't included unless it's registered, but you can generally purchase Extra Cover.

SkippyPost

SkippyPost positions itself as a bulk economy airmail service, sending mail to 237 countries around the world. It aggregates mail to tap into a range of deals with mail services like Singapore Post and New Zealand Post to insert parcels into the international mail system.

As SkippyPost doesn't market itself to one-off customers, it charges an $11 shipment fee on top of the postage price (which can include up to 32 parcels or a total limit of 20kg) to encourage bulk shipments.

  • Cost If you're sending a few parcels at once and speed isn't your need, it's definitely a cost-effective way to send international mail. And if you're only sending one parcel, we still found it cheaper in many cases (although maybe not always cheap enough to justify learning a new parcel sending process). Prices are determined based on weight, although large parcels use volumetric weight.
  • Lodgement experience Relatively straightforward but the process has a few steps. Parcels are posted in a post box or at a post office, after completing the lodgement online. For the online part, you need to register for an account, pay for your shipment and print off the labels, including a customs declaration. The parcel is then sent to SkippyPost via Australia Post using a reply paid address. You'll need to double-wrap the package – once for the international leg with shipping labels attached, and then again for the domestic leg with the shipping manifest included and (free) reply paid labels on the outside.
  • Delivery times Skippy Post's current estimate is 6-24 days (depending on the destination). When we tested in 2014 it took 15-16 days (including two weekends). 
  • Deliveries are generally dealt with by the national postal service in the destination country.
  • Cover for loss and damage isn't included, but a loss-cover warranty for loss or damage up to a value of $500 can be purchased. It doesn't include the reply paid leg so you'd need to purchase Extra Cover through Australia Post.

Pack & Send

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

  • Cost We didn't find it to be the cheapest or the most expensive, although it was usually more expensive than Australia Post. Prices are charged based on whichever is greater out of weight or volume.
  • Lodgement experience Parcels are lodged online and labels and customs forms printed at home before being picked up (by DHL in our 2014 test). For certain items you may need to drop it off at a service centre (limited outside city centres). Beware of extra charges: booking alteration charge ($20), incorrect weight charge ($10), futile booking charge ($20), and waiting time for driver after 10 minutes ($100 an hour charged in five minute increments).
  • Delivery times Pack & Send's current estimate is 2-3 for standard international shipping, which is much faster than Australia Post. When we tested it in 2014 it took 4-5 days (including Saturday-Sunday).
  • Deliveries To the door. Beware the $15 redelivery charge if the recipient isn't there to collect the parcel.
  • Cover for loss and damage isn't included but Freight plus Warranty cover can be purchased.

Interparcel

Many of the big couriers don't provide services to one-off customers. Interparcel works to fill that gap, operating as a parcel broker between individuals and courier companies such as UPS, TNT and FedEx.

  • Cost For heavier parcels (more than 5kg) we found Interparcel to be the cheapest in most cases.
  • Lodgement experience Parcels are lodged online and labels and customs forms printed at home before being picked up (by TNT in our 2014 test). Beware of extra charges: for example, you may be charged administration fees for entering an incorrect weight (although the website doesn't say how much).
  • Delivery times Interparcel's estimate may vary depending on the carrier however we found in our scenarios (above) the estimate is 1-4 days. In our 2014 test it took 4-5 days (including Saturday-Sunday).
  • Deliveries To the door, but if the recipient is not available to collect the goods, there may be a redelivery fee, depending on the provider. 
  • Cover for loss and damage is included with cover up to $100 in value if the shipment requires a signature and you can purchase extra if you need it. 

Ship 2 Anywhere

Ship 2 Anywhere has partnered with DHL to enable customers to make one-off international shipments with them.

  • Cost In our price check we didn't find it to be the cheapest. Prices are charged based on weight or volumetric weight, whichever is greater.
  • Lodgement experience Parcels are lodged online with labels and customs forms printed at home before being picked up (by DHL in our test).
  • Days to arrive Ship2Anywhere's current estimates vary from same day delivery to 2 days. In our 2014 test it took 4-5 days (including Saturday-Sunday).
  • Deliveries To the door. If the recipient isn't home, a calling card is left and they can either redirect it or arrange a redelivery.
  • Cover for loss or damage is included for free up to the value of $500 and you can purchase extra if needed.


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