Best International Shipping Companies

Are you in need of the best international shipping companies? One of the challenges of shipping goods across borders is finding the best shipping company. Read on to discover the key categories and solutions provided by a wide range of companies

Let's first break down the different categories of carriers. We start with package carriers and then discuss options for heavier cargo. To help guide your decision, we explore the renowned international shipping companies. We also review the factors our team considers for finding your best shipping option.

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International Postal Options

Local postal options are best for individuals shipping personal packages. They can also be useful for shipping e-commerce packages. All post offices are members of the Universal Postal Union or UPU. The import process for postal imports often have an advantage over commercial clearance.

  • Most post offices offer a "packet" option which provides a low cost for shipments less than 2 kilograms
  • Postal "surface" options provide the lowest cost to ship single packages via sea freight
  • Tracking and customer support is often subpar

Most postal operators are government subsidiaries. The key exceptions are the German post (which also owns DHL) and the UK Post/ Royal Mail.


Time Taken and Transit Time for international transport.

The necessary transit time can affect the best option or carrier consideration. In general, couriers delivery delivery in days, the post office in weeks and ocean in months.

Shipping with Couriers

The name brand couriers include UPS, FedEx and DHL. These companies integrate all aspects to include pickup, transport, clearance and delivery. Their core expertise is parcels shipping via air and time definite delivery. Shippers can use these services directly or via one of their partners (such as Jet Worldwide!)

  • FedEx: Federal Express is an American company with global operations. They are amongst the leaders in North America for air express and they offer ground delivery.
  • United Parcel Service: UPS is also an American company and leader across North America. They offer ground delivery as well as air express. They have subsidiaries that specialize in forwarding as well as specialty transport.
  • DHL: Owned by the Germany post and is a global leader in air express delivery. They have a third party logistics subsidiary as well.

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Difference between Shipping via the Post Office or Commercial Courier

A courier is a company that specializes in delivering packages and efficiently. They streamline solutions for shipping your items overseas. FedEx, UPS and DHL have extensive global networks.

The post office is a government-run service that handles both mail and packages. They may not offer the same level of speed and efficiency as couriers. However, they can still be a reliable option for international shipping. The post office are generally much lower for individuals shipping small packages. Postal online tools make it easy to calculate the price to send your package abroad.

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Air Cargo Carriers

FedEx, UPS and DHL also offer air cargo services. In addition, there are cargo only carriers that specialize in air freight. A significant amount of air cargo travels on passenger air craft. In most cases, access to these carries is via a third party logistics company.

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International Ocean carriers

Global ocean carriers are companies that own and operate container vessels. The vast majority of shippers access these vessels via third party logistics or 3PL's. Shippers can choose from less than container load (LCL) for full container load (FCL). Less than container load typically involves a company that consolidates shipments from multiple consignees in a single container.Read more: Understanding ocean freight.

How-to-Video:  Shipping to Canada

3PL's and Freight Forwarders

A 3PL or freight forwarder acts a go between between you and the actual transporter of your goods. They handle the logistics details on your behalf. It is now always clear how not dealing directly with the transporter can be the better options. Read more about Canadian Freight Forwarders.

A value of leading freight forwarder can include:

  • Lower negotiated rates
  • Access to multiple carriers versus a single option
  • Logistics expertise

With so many options out there, it can be challenging to find the right shipping provider. That's why we've compiled a list of the top international shipping companies with international processes and extensive networks.

international shipping companies

Primary Carriers, forwarder, 3PL and reseller

When it comes to shipping your packages internationally, there are key categories of you need to know about. All companies help get your items from one place to another, they have different roles in the process. And they all offer different levels of value.

Primary Carriers:

The primary carries include postal authorities, global couriers, air freight companies and ocean carriers. In total, there are less than around a dozen such mega carriers. These mega-companies have sales in the billions of dollars and sell to companies with shipping costs in the millions.

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Global forwarders are also mega large carriers with a mix of using cargo vessels, leased aircraft and their own trucks for inland transport. They typically deal with million dollar contracts and include customs brokerage expertise. They also offer such services as warehousing, pickup and pack, and transport via rail.


Global couriers offer access to companies who resell their services. For example, rather than having to deal directly with UPS, you may get better discounts via a reseller. For domestic transport this can work great. Especially for occasional shippers. Their expertise is usually being able to appear in google search and providing price simulation tools. But, in most cases, resellers lack true logistics expertise.

Technology - Web Platforms

Tech companies with venture capital that have built online cost comparison tools. They match up the buyer with available capacity in a way similar to forwarders.  Their technology can be impressive but they often lack in person customer support. 


Jet Worldwide

Jet Worldwide acts as both a forwarder, reseller and logistics partner. We are the leading online resource for international shipping to and from Canada. We support global projects for shipping to Europe, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, Middle East and globally.

Our best in class logistics team works with you to build the best solution. Using the best international shipping companies with transparency, trust and global expertise.

Other Factors to Consider beyond choice of Carriers

There are countless companies who offer various versions of services. Most use some variations of the major options. Keep in mind that the choice of a carrier is actually just one of many considerations.

Here are other factors to consider:

Customs clearance

When shipping packages via the post or courier, customs brokerage is usually included. However heavier shipments and those of a higher value require customs brokerage. Most forwards can recommend a customs broker. Read more about Canadian customs brokers.

Declaring the correct value

Part of the clearance process includes ensuring you are declaring the correct value. Verifying the correct value for international shipping.

Tariff Classification

It is important for all companies to become familiar with tariff classification,or HS Code.Useful information regarding HS Classification.

Free Trade Agreements

Your shipments may benefit from duty free import. Verify the benefit of Canadian free trade agreements.

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