Shipping Through Paypal


Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009-2012

If you have a Paypal account and a scale, you can take advantage of Paypal’s shipping label service. This will help you set up your account to print labels with postage:

1. Log in to Paypal, you’ll be on the “My Account” tab viewing the “Overview” page.

2. Click the “Profile” link to go to the Profile Summary page (the main link, not one of the options on the pop up menu).

3. On the left click “My selling tools”, and page down to “Shipping my items”, and see the “Shipping preferences” entry–click link on the right side to “update”.

4.There you can select your default shipping carrier and opt to display the ship button next to transactions on the “My Account” page. Save each of your changes.

5. At the end of that page, see “Display Ship Button”. Check the boxes you’d like, then click the orange “save” button. This will enable the button on the main “overview” page next to applicable transactions.

6. Now go back to the “My Account Overview” page. You should see a column that is labeled “Order status/Actions”, in it a drop down menu for printing shipping labels should now appear for payments you’ve received (you also have the option of just adding tracking info or just marking a package as shipped).

If you click the link and ship the package through it, the ship button will change to say Shipped, Track. Clicking “Track” will take you to the tracking page for the service you sent the package through.

    Important Notes:

  • Every domestic label you print through Paypal will get Delivery Confirmation automatically–you can’t opt out of it.
  • Delivery Confirmation is free on First Class packages & Priority Mail packages.
  • First Class Mail Envelopes/Packages with Delivery Confirmation must be at least 3/4 inch thick or in a rigid mailer (see here for 10.2.2 Eligible Matter), or it will be bumped up to Priority Mail. (And it may arrive “postage due” for the amount between the price you paid and the rate for sending the package Priority Mail.)

You can even use Paypal shipping if your customer didn’t pay you using Paypal–see here:

Shipping Through Paypal
Regardless of How the Customer Paid

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

New York Sales Tax–continued

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2010-2012
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

This post is a continuation of our “New York Sales Tax” post.

5. Employer Identification Number:

Your business may not be required to get a:

Taxpayer Identification Number (also referred to as TIN),
Employer Identification Number, EIN, or
Federal Taxpayer Identification Number, FTIN.

These all refer to the same thing, I don’t know why it goes by so many names!

You’ll need to check the IRS website to see if you have to get one–there’s a link in our “The IRS Website–Links for Businesses” post. While we didn’t need to get one, we chose to, see the linked post for my reason.

If you have an EIN and you register with NY to collect sales tax, your NY Sales Tax ID Number will be the same as your EIN. Just having an EIN does **NOT** mean you are allowed to collect NY sales tax, you must apply for a “Certificate of Authority to Collect Sales Tax” before you are permitted by the state to collect sales tax. (Links to apply for your NYS Certificate of Authority, EIN and other business info will be posted shortly.)

6. Certificate of Authority:

Having a NY Tax ID means you have a NY State “Certificate of Authority” to collect NY sales tax. (Links to apply: NY Business Info)

Certain business tool, supply & promotional purchases can be made tax exempt when you have NY tax id–see here:

NY State Sales Tax Exemption Forms

7. Collect Sales Tax from Customers, then Remit it to the State

Once you have your NYCertificate of Authority, you collect sales tax from your customers who have packages shipped to New York addresses, and report and pay the sales tax you collect to NYS.

The New York State Department of Taxation & Finance sends you the paperwork once you have been approved to collect sales tax with instructions for collecting from your customers and remitting the money you collect to NYS.

For us, the first year we were required to file quarterly. After the first year, the state assessed our business to be small enough that now we only file once a year. Sales tax is completely separate from your annual state and federal income taxes.

8. You can’t over-charge or under-charge NY sales tax.

I asked the state employees, repeatedly, in hopes of learning it would be ok to so I could either charge a higher rate and refund any overage or I could charge a lower rate and make up the difference out of pocket. The response was always no.

Along that same line, the payment receipt, like the Paypal receipt, must show the accurate amount of sales tax collected:

“You must separately state the total amount of sales tax due on any receipt or invoice that you give to your customer.”

See it on this NYS web page–the last sentence in the paragraph under “Showing the sales tax on the invoice”:

Tax Bulletin ST-860 (TB-ST-860)

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2010-2012
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

Getting a Handle on International Shipping

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2015
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

Before we get to postage there are two important things about packaging your international shipments:

1. Always use a customs form, and if it is something you sold you should check the box for ‘merchandise’ or ‘other’, whichever your form has on it. The “gift” option on a customs form is only for when you are sending a gift free of charge from yourself to someone you know, both buyer & seller can get in trouble if they are caught using it inappropriately–see FabricOverspill‘s post here.

Customs forms are easy to fill out so don’t let them scare you away from international shipping–to & from names, addresses, package contents, monetary value & then you sign it. More help for customs forms here: Do I need a customs form?

When paying for your postage at the post office counter, the clerk will need to manually enter the info that you wrote on the customs form into their computer so allow a little more time for going to the post office.

When using electronic/online postage (like through USPS.com’s Click-N-Ship or Paypal & Etsy’s labels services) the customs form will be automatically generated & electronically submitted when you create the label, so you can just sign it (you can also set your accounts to automatically sign the customs form for you) & drop it in any mail receptacle or take it to the counter where the clerk should just scan it in & the customs form data will already be in their system.

For First Class International (which includes Priority International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority International Small Flat Rate), the online postage’s customs form & label will all fit on the half-sheet label (or a half sheet of paper if you don’t use labels).

When shipping all other services you’ll need the more complex customs form–just as easy to fill out, it’s just that it is in triplicate (carbonless copies) when you fill it out at the PO so it prints out on several sheets of paper when you generate it at home on your printer.

You’ll need to secure the pages in a sleeve on the outside of the package that customs can open if they see fit. The PO supplies them free–you can get them at the counter (even before you need them) or order them online to be delivered free to your home (just like you can get Priority Mail boxes delivered to your home for free): Customs Form Envelope

2. Always include a receipt that reflects the contents & the price as seen on the customs form (having the recipient info there is good too–both for customs and in case the package/label gets damaged in transit).

I know a lot of folks don’t bother with receipt of any kind when mailing out their goods, but with international packages it is important to have it in the package–and required by law in some countries. If you are shipping to Germany–be sure to include 2 copies of the invoice on the outside of the package in an accessible sleeve/envelope. More on that here.

If customs decides to stop your package (they do random picks), they will try to confirm the package value, and if your package has supporting documents inside that match what the customs form declares, they will usually go with that. If you don’t have the price & description of the goods inside, or are missing a customs form and/or receipt all together, they can guess at the value, and it is usually a much higher guess than what was actually paid causing a hassle for your customer.

Pricing Your Shipping

We struggled with setting prices for international shipping, but after some research we came up with this breakdown of the rates–one for domestic packages & three for international destinations:

• United States (on Etsy you’ll also need “United States Minor Outlying Islands” and US Territories each as its own entry at the USA rate, shipping USPS the rates are the same as domestic zone 9 shipping)
• Canada
• Mexico
• Everywhere Else

(There are easy to read charts further down the page–after all the details of why this is how to easily set it up with reasonable accuracy…)

A lot of that decision was based on this info, looking at shipping via International First Class:

Size:
• Packages up to 4 pounds
• No more than 24 inches long
• No more than 36 inches in combined length, height, and depth
• At least large enough to accommodate the postage, address, customs form, and other required elements on the address side.

Source: USPS International Mail Manual
From the “240 First-Class Mail International” page, from the “241 Description and Physical Characteristics, 241.242 Dimensions” section: http://pe.usps.gov/text/imm/immc2_016.htm#ep2368227

(There’s more info there about other packaging too if you need it.)

I took a look at the country list here:

Country Listing:
http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immpg.htm

and saw that for First Class International, Canada and Mexico were the only countries in zones 1 & 2 (respectively). All other countries are in zones 3 through 9. Then I looked at this chart:

First-Class Mail International:
http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/notice123.htm#2949345

and saw that for packages up to 2 oz, the rate was the same anywhere in the world.

For packages over 2 oz, zones 1 & 2 are significantly less expensive than other zones–that’s Canada and Mexico respectively, our North American neighbors. We give them each their own rate in our listings.

Everywhere Else: For packages over 2 oz shipping out of N. America, there are only two price groups for First Class. All other countries fall in zones 3 to 5, and zones 6 to 9 but the rates for those two groups are pretty similar, with less than $1.00 difference between the two groups for all weights up to 4 lbs.

Since there are so many countries with rates that are nearly the same for zones 3-5 and 6-9, I just lump them together as Everywhere Else and charge based on zone 3-5 rates (the higher of the two groups). That way we’re never shorting ourselves on shipping charges, and the over-charge is never more than $1.00.

If you look at the chart below, you can see how the zones compare (rates effective May 31, 2015):

~~~ Click image for a larger view–opens in a new tab or window ~~~

International First Class Packages

(Click for a larger view)



You can confirm those rates–as you should all info you get from unofficial sources–in this official PDF download from USPS:
http://pe.usps.com/cpim/ftp/manuals/dmm300/Notice123.pdf or on their official website here: USPS Price List.

What if someone buys 2 items???? See these posts:

How Etsy’s “Secondary Shipping” works

Figuring Out Your Secondary Shipping

Now that you have a feel for the international shipping zones & package size restrictions, you don’t even need the USPS website’s shipping calculator to estimate your shipping costs, which often hides the First Class rates.

If you don’t have a scale to weigh your packages you can take them to the PO and get weights for items that you’ll typically ship, but a scale is really worth its weight in gold for the convenience of printing out shipping labels (through Paypal Shipping, USPS Shipping Assistant, or other services from home).

Need to insure your International First Class package?

USPS doesn’t offer insurance for this service but you can insure through third-party insurers for less than USPS charges for domestic packages. See the “Shipping Insurance” post on the main Shipping page of this blog–link on the right in gold under “Pages”, or click here:

Shipping Basics

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2015
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

International First-Class Mail:Print Labels From Your Computer

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2012
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

Print Labels for First Class International Mail
(and all other services)

If you like printing your shipping labels from your computer & want the option to ship to buyers via First Class International Mail without a subscription to a postage service (since Paypal labels with postage doesn’t offer First Class International labels yet & neither does USPS’s online Click n Ship service), the free, download-able program Click-N-Ship® for Business can help (formerly known as the USPS Shipping Assistant).

Using a Mac? See below, as the Click-N-Ship for Business only works on Windows computers.

It is a small program that you download from the USPS website, and it allows you to print labels for both domestic and international shipments. You can ship First Class, Priority Mail or any other service the USPS offers with labels generated through this program. It’s free and easy to use. (If you are having trouble getting it to work, please see the info below for Mac users–even if you are using Windows.)

What’s the catch?

You can’t pay for postage with it (unless you have a subscription postage service). You just affix postage stamps to the package in addition to the label. When I am at the post office, I pick up some stamps of varying values to cover the bases–75¢, 45¢, 20¢, 10¢, 5¢, 2¢ and 1¢. I keep enough on-hand to make up postage for any combo I might need plus, I think it’s kind of fun to get a package with a fun mix of stamps on it.

Please note: All packages heavier than 13 ounces with only postage stamps to cover the price of shipping must be taken to the post office to be shipped, both for domestic and international mailing.

Then why use it?

  • You get a nicely printed label for your package to help speed it through the system & the discounted electronic rate for Delivery Confirmation for domestic mail (free).
  • You get the shipping history for your packages in the program that you can also export as an Excel file.
  • You can easily recreate labels for repeat customers so you don’t have to re-input their address (be sure to check they haven’t moved before you print!).
  • It prints the customs form right on the label for international & APO/FPO/DPO* labels.
  • It electronically submits your customs form data, which means under 13 oz packages with stamps for postage & these labels can be dropped in any mail box/left for pick up.

Shipping internationally?

When Click-N-Ship for Business prints the customs form right on the label for you–it has lines for the information as you fill out the label details–it submits the info to USPS online and prints the label out ready to ship, except for the postage, of course!

Click-N-Ship for Business–download it here:

https://www.usps.com/business/click-n-ship-for-business.htm

Helpful tip:
For packages going to the
UK use Great Britain & Northern Ireland

Got a Mac?
While you can’t use the downloaded version of this program you can print the same labels online here (thanks for the tip FGVminiATURES for the tip):

https://webapps.usps.com/customsforms

This tool also electronically submits your customs form data, which means under 13 oz packages with stamps for postage can be dropped in any mail box/left for pick up.

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

*APO/FPO/DPO destinations come at the end of the list of US States in the domestic label form.

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2012
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

bloke

Accepting Credit Cards Online: A Paypal Alternative

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2008

We’ve been accepting credit card payments for sales through Paypal for years, but last year we decided to try Google Checkout:

Google Checkout
(affiliate link)

We’ve been very happy with their service, and really like how our money is automatically transferred to our bank account.

We don’t have to log in and tell them to send us our money, and instead of taking three to four days for it to show up in our account, it takes only two days.

The fees are lower than Paypal: 2% + $0.20 per transaction.
Update as of May 2009–the fees are now the same as Paypal:
2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Currently it’s only available to sellers in the US and UK, they are working on expanding, but it’s available to buyers in over 140 countries.

As of January 2008, these countries are able to pay using Google Checkout:

Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Angola
Antigua & Barbuda
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bermuda
Bolivia
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Botswana
British Indian Ocean Territory
Brunei
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Côte d’Ivoire
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Estonia
Faroe Islands
Finland
France
Gabon
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kuwait
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Nepal
Netherlands Antilles
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto RicoQatar
Romania
Russia
Rwanda
San Marino
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia and Montenegro
Seychelles
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Togo
Trinidad & Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vatican City
Venezuela
Vietnam
Virgin Islands, British
Yemen
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Need to send an email invoice
through Google Checkout?

See this post: Send a Google Checkout invoice


Missing package? Package missing its contents?

If you have a package that

  • is missing en-route,
  • has Delivery Confirmation that says it’s delivered but the customer doesn’t have it,
  • you suspect was stolen,
  • has been rifled through or
  • has arrived without its contents

it may be time to contact the post office.  Shipping times may vary for different times of the year as well as different regions throughout the US, but if it’s been three weeks and you didn’t send it “Media Mail”, it’s probably time to look for it.

First, we ask the receiver to look around their porch, back door, garage, etc., and to check with the neighbors to see if the postal employee left it with them. It might seem obvious, but often packages are left where you wouldn’t expect to find them, and sometimes well-intentioned neighbors hold onto a package accidentally for a month. (Feel free to share the odd places you’ve found packages in the comments below!)

If you purchased Delivery Confirmation (DC), insurance or paid for one of the higher end services that includes a tracking number, you should start by calling one of three places:

  • the post office you sent it from,
  • the post office you sent it to or
  • the USPS toll free number 1-800-ASK-USPS

They will call each other about the missing package to see if it’s in either of the post offices. They can track the package using the DC number, even if you’ve already checked on-line, they are privy to more details that might help.

We had a package that was missing, and when I called the destination post office and the toll free hotline number they both saw that the package had arrived at the destination post office though I couldn’t see that online using the DC number. The destination post office said that they didn’t know what happened to it after that. The toll free number folks said all they do is call the destination post office, and, well, I already knew what they had to say…

When I asked the hotline person what happens next, they said nothing, that’s the end of the line. They told me that unless I bought insurance there is nothing else that can be done, but I found out that’s not true.

I asked the hotline person if the info was gathered someplace, so if lots of packages go missing they get an idea of what location/route was having issues. They said no, that’s it.

I just couldn’t believe that this information was unimportant, so after a good deal of research that I found the US Postal Inspector’s website. I don’t know why it was so hard to come across this information, nor why the USPS Help Hotline wouldn’t have directed me there when there was nothing else they could do, but it was and they didn’t.

Happily our package turned up–I think had I not been persistant with keeping the post office looking for it I would have had to re-send the shipment and take a business loss.

Even if you didn’t purchase insurance or delivery confirmation, you can report your missing package/missing contents to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by filling out this form:

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MLNtRcvd.aspx

If you prefer to mail it to them, you can print out the mail theft report–it’s a PDF file:

http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/Mail_Theft_Complaints.pdf

You may not get your money or goods back, but you can help the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and thereby everyone who uses the US Postal Service, by reporting any of the issues at the top of this post. If they aren’t made aware of problems, they won’t have a chance to fix them.

You can contact them by phone also by calling 1-877-876-2455 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in all time zones:

https://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/tollfreeno.htm

or check out their entire website for more info:

http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

Marking Your Package "Gift" on the Customs Form

Occasionally you’ll have an international buyer request that a package be sent with the “gift” box checked on the customs form, rather than “documents”, “commercial samples”, or “other items”. If the package isn’t a gift, I won’t mark it as one.

First off, marking your package as a gift will not automatically make it exempt from customs fees, from the usps.com site:

“Items declared as gifts may still be subject to duty and taxes.”
http://faq.usps.com/eCustomer/iq/usps…

Secondly, I prefer to run our business as legally as possible, which means not taking part in activities for which I could end up in legal trouble. In each section of the Postal Service Employee’s Acceptance rules for international packages it has the following info:

123.712 Postal Service Employee’s Acceptance of PS Form 2976
The Postal Service acceptance employee must do the following when accepting PS Form 2976 from the sender:
a. Instruct the sender how to complete, legibly and accurately, PS Form 2976, as required. The sender’s failure to complete the form properly can delay delivery of the item or inconvenience the sender and addressee. Moreover, a false, misleading, or incomplete declaration can result in the seizure or return of the item and/or in criminal or civil penalties. The Postal Service assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information that the sender enters on PS Form 2976.

Source: http://pe.usps.gov/text/imm/immc1_008.htm

So rather than risk criminal or civil penalties, we’ll be checking the appropriate box for the order. How about you?

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics