International shipping terms and conditions should outline your duties as a provider to a customer, and should also outline their obligations to you as the provider.
An international shipping terms and conditions will likely differ from a local one as the delivery times, cost and method will not be the same. Therefore, it’s common for businesses to have separate shipping terms and conditions for their international sales.
In this article, we’ll cover the most important aspects of shipping internationally, including:
- When you should have an international shipping terms and conditions
- What you need to know about overseas suppliers and dropshipping
- Laws of overseas countries
- Product liability if a supplier is in another country
- Enforcing contracts internationally
- Other legal documents you will need
What Are Terms And Conditions?
Most commercial transactions will require terms and conditions. It will mitigate any risks around the transaction and sets out what will happen if something goes wrong on either end.
The terms and conditions of a contract outline the obligations and rights each party to the contract has. Consumers or users of a website, for example, will need to agree to these specific terms before they can engage with your business.
On the internet, agreements outlining particular terms and conditions are not only common but necessary as it limits the liability of the website owner.
For example, you have likely seen some form of terms and conditions agreement when using a website.
Similarly, terms and conditions are used for shipping agreements or policies as they let the customer know what to expect from the transaction.
When Do I Need International Shipping Terms And Conditions?
If you are shipping outside of Australia or thinking about doing so, then you should have an international shipping terms and conditions agreement. Shipping globally opens you up to a much wider customer base, however, it’s important to do this right as there are more risks involved.
If you consider things like currency, shipping rates and delays, refunds or damaged goods, these matters can get extra complex when dealt with internationally. So, your terms and conditions should account for these additional considerations when doing business overseas.
I’m Working With Overseas Suppliers – What Else Should I Know?
If your business works with overseas suppliers, such as a manufacturer who is located in North America, then it’s important to know the duties and rights of each party prior to engaging in a business relationship.
A Supply Agreement with your supplier is essential in this case as it outlines all the different aspects of your relationship so nobody is confused about their role. Generally, a Supply Agreement includes:
- Description of the goods
- Important dates and delivery times
- Cost of the items as well as how payment is to be made
- Confidentiality clauses and non compete clauses
- Termination of the contract
If a disagreement occurs with your supplier, having an agreement to turn to can be very helpful. However, an issue with overseas suppliers can be any liability over goods that are not in the condition they were expected to be.
Product Liability In Australia And Overseas
It’s crucial to consider the matter of product liability with suppliers, particularly if they are overseas as the multiple jurisdictions and distance can add further complications.
If a product reaches your customers in bad form, then it’s important to know who is liable. The agreement with the manufacturers and any other individuals or organisations who have participated in the chain of supply should consider who is liable when a product is faulty or damaged.
It’s important to also discuss and agree on the process or method of repairing such a situation when it occurs, and to incorporate this in your contracts.
For Australian-made products in Australia, customers are able to claim a refund or exchange in most cases (this is because consumers are protected under the Australian Consumer Law). It’s important to be aware of any additional responsibilities that may come from shipping overseas to another country as laws across nations will be different.
It’s always best to seek the advice of a legal professional to make sure you have covered all your legal responsibilities in terms of liability – our lawyers can help with that! Contact us today for a free chat.
Can I Enforce My Contracts Internationally?
Yes, contracts can and should be enforced internationally if you are expanding your business’ customer base outside of Australia. This is particularly important when working with overseas suppliers.
You want to make sure the terms of your contracts are enforceable in every region.
Furthermore, if a dispute arises and a legal judgment needs to be made by a court or tribunal, then all parties, regardless of where they reside, should be compelled to act in accordance with it.
An internationally enforceable contract contains clauses that take into account the need for a contract to be enforceable across borders. This is where you’d look into international arbitration clauses.
The clauses are catered to the requirements of the parties and can aid in preventing something like jurisdiction becoming a barrier to its enforceability.
If you would like to have your contracts internationally enforceable, contact us to find out more.
Should I Consider Dropshipping?
Dropshipping refers to the act of having the manufacturer ship the products to the customer directly. This way, you avoid holding items in your inventory when they’re not actually needed or being ordered by anyone.
As a business owner, if you decide to dropship the items you sell, then you won’t actually be handling the items yourself or even seeing them before they are sent off to the customer. Thus, you relinquish some of the control you have over the items.
On the other hand, it can be more cost effective and convenient to have items under a dropshipping arrangement. Especially as a small business owner, not having to stock up on items or rent out an external space for them can be particularly helpful.
If you choose to go with dropshipping as a means of getting the products to your customers, then it’s important to have a good Dropshipping Agreement in place with the manufacturer. This way, all expectations can be transparent in writing to avoid any conflicts.
This is particularly helpful for international shipping arrangements as dropshipping can be complex and risky if not done correctly.
At Sprintlaw, our expert lawyers are happy to help write up a Dropshipping Agreement for a fixed fee, contact us to find out more!
Understanding Other Country’s Laws
Expanding outside of Australia also means understanding the rules, regulations and customs of another region. It’s important to do your research and figure out if any of your shipping methods or products can be considered illegal in another country.
For example, each country has their own laws around customs. It’s essential to ensure you are adhering to them as you don’t want a customer waiting on a package that has been seized by customs because you were not compliant.
In addition to the relevant laws, you should also consider doing research into the political and economic climate of the regions you are expanding to. Certain things might be considered taboo or offensive, so do your research and make adjustments to avoid any future awkward moments.
If English is not a primarily spoken language, consider having a translated version of your website.
Accommodating your international customers and taking steps to create ease of use can greatly benefit your relationship with your customers, which can ultimately lead to less disputes, complaints or confusion down the road. Therefore, it’s good to invest in understanding all the external regions you will be expanding to.
What Else Do I Need?
There are a number of key legal documents you will need to expand your customer base outside of Australia or simply sell products online. We’ve listed a few of the most common ones below.
If you want to hire contractors to aid in your international business activities, it’s essential to have the details of your arrangement set out in writing. This is where a Contractor Agreement comes in.
It should outline the terms of your business relationship, expectations, pay rates and obligations.
eCommerce Terms And Conditions
As a business selling goods online, it’s important to have eCommerce Terms and Conditions in place if you don’t already have one. This way, you can ensure customers have been made aware of any risks associated with eCommerce and have actively agreed to it.
In other words, users will need to agree to your specific terms before they can engage with your online business.
The agreement can work to limit your liability if anything goes wrong and help to ease disputes. Furthermore, it can be catered to fit the needs of your business.
Jenny sells skincare products online. She makes sure to clearly list all the ingredients for customers to read before purchasing them.
However, her terms and conditions state that she is not responsible for any reactions caused to an individual’s skin by the products, limiting her liability if a customer happens to be intolerant to something they bought from her.
If you are expanding your shipping internationally, then it’s highly advisable to be informed of the privacy laws in different regions and update your policy to reflect these requirements.
Shipping internationally is a great way to expand your reach to customers. However, there are a number of things to get right first. One of the most important considerations is your legal documentation to ensure you’ve got all your risks covered. We’ve discussed some important ones in this article, to summarise:
- If you are shipping internationally, international terms and conditions can set out the key terms of your transactions with overseas customers
- Working with overseas suppliers means accounting for matters such as liability when something goes wrong
- Internally enforceable contracts can cater to the cross border nature of a business
- Dropshipping is a popular option to simplify the shipping process and cut costs for your business
If you would like a consultation on shipping internationally, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligations chat.
Need legal help?
Get a free, fixed-fee quote.
We'll get back to you within 1 business day.