Lesson 9

eBay Beginner's Tips: Packing and Shipping

You've made a sale, great! Now how do you ship the item to your buyer in a fast time frame, without damaging the item... and while not eating into your profit margins? Here's a quick-start guide: 

How do I work out shipping costs?

Shipping costs vary depending on:

  • Weight & dimensions of the package
  • Method of shipment - airmail, surface mail, fast-post
  • The location you're shipping from
  • The location you're shipping to
  • Whether or not you include insurance - or whether or not the carrier includes it automatically.

Also read: What is ePacket Shipping?

If you're shipping internationally, usually it's the buyer who pays for shipping and any additional costs that are incurred, such as insurances, duties, taxes and customs clearance fees.

In some instances an 'extended area surcharge' may apply to your buyers depending on their international locations.

It's also a good idea to include a handling charge in the shipping cost to cover your time and expenses. Be sure to specify that the cost includes a handling charge and isn't just postage. Otherwise, some buyers will feel ripped off if they see that postage only cost $4.40 and you charged $6. Yet, your time is involved in packaging and posting the item, so it's fair to cover those costs. You'll find that if you itemize a handling cost, rather than just including it with shipping, people will accept this small extra charge more readily.

One other thing - don't overdo the shipping costs. It is against eBay's rules to deliberately set out to profit on the shipping, rather than on the item itself. Because this policy was being exploited so often, eBay has recently introduced the policy of removing auctions with outsized shipping charges.


For small items, many sellers get around customs charges by sending it as a gift. It's wise to research the areas you are willing to send your items to. Some places have quite strange restrictions on goods that you would never guess unless you checked! E.g. Australia doesn't allow used bedding, Italy doesn't allow shoes.

Transit Time

One of your biggest considerations should be how quickly the buyer receives the parcel. Within your country, buyers would expect their item to arrive within a week from payment. Overseas, 1-2 weeks is acceptable.


Insurance is yet another important issue. Some carriers will automatically insure your package for up to $100, but it is wise to check on this first. If your item is worth over $100, it would be extremely foolish not to purchase insurance.

To find out shipping costs:

If you have a ZIP code, eBay's shipping calculator helps to calculate the costs involved in shipping a parcel.

Some shippers have a shipping calculator on their website.

Or do it at home the old-fashioned way with a postal scale and chart. (Postal scales can be purchased on eBay for around $20-70, not including postage).


No matter what your parcel contains, it needs to be water proof and packaged correctly so that it arrives in good condition. 

For CDs and DVDs, special mailers are an easy way to post. Other items will require a variety of packing materials to ensure proper protection.

Unsurprisingly, you can find many common packaging materials for sale on eBay. To give you an idea of prices: 60 gallon bags of packing peanuts will cost you around $12-$16 on eBay, while 200sq feet of bubble wrap will cost around $16.

Many shipping companies also offer packing supplies - or will even do it for you!

Take a look at these packaging sources:

 Do you have a question about shipping? Ask on our friendly Community Forum and get expert answers from over 100,000 online retailers who are happy to help. 

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