2019 Shipping Guide: Find the Best International Shipping Companies for LTL, Ocean, Air

It’s become a lot easier to buy and sell around the globe thanks to the internet and the improvement in parcel and freight shipping internationally over the last 25 years. Now, companies can sell anywhere in the world and handle overseas shipping easily.

Are you looking to start shipping internationally? If you are, it’s important to compare the top international shipping companies so that you can choose the right fit for you and your business.

There are quite a few international shipping services, which can make finding the one you want to use harder. Not all of them will offer international shipping to all countries, and some will only ship overseas, but won’t handle domestic LTL shipping.

The best international freight shipping services will offer you flexibility, including small parcel shipments, large freight shipments, and ocean and air options. If you’re able to do most of your shipping with a single freight shipping company, then you can often get better discounts based upon your volume.

You don’t want to find out after you’ve decided to use an international shipping company that they don’t go to all the countries you ship to or can’t handle certain international freight shipping, such as hazardous goods if you need it.

Best International Shipping Companies

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best International Shipping Companies

How do you find the best international shipping companies? It’s best to not rush into any overseas shipping and instead do your homework and ask lots of questions before you decide to contract with a company for your shipments.

You’ll likely have several questions when beginning your search for the best international shipping company, such as:

  • Do all shipping companies offer international standard shipping?
  • What does standard international shipping generally cost?
  • What should you look for in the fastest international shipping companies?
  • Who are the most trusted international shipping companies?
  • Do international freight shipping companies also do LTL shipping?

Our AdvisoryHQ 2019 overseas shipping guide, will help you better understand shipping worldwide and provide a review of the top six best companies for shipping internationally.

If you’re interested in shipping internationally or just want to find a better company to handle your overseas shipping, read on for everything you need to know.

See Also: Best Shipping Companies in the World | Fast, Biggest, Drop Shipping Companies (Reviews)

AdvisoryHQ’s List of Top 6 Best Worldwide Shipping Companies

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the international standard shipping companies below to go directly to the detailed review section for that standard international shipping company):

Top 6 Best International Shipping Companies | Brief Comparison & Ranking

International Shipping Companies2019 Ratings
DB Schenker3
R+L Carriers3
YRC Freight3

Table: Top 6 Best International Shipping Companies | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Understanding Overseas Shipping & International Shipping Companies

If you’ve never done any standard international shipping before, trying to understand the type of paperwork that needs to be filled out and the many terms and acronyms can be confusing. 

Additionally, some countries that you do freight shipping to have requirements that are different than others. For example, some countries in the Middle East require the shipping invoice to be stamped by your local Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond learning the freight shipping terms like FOB (free on board), AWB (airway bill), and BOL (bill of lading), if you’re looking for companies shipping internationally, you’ll need to compare your needs to their services.

international freight shipping

Overseas Freight Shipping

Do you want the cheapest international shipping, the fastest international shipping, or something else entirely? It can be difficult to know which carrier to choose if you aren’t even sure what actually makes for the best international shipping companies.

Choosing who’s the best international shipping company is somewhat subjective. One person might choose the cheapest international shipping company, while another may care more about available delivery ports when shipping worldwide.

However, there are certain common traits that represent standard international shipping best practices and just good custom service, such as:

  • Being on time
  • Having an excellent customer support
  • Offering customs clearance assistance
  • Delivering air, ocean, or LTL shipping goods intact with no damage
  • Offering multiple destination options for international freight shipping

You want to begin your search for international shipping services knowing ahead of time what to look for in a top freight shipping firm. Here are several considerations when choosing your international shipping company.


What types of rates you’ll be paying and any discounts offered is usually one of the most important things to look at when comparing international shipping services. But just because you find overseas shipping at a cheap price, doesn’t mean it’s going to have the same support as a more expensive carrier. So, you want to keep other factors in mind as well when looking for the cheapest international shipping companies.

Speed of Delivery

Customers tend to want their shipments as fast as possible, and in some cases, you may need to get something shipped internationally in just a matter of 48-72 hours. That’s when you want to find the fastest international shipping options.

Whether you need documents delivered via overnight shipping or need to ship a pallet of materials expedited air freight rather than ocean or LTL shipping, having a carrier that can handle critical situations can be a lifesaver. Just be aware that the fastest international shipping and cheapest international shipping will not usually be synonymous.

Remote Area Delivery

Shipping worldwide means that your customers could be anywhere around the world and may not live near a major city. When shipping internationally to a variety of destinations, how far your carrier will go into rural areas can be a key consideration.

If they use a 3rd party carrier for the “last leg” of the journey, you will want to know that as it could impact your international shipping tracking, and possibly the quality of service.

Hazardous Materials Handling

Certain good are considered hazardous and require special shipment packaging and documentation with their international freight shipping. If you ship products that fall under special handling as dangerous goods, then you’ll want to ensure that your international freight shipping company can handle them, because not all will ship hazardous materials.

Weekend Delivery

Do you need a package delivered on a Saturday? Make sure you ask which days the worldwide shipping company that you are considering delivers. The best international shipping carriers will deliver on Saturdays, which could be important if your customer needs a delivery as soon as possible.

Weight Limits & Size Restrictions

Make sure you understand the weight limits and size restrictions of the international shipping services that you are considering. If you end up spending time and money palletizing a large shipment, then find out it’s over the weight limit of the best international shipping company you choose, it can mean you have to redo everything.

Many of the global carriers will have standard international shipping size and weight restrictions listed on their website for reference.

Tracking Capabilities

Few things are more frustrating when trying to see where a shipment is than to have unhelpful international shipping tracking that says something generic like “in transit” but doesn’t say where it is or when delivery is expected.

The best worldwide shippers use international shipping tracking that allows you to track a shipment throughout a journey and give you an update whenever the shipment is scanned at the next leg of the journey.  

This is something that can save a lot of frustration and ensure customers have international shipping tracking that lets them know exactly when their shipment will arrive.

Customer Support

When you call for international shipping services, do you get help right away or are you in a never-ending phone tree? If you’ve got a critical shipment that didn’t get picked up on time or is lost somewhere in transit, having a standard international shipping company that is there when you need them, makes a big difference and can save hours of frustration.

It might seem overwhelming initially, but by coming up with a list of what factors are essential to you, such as overnight shipping or remote area delivery, you can narrow down your options for the best international shipping company.

From there, it is important to compare rates, reliability, and customer service in order to select the top worldwide shipping company for your business.

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2019 Advisory HQ’s Selection Methodology

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Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best International Shipping Companies

Below, please find the detailed review of each top 2019 standard international shipping company on our list of international standard shipping services. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these international shipping companies to score so highly in our selection ranking.  

DHL Review

DHL is a company that offers worldwide shipping and should be on your radar throughout the search process. If you’re doing worldwide shipping from the United States, you may not realize DHL is an option for you since they don’t ship domestically within the U.S.

Though they don’t ship live animals, they do handle hazardous goods and are a great option if you’re shipping internationally by parcel because they deliver smaller shipments worldwide.

Beyond parcel express shipping, they offer road and rail freight in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and the Americas. They also do air and ocean international standard shipping and offer expedited air options.

DHL may be one of the rare carriers that balances both the cheapest international shipping and the fastest international shipping, by offering services like:

  • Air Priority (Urgent air freight shipping)
  • Air Connect (Fast and affordable air freight shipping)
  • Air Economy (Economical air freight shipping)

You can ship to hundreds of different countries across the globe with DHL. If you are looking for express or expedited international shipping services, DHL still fits the bill. Their vast logistical network can get your shipments from A to B overnight, and they also offer remote area delivery.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for strictly the top worldwide shipping company for international shipments, DHL is one of the most versatile and best international shipping companies. However, for U.S. domestic shipping, they will not be able to accommodate you.

With some of the best international parcel shipping prices you’ll find from the U.S. to other countries and for their wide reach, we’ve scored DHL a 5-star rating.

Related: Best Freight Forwarders & Agents | Most Popular Freight Forwarding Companies

FedEx Review

FedEx is one of the largest and best international shipping companies in the world. They offer premier shipping services that can accommodate even the most delicate and fragile items while shipping internationally. They are also able to provide climate-controlled international shipping services for perishable and temperature-sensitive items.

As an international shipper, FedEx can supply affordable prices and fast shipping times. This is one of the fastest international shipping companies and can provide overnight and even two-day delivery services for you.

FedEx international shipping prices

Standard International Shipping

If you’re doing LTL shipping, they offer both priority and economy freight shipping options with their special pallet-level tracking that gives you complete visibility into each pallet on your shipment, so you can see if one of them gets separated from the others.

FedEx offers some of the fastest international shipping for air freight shipments and has unlimited total shipment weight, although skids exceeding 2,200 lbs. require special approval.

If you’re shipping worldwide by ocean, FedEx has three ocean freight-forwarding service options and the ocean shipping internationally covers North America, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, India, the Middle East and Africa.

Because FedEx is such a large company, their customer service and litany of logistics solutions are hard to beat. You can create shipments and even find international shipping tracking right online. On top of that, they offer express delivery and even Saturday deliveries.

Bottom Line

When you are looking to integrate U.S. domestic and international shipping, FedEx is one of the best international shipping companies that also has multiple U.S. locations to make dropping off parcel shipments convenient.

With some of the fastest international shipping as well as domestic services, FedEx scores 5 stars.

UPS Review

UPS is another household name when it comes to international shipping companies. Though most known throughout the United States for domestic shipping, they have resources in 220 countries and territories around the world.

If you are looking to ship domesticated animals, UPS is one of the international shipping companies that can actually handle this service. They also carry hazardous goods and can deliver almost all parcel packages within five days of receiving them. For rush services, they offer overnight and two-day delivery, though the cost is higher.

One drawback of UPS is that there are no temperature control services offered, so I if you ship perishable items, you’ll want to find another company for shipping internationally.

UPS provides overseas shipping worldwide for the ocean and air freight shipments. They also have expedited ground freight shipping for shipments from the U.S. to Mexico, which can significantly reduce the cost of international shipping between the two countries.

Their website tools offer help with scheduling shipments, customs forms, and international shipping tracking.  They also offer a mobile dashboard to view all shipments, and advanced scheduling capabilities, which makes UPS one of the best international shipping companies around.

Bottom Line

UPS offers convenience for domestic shipping and also has robust international shipping services, including both small parcel shipments and large freight shipments.

Due to their versatility to handle nearly all types of shipping needs, UPS scores a 5-star rating.

DB Schenker Review

Headquartered in Germany, DB Schenker is one of the largest international shipping companies in the world. They have approximately 2,000 locations around the world and offer land, air, and ocean parcel and freight shipping services.

If you have smaller parcel shipments that you’re shipping worldwide, it’s important to know that DB Schenkerparcel does not typically accept dangerous goods (but their other services do) and that their parcel services are delivered “throughout Europe.” So, this particular service would not be suitable for standard international shipping to other countries.

For LTL shipping, they offer service across 720 branches throughout Europe. Their ground freight shipping does include the fastest international shipping with fixed delivery time options.

If you’re looking for worldwide shipping, they offer that through their air freight and ocean freight shipping.  They offer fixed transit times and seamless international shipping tracking online, which is a helpful feature.

If you want the cheapest international shipping, DB Schenker does offer economy air freight shipping for those looking for the best prices.

For businesses, DB Schenker offers a lot of benefits for those shipping internationally, including intermodal solutions, sensor technology (Smartbox), and solutions for perishables and food/beverage products.

Bottom Line

For international shipping services globally, DB Shenker is a great option for companies shipping air or ocean freight. If you’re shipping smaller parcels or doing LTL shipping by truck and you’re not in Europe, you’ll want to look at another best international shipping company.

We’ve rated them a 3 only due to the lack of parcel services outside Europe, but for freight shipping internationally or all types of shipping within Europe, they’re an excellent option.

R+L Carriers Review

The tagline for R+L Carriers is “We ship anything, anywhere, anytime!” This worldwide shipping company specializes in full truckload and LTL shipping with a fleet of nearly 13,000 tractors and trailers. They also provide international shipping via air and ocean.

The main coverage area for their standard international shipping is the United States, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean Islands. However, they do also offer global shipping services to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

One drawback we found is that this domestic and overseas shipping company does not really handle small parcel shipments and mainly deals with freight shipping. So, if you’re shipping smaller items than a pallet, you will probably want to look for another company for your worldwide shipping.

If you have a freight shipment that has to get there as fast as possible, R+L Carriers is one of the fastest international shipping companies, offering several expedited options including:

  • R+L Business Critical Guaranteed AM
  • R+L Business Critical Weekend Express
  • R+L Business Critical Guaranteed Hourly Window

If you have a high value or high-risk shipment or one that needs temperature control, this is a best international shipping company to use, because they’ll ship anything and take special precautions for these types of sensitive shipments. 

For companies shipping often to Mexico from the U.S., this top LTL shipping company offers Mexico transborder service.

Bottom Line

R+L Carriers is great for any type of international shipping via freight, especially if it’s a sensitive shipment. However, they don’t really handle parcel shipping, so you’ll need to look at another international standard shipping company for that.

Due to lack of small parcel services, we’ve scored R+L with 3 stars.

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YRC Freight Review

Last but not least, YRC Freight is another company offering international shipping. They are experts at LTL shipping and their coverage area is limited to North America, including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

They offer temperature-controlled shipping options for two-day and overnight delivery. However, they do not ship live animals, nor can they deliver to remote areas. This is a drawback if you are looking to deliver goods to certain rural addresses.

While YRC typically handles freight shipments, you can also schedule ground parcel shipments with YRC, but depending upon the piece count it may cost more than shipping with someone like UPS or FedEx.

Where YRC shines is that they are one of the cheapest international shipping companies if you’re shipping freight to Canada or Mexico. They have rates that consistently come in below other companies shipping internationally.

If you’re looking for the fastest international shipping, YRC has expedited options and will use air freight as needed to ensure your critical shipment arrives on time.  There are no size or weight restrictions on these international shipping services, which makes it easy to move large shipments, fast.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to send large shipments either domestically or internationally within North America, YRC Freight is one of the most economical shipping companies to consider.

Due to their limited reach, and not really being a worldwide shipping company, we’ve scored them with 3-stars.

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Conclusion – Top 6 Best Worldwide Shipping Companies

When you are trying to find international shipping companies that meet the needs of your business, you can easily become overwhelmed with all the considerations. It’s often best to start with an estimate of your total monthly average shipments and how and where they’re shipped.

Do you send most of them to a particular country? Do you ship more domestically and only need occasional international services? Do you ship parcel or freight the most? These are questions that will help you identify the top international shipping services that will match your needs best.

A few other questions you may want to consider are:

  • Do you need overnight or two-day delivery services, or do you have more lenient time frames for delivery?
  • Is remote area delivery an essential feature?
  • What is your budget for international shipping services?
  • What are the types of packages or freight you will be shipping worldwide (perishable/hazardous)?

When you are searching for the best worldwide shipping companies, you also need to know what their reputation is and whether they have a good record of on-time delivery. Just because someone’s the cheapest international shipping company, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best.

Having an idea of your budget and requirements going into the search process can help you narrow in on what is most important to you, like budget, short-term delivery timeframes, or even access to international shipping tracking.

Be sure to take the time to compare several of the best international shipping companies on our list to find the perfect fit for your shipping needs.

Image Sources:

  • https://pixabay.com/photos/antwerp-belgium-boat-container-2019989/
  • https://pixabay.com/photos/truck-american-trailer-transport-3902970/

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International Shipping Companies