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Useful tips for sending clothes and garment shipments overseas efficiently

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The global fashion industry is experiencing a remarkable boom, driven by the surge in online clothes shopping and increasing garments sales. Notably, Vietnam is at the forefront of this growth, with textile and garments exports valued at US$37.57 billion in 2022, a 14.7% increase from 2021, as reported on Fibre2Fashion.  

The United States (US) is the leading importer of textiles and clothing from Vietnam, purchasing a total of US$17.36 billion worth of imports in 2022, marking a 7.9% increase from 2021. The European Union and Japan came next, with imports worth US$4.46 billion and US$4.07 billion, a rise of 34.7% and 25.8%, respectively. These statistics illustrate significant opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to expand their presence in the international fashion market. 

However, given the competitive nature of the fashion industry, businesses in Vietnam selling apparel must prioritise efficient shipping solutions. This is especially crucial when sending clothing samples to factories overseas for timely production so they can be the first to take advantage of market trends and stay ahead. 

How to pack clothes for shipping overseas 

When it comes to ensuring efficient shipment of garment overseas, the first step is to properly pack your clothing so they arrive at their destination intact. Whether you are sending fragile apparel or non-fragile pieces, following best practices for packaging your items will help maintain their integrity throughout the shipping process.

Shipping fragile clothing 

Shipping fragile clothes, such as a wedding dress, requires extra care to protect the garment’s delicate fabric and intricate details. Here are key steps to consider when preparing fragile items for overseas shipment: 

  • Shipping box:  
    • Delicate items should be packed individually in a double-wall box unless you opt for a specialised box of your preference. 
    • As the positioning of boxes is not guaranteed during transit, using packaging that depends on a specific orientation, like wardrobe boxes, is not advised when you export delicate apparel. 
  • Packing: 
    • Carefully fold the arms of the item and place acid-free tissue paper between each layer of fabric. This is particularly important for garments with embellishments to prevent them from catching on the delicate fabric. 
    • When handling the garment’s train, carefully fold the left and right sides of the train towards the centre before rolling it up meticulously. Take care to avoid any bunching or crushing. 
  • Final checks:  
    • Use small cell bubble wrap to wrap each item before placing them in the double-walled box. 
    • Make sure there's a 6cm gap between the shipment item and the sides of the box. 
    • Tape the box flaps down firmly using the H-taping method 
    • Mark the box with a “FRAGILE Contents” sticker at a spot where it is easily seen. 
    • Add the transport label where it’s most noticeable too. 

Shipping non-fragile garments 

If your business sells sturdier garments like everyday shirts, jeans, or trousers, it's important to understand that even these clothes require proper packaging. This ensures that they reach their international destination in optimal condition for manufacturing as your designer envisioned. When it comes to sending out clothing, here are some aspects to look out for: 

  • Folding: You can lay the garment flat and smooth on a clean, dry surface with the front side down and fold the sides towards the middle before folding the length of the garment in three so that the front of the shirt is on top. 
  • Shipping box: It's crucial to choose an appropriately sized box for apparel to prevent it from collapsing due to empty spaces during transit. 
  • Packing
    • Slip the clothes into a secure plastic flyer bag or a single-layer cardboard box. 
    • Ensure that every clothing item is kept distinct inside the box or flyer bag to prevent potential damage during shipping. 
    • Before placing your garments in the outer box or flyer bag, wrap each item separately using small cell bubble wrap or kraft paper. 
    • Fold over your flyer bag and tape down any excess material. 
  • Final checks: Be sure to position the transport label in a spot where it's easily noticeable. 

Shipping Shoes 

When it comes to dispatching shoes from Vietnam, the choice of packaging plays a vital role in ensuring the merchandise arrives in pristine condition. An important factor to consider is that the shoe boxes containing the products are not robust enough for the demands of international shipping. As a result, it's imperative to take extra precautions when preparing your item for shipment. Depending on the weight and value of your order, there are two methods to consider: 

Low-value single piece under 3kg:

  • Insert the fully closed shoe box into a large flyer bag. 
  • Once the item is safely inside, seal the flyer bag tightly and fold over any excess material, taking care to tape down the excess material. 
  • Lastly, attach a legible transport label in a visible location. 

High-value or multiple pieces over 3kg:

  • Begin by adhering to the basic packing instructions and place your packed items within a sturdy outer box for added protection. 
  • If there's any void space within the outer box, fill it with bubble wrap, foam peanuts, or crumpled paper to prevent the contents from shifting during shipping. 
  • Secure the box flaps with the H-taping method to ensure it is sealed well. 
  • As with the previous method, apply the transport label where it is clearly visible and can be read easily. 

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that the shoes you're shipping, whether they're high heels, sneakers, or boots, will reach their international destination in the same condition they left your business. This small investment of time and resources can significantly enhance your brand's reputation and customer satisfaction. 

How to ship clothes internationally 

Besides ensuring that garments are packed well, understanding the customs regulations of destination countries for import and export, such as the US, Europe and Japan, is also essential for a seamless shipping experience from Vietnam. 

Garment import and export regulations 

Each country may have specific restrictions regarding garment imports and exports. For instance, when shipping clothing to South Korea, businesses should be mindful of adhering to the Special Act on Safety Management of Children's Products. This policy encompasses stipulations related to hazardous substances and the physical safety of clothes, textile and leather products designed for infants and children under the age of 13.  

For other Asian countries like Japan, it's advisable to include the scientific name of the animals on the invoices when importing garments crafted from animal hides. This is because a mere general name may not be sufficient for the customs to ascertain if the animal used for the material is on the CITES list or is commercially raised. For goods that contain portions made of animal fur or feathers that are regulated by the Japanese authorities, an export certificate or a certificate of lawful capture from Vietnam’s regulatory authorities is required. 

Meanwhile, the US requires the garment industry to comply with specific requirements on the flammability of textiles. Similarly, in European countries like the UK, there are stringent regulations concerning the safety of clothing shipments, particularly when it pertains to fire hazards. For specific items like pyjamas, babies' garments, cotton terry towelling bath robes and adults' nightwear, there are explicit requirements on labelling, label font and visibility, and label placement. 

When exporting personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety clothing or gloves to the European Union (EU), adhering to the specific EU safety guidelines is also essential. These guidelines cover design, production, materials, testing, and user instructions for PPE. If biocides are incorporated into the garments to safeguard people, animals, or objects from detrimental organisms like pests or bacteria, you must adhere to the EU's regulations on biocidal products. 

Modes of shipping garment and clothes internationally 

Before exporting your products, you will also have to select an appropriate shipping mode. One option that offers several advantages for the fashion industry is express door-to-door delivery, such as those offered by DHL Express Vietnam.  

By leveraging our expertise and global delivery network, you can ensure smoother and more efficient deliveries as quick as one to two working days for Asia lanes and two to three for the US and EU lanes. With reduced transit times, this shipping method is particularly advantageous as it expedites the process of sending samples to manufacturers overseas for production, enabling your firm to stay ahead in the fast-paced industry and be the first to grab the lion’s share in fashion trends.  

An added benefit of DHL Express Vietnam's door-to-door delivery service is our comprehensive control of the entire shipping journey. We handle everything, from collecting the shipment at your premises to ensuring timely delivery at the recipient’s doorstep. The transparent pricing adds to the convenience, eliminating unexpected surprises arising from hidden charges. By consolidating all logistics under a single provider, your business can benefit from a streamlined shipping process and reduced risks that come with handovers between multiple parties. 

Besides express shipping by air, ground shipping is also available. This method involves using trucks or trains and strikes a balance between cost and speed. However, it also limits your business expansion to neighbouring countries connected by land to Vietnam. 

Meanwhile, sea shipping, while more budget-friendly for large shipments, can be affected by factors from port delays to unpredictable sea conditions, leading to less reliable estimated delivery dates. Even with speedier ships and ongoing optimisation of maritime routes, sea shipping may stretch into weeks. In contrast, express air shipping promises delivery within just a few days. Such reliability positions air shipments as the top choice for businesses keen on establishing a robust international presence in the garments industry. 

Required documents for cross-border deliveries 

To avoid delays or complications during shipping, you will also want to ensure that you have prepared all the essential documents for a smooth customs clearance experience. In general, some common shipping documents required for overseas garment shipments include (but are not limited to): 

  • Airway Bill: Airway bills accompany goods sent through international air carriers. They provide in-depth details about the consignment and enable shipment tracking. Unlike "order" bills of lading used in sea transport, airway bills are specific to the shipper and are non-negotiable documents. 
  • Commercial Invoice: An official document issued by the seller to the buyer. It provides detailed information about the transaction, including a description of the products, quantity, price, delivery and payment terms, and other relevant details. It serves as a record of the sale and is used by customs authorities to assess and determine customs duties and taxes. 
  • Certificate of Origin: A certified document that proves the origin of goods in international trade. It's used to determine whether certain goods are eligible for import, if they are subject to duties, or qualify for special treatment. 

Make sure to check the specific requirements of the destination country or consult with a reliable shipping partner to ensure compliance with all necessary documentation. 

Environmentally friendly shipping solutions 

As sustainability and adhering to international standards for green practices grow in importance worldwide, it’s also imperative to consider aspects beyond quick deliveries. Notably, the emphasis on sustainability has become a pressing concern for textile enterprises in Vietnam. According to Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, major garment export destinations such as the US, EU, Japan, and South Korea are increasingly demanding vendors to apply eco-friendly manufacturing processes. 

With more countries setting sustainability criteria for garments and textiles entering their markets, adopting this sustainable approach becomes even more pertinent. By partnering with a logistics provider like DHL Express Vietnam, businesses can not only guarantee swift and safe deliveries but also align themselves with sustainable practices. DHL Express Vietnam's GoGreen Plus service, for instance, offers a significant advantage by helping companies reduce 30% of their shipment's carbon emissions.

This reduction is made possible by leveraging Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which can potentially reduce shipment lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional fuels. Such a proactive stance aligns with the Science Based Target initiative, marrying speed with sustainability in deliveries. Above all, the entire process is subject to a stringent annual audit by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), ensuring adherence to the highest standards of sustainability. 

Unlock the global market with smooth international shipping 

Shipping clothes overseas requires careful planning and thorough understanding of laws and regulations. However, navigating these requirements to expand your reach in the global market successfully can be challenging if your business is new to international shipping.

This is where partnering with a reliable and experienced logistics provider such as DHL Express Vietnam can add value to your operations. By choosing DHL Express Vietnam, you can leverage our gaining expertise and shipping advice to support your businesses in optimising your logistics processes. This not only enhances your customer satisfaction, but also improves overall operational efficiency, all of which unlock substantial competitive advantages and cost savings for you.

Enjoy a smooth shipping experience for your fashion and garment products with DHL Express Vietnam. Open a business account with us today and take your business to new heights worldwide.