eBay’s Global Shipping Program: Pros, Cons and Alternatives

Readers’ Questions are in partnership with Emanaged and Online Seller Consulting.


I wonder if you can help me!

I’ve been selling rare action figures and collectibles domestically on eBay for three years and have just started offering my products on some of eBay’s global marketplaces.

I’ve recently tried using the Global Shipping Program for my overseas orders, and I quite like it. So far it seems easy to use, and I’ve had no hassle shipping my goods abroad.

I’m not totally sold on using it long-term though, as I have a feeling that I could make more money if I shipped the orders myself directly.

So, my question is this: What are the main advantages and disadvantages of using the Global Shipping Program and is there a better alternative that I should be using?

– George, Atlanta

Boy barbies

Hi George,

I’m still in possession of my old childhood toys, and recently had fun hearing feedback (well, ridicule) from my five year old son: “But Daddy, those are boy barbies. Isn’t that for girls?”

Mid-way through trying to educate him on the differences between Ken, a dude with great teeth, and GI Joe’s righteous position as a defender of freedom and equal to Chuck Norris, I realized he was right – I loved boy barbies. One has a pair of matching slacks while the other a laser sub machine gun… But yeah, whatever.

That has utterly nothing to do with your question, I’m just sharing. I would love to believe that my firecracker-stained, burnt, broken boy barbies had some value, other than the childhood memories of throwing them down hills and trying to make their falls as action-packed as possible.

Somewhere in the backwaters of a Floridian swamp, buried beneath mud, alligator eggs and rocks, the remains of a GI Joe can be found, lost from a boy’s childhood toy box forever… maybe they could even be worth something by now, if I hadn’t destroyed them so majestically.

This subject is dear to my heart, so let’s see what I can do to help you.

The eBay Global Shipping Program

eBay’s GSP is the perfect short-term plan for expanding internationally without the risks or setup work.

The key perks:

  • You ship to a local address, which means no international rates, duties, tracking or border issues. For you, a GSP order is as easy as shipping the Bounty Hunter J-type spring-shooting rocket figurine to your neighbor, who just mortgaged his house so he could afford it.
  • You don’t lose sleep. If the Skeletor figurine is lost in transit, or damaged along the way, no worries… Well I say no worries for you. The buyer might not agree. But anyways, eBay is in charge of transit and therefore in charge of solving problems with international shipping. No account performance issues either – you get 5-star ratings and protection for shipping.

You still have to manage any return requests. I mean, if you shipped that Sherwood Forest set without the tree house ladder, and your buyer really wanted that tree house as a kid, you might need to offer a refund. eBay thankfully will handle the international shipping aspects.

The Global Shipping Program has limitations however. They don’t allow all product types, but your items should be covered. It also doesn’t offer the best rates in all circumstances. For example, shipping the GI Joe seven-foot toy aircraft carrier from the 80’s to the mountains of Peru is likely to carry a hefty shipping charge – although it is for the buyer to pay directly to eBay, not you.

And, eBay’s GSP does not provide a gateway to all countries. While many are on the list these days, you aren’t open for business to the entire world. That may not be too big a deal for you however, as I doubt the average Tibetan monk is interested in a mint condition Bruce Lee action figure.

Shipping overseas “directly”

If you decide to do this directly, you likely can save the buyer some money, if you ship in sufficient volume. You can then reduce your prices, and give your listings an advantage over competitors. For people who sell new products, that can make a big difference and put them at an advantage over sellers who rely on the Global Shipping Program.

But being a seller of collectibles, I suspect volume isn’t your business model. Margin is more likely where your focus lies.

Shipping directly requires setting up accounts with international couriers. This is extra work and haggling which, for low volumes, won’t help you make a great saving, if any at all. For higher volume sellers it’s worth a look.

To get the best rates, you tend to want a courier aggregation service like ShipStation. These systems allow you to connect with shipping companies in real time based on each order’s specific details. That’s going to allow you to find the best rates for each and every order. But again, it’s more setup and cost that might not be worth it for low order volumes.

Also look at Shipping Consolidators like Asendia USA who combine their own international shipping with domestic postal services to offer discounted prices.

Couriers offer good rates based on volume. But as we identified above, you likely aren’t in the volume business. How many mint condition She-Ra Master of the Universe adult size galactic skirts do you have? If you have loads, no judgment, she did rock the outfit with that 1980’s hair…

Anyways, guess what the best way to get your regional account metrics downgraded on eBay is? That’s right – shipping without tracking overseas! Shipping overseas is expensive with tracking services, so you either roll the dice with every overseas order, or price yourself above local sellers who can offer better rates.

I’ve seen sellers get suspended or downgraded to “below standard” for months because the local postal service for the country they were shipping to decided to engage in a three week strike. This is fairly rare, but you are liable for ensuring that each item makes it to the buyer’s door. If the local mailman had a bad day, then I wish you good luck trying to make your case with eBay’s support agents.

The Global Shipping Program sidesteps the tracking issue completely, because under GSP the overseas leg of shipping is eBay’s problem, not yours.

You could skip the need to set up direct shipping and partner with local third-party logistics companies (3PLs) instead. There are of course local providers in each territory which you can use to ship products to their domestic regions.

And, Amazon FBA is still an option for third-party channels like eBay. Unlike North America, where eBay and Walmart will suspend or penalize you for using Amazon FBA, Europe is more accommodating and Amazon FBA is still treated as a separate service provider, at least for now. So you could, theoretically, use Amazon European FBA to fulfill overseas orders.

But, this is more cost and investment. The advantage is faster, cheaper shipping to buyers, potentially without any additional duties or taxes for them to pay. It can offer a big competitive advantage to those who sell new product lines with high order volumes.

But that’s not your business, is it? For sellers of collectables, using a regional 3PL would be a supremely dumb idea both from a cost and setup perspective, but also operationally. You can’t warehouse your unique, mint condition, limited edition Chewbacca figurine in Germany, because a Japanese buyer may want it. Theoretically, yes, it’s an option. But so is using a fleet of space air balloons to deliver your product. Or a giant catapult.

Where and what?

I think, George, given your business model and industry, you likely want to stick it out with the Global Shipping Program.

The collectible figurine market is largest in the US. There’s Comic-Con, NerdaCon, CollectiCon, and many other collectable events I’ve just made up, all predominantly with the biggest buyer base and most marketing PR in the USA. That’s your biggest market.

To move product to overseas territories would be pointless, costly and damaging to your biggest market. Localizing stock is only a good idea if you expect to sell large volumes in that country, or perhaps build a brand reputation for fast and affordable shipping.

eBay remains the best marketplace for selling collectibles, so moving everything to Amazon and FBA doesn’t really help you beyond just being a pick, pack and ship service. For business who have something to gain from selling on Amazon, as opposed to just using FBA to fulfill orders from other channels, moving stock into FBA gives them a big advantage over sellers who do their own shipping (unless they have qualified for Seller-Fulfilled Prime, but that’s another story).

You could set up your shipping software, negotiate rates, then package and ship international orders directly. After shipping fees, customs issues and international tracking services, however, I doubt you’ll save much in time, effort, tears or actual money. In fact, as you won’t produce the consistent volume to get great courier rates, you will most likely spend more over the course of a year, while not really offering the buyer any real savings.

Being a seller of collectibles, do you even need to worry about competitive shipping rates? If you own the limited edition GI Joe flushable army toilet, complete with rugged male air freshener, your ideal buyer will want it, whatever the cost. They can’t exactly “shop around” and find it elsewhere, can they?

Given the uniqueness of your product and the type of buyer you attract, a buyer with singular focus, is it not all about simply having the right product with the right accessories, in the right condition?

I think in your case, George, being in collectibles in North America, eBay’s Global Shipping Program is the best place to be.

Totally unrelated, but do you have any She-Ra adult mini skirts? Asking for a friend!


Jake Pool

Jake Pool

A content writer in the SaaS, FinTech, and eCommerce spaces, Jake Pool has written hundreds of articles and reviews for dozens of corporate blogs and online publications. With four years under his wing, readers can expect many more informative articles in the future.

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Hi George, I would be happy to educate you on the benefits of shipping your international parcels directly from your warehouse and controlling your postage costs, etc. I have 20 years of experience in helping online sellers reduce international shipping costs while increasing their international sales.Happy to help -Kind Regards, Susan


Nice article. Totally agree that for low volume, one of a kind, GSP is the way to go. I ship in much higher volumes and find mail consolidators like Globegistics to be huge money savers. At this point on many items I offer free shipping to Canada from the US as long as they don’t request expedited shipping. GSP is a good deal for eBay too as it is s profit maker for them. This allows them to subsidize the postage and seller fees some.


GSP is limited to items $2000 and under because eBay takes responsibilit once seller gets the item to Kentucky. Buyers don’t like that eBay calculates the duties either. It’s nice that they handle it but French, Belgian and Swiss buy more expensive or unusual, rare jewelry that can be expensive. It’s riskier for a seller since it can get hung up in customs due to concern that itvfunds extremist terrorism. Seriously. They have more to fear than we do, they are closer so items that can be traded get more scrutiny.

David Richardson
David Richardson

Stay away from GSP, if they lose an item or it doesn't arrive they will refund the buyer using your money from your paypal account and pretend they never recieved it at the GSP warehouse. Even if you show them the tracking proof, and even if they sent you a tracking number for that order proving they got it and forwarded it to the recipient, they will deny this, ignore every sentence you say to them that proves they got it and repeat, like a robot, "sorry we cant find proof we recieved it" even though you are showing them the proof in the form of the tracking number they sent you once the recieved i to show it was forwarded....they have done this to me and countless other people, the whole thing is a scam.

In reply to Matt

Hi David,

How many times did this happen out of curiosity? Was it using the same shipping provider?

We have many clients using GSP successfully, but sometimes there is a bug in transit or mistakes happen. Happy to hear more about it and offer help directly.

In reply to ANNE

Thank you for posting that info.


I have made my first buy using GSP and it sucks, it sucks bad... I have had little up to date tracking info and it's very slow. I also have to see PB pick up my item ten miles from my house and then ship it halfway across the country before sending it to me. I am sure I paid more than I would have if the seller sent it to me without GSP.

eBay is useless when I need help figuring out where my item is and no updated info from PB for days. I bought an item from the UK and it's taking longer than it did when I sold an item to a customer in Australia on my own. I live in NJ, by the way.

I will never, ever buy an item that is shipped via GSP, I hate it and hate the crap customer service eBay is giving me with it. I never have had a complaint about eBay customer service until dealing with their GSP. It needs to have a stake driven into its heart. Do a quick search and see how many people hate it as well.

In reply to Genriks

I “rummaged” on the Internet for information about the eBay’s GSP. And I got enough negative reviews. Many of them were given several years ago. However, they are all very relevant now. With all I ran into the shortcomings of this delivery service. Nothing has changed since that time. I posted some information on my Facebook page. @ Gsv Ofis.
In my case, instead of solving the problem, eBay blocked my account.


As a buyer my advise to ALL BUYERS is to AVOID ANY TRANSACTIONS VIA GSP. The cost can often near dubble to cost to the buyer and as a seller that may not cost you but I HAVE TO PAY. So I’ll only buy from sellers that use direct shipping. Custom clearance is cheap and easy. We as buyers and sellers can stop this money grabbing rip off.

In reply to Matthew

Hi Johannes,

Sometimes this is the only possible way a seller can support international buyers and markets. If you don't like to pay the larger shipping price, you could simply not buy it?

In reply to Fatmanjoh

Hi. Had similar $xperience. Crap service with exorbitant cost ( up to 50% of item price). I just avoid sellers that use them and inform the seller. Some sellers will use another shipping agent I PREFERS DHL. OR EVEN USPS. NEVER USL as we get fleased by their local company with extra ‘entry’ costs.


GSP is very very slow.
I had to wait 10 days for delivery from UK to Ireland!

In reply to Matthew

... Perhaps they swam part of the delivery.


I avoid GSP like a plague. The worst for me is that the GSP doesn't allow for combining shipping costs when you buy multiples items from the same seller. It's ridiculous and obviously a scam.


I thought GSP was fine for the first few things I sold on it, but unfortunately I got badly stung a fre weeks ago. I had listed some expensive telecoms equipment ( at approx 20% its current rrp) I received an offer from a buyer in Singapore.. ( Initially you arent made aware of the buyers location) I accepted and posted item to ebay GSP hub. About a week later I got a refund request saying item did not match description. I rechecked the item and realised the description was different by 1 character in a 10 digit code. I contacted the buyer and offered the onr I sent at half price and the correct one at his original offer. ( This was a saving of of about £700 to him pm rrp.
Buyer wasn't interested and wanted full refund. I reckon he realised it would be too costly and too much trouble for me to arrange a return ( I dont know if I would need to pay customs duty, fees etc) so I wouldn't pursue it
I refunded the money but am now missing my equipment. I have a feeling the guy would certainl use it or sell it on.
Any suggestions people. Its certainly changed my previously positive view of GSP



Great article! GSP has changed for us Brits. Many many items have been banned completely from this system. I sell antique clocks through eBay and have always been pleased with their system. But suddenly, I cannot send them to USA, Australia and many other countries. Using my own sources does not make monetary sense as I really need to keep items insured so they arrive in good order. How do I now do this? Bearing in mind, I would like potential eBay buyers to know what postage they will be letting themselves in for on the advert, how would this all work? I only average one parcel a month or so.

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