Shipping Vitamins: 2024 Safe International Shipping Guide

November 17, 2023

As a vitamin manufacturer, we know how important it is to safely ship vitamin products to you. For you who wholesale vitamin products, you are also surely wondering how these supplements make their way across the ocean to reach you. In this post, I'm going to share some shipping safety guidelines that were recently put together, covering temperature control, package markings, and knowledge about shipping details. This guide is not a boring shipping fine print, it's more like an enjoyable journey. I look forward to you, like me, being curious about this "vitamin trip"!

1. Challenges of international transportation of vitamins

The safety of vitamins in international transportation is the focal point of concern for every vitamin brand owner. There are a number of challenges that we face in this process. Next, we'll take a deeper look at these shipping challenges and offer solutions based on our experience working with other supplement brand owners.

1.1 Temperature control

Precise temperature control is necessary during vitamin transportation. This is because in a high temperature environment, vitamins may undergo rapid degradation; while in low temperature conditions, vitamins may be frozen. Both conditions can prevent vitamins from working as they should and loss of nutritional value. So, when planning transportation arrangements with your vitamin manufacturer need to check the weather forecast. That way, you can be sure that the shipping method you choose will maintain the proper temperature range needed for the vitamins at all times throughout the shipping process. In our experience working with international clients, we also use insulation measures such as insulated packaging and cold packs, or we consider expedited shipping options when faced with extreme weather conditions.

1.2 Packaging and labeling

1.2.1 Selection of Packaging Materials

In the last article "Supplement forms and packaging: what you need to know", we have analyzed the various packaging forms of supplements. We learned that bottled supplements are more pressure-resistant but take up more space in the packaging process, while bagged and blister packaged supplements make the most of the packaging space. In order to protect vitamin supplements from damage during transportation, we cushioning materials such as sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, or packing peanuts are also generally used to effectively mitigate impact during transportation.

Similarly, moisture resistant packaging materials are also essential to protect the vitamins from moisture. To avoid adverse reactions to the vitamins, materials such as paper or cardboard that contain acidic ingredients should not be used.

1.2.2 Product labeling and tracking

Before a vitamin product is shipped, both you and your vitamin manufacturer should be clear: detailed labeling of the contents is to be included on the package. This includes the need to clearly state the specific type of vitamin and any dosage information. Not only will this help ensure that packages are handled correctly in transit, but it will also alert carriers to handle packages labeled as fragile or perishable with care. In addition to product labeling, the implementation of a tracking system is also a key measure in the shipping process. We will introduce this later in the content.

2. Vitamin shipping regulations

When shipping vitamins internationally, we understand that compliance is critical for you and us. In the United States, for example, when importing vitamins or supplements, your company is required to submit a detailed "Prior Notice" to the FDA before the product arrives at the U.S. port of entry. This notification needs to clearly state:

● The country where the product originated from

● The origin of the shipment

● Expected Customs Border Protection (CBP) port of entry

● CBP Automated Commercial System (ACS) used to track date & type

● The manufacturer name and address

● Any associated email address

● Working telephone & fax numbers

● Standard Carrier code

In addition to the importer, anyone with knowledge of the shipment, including the exporter, importer, or even a third party (e.g., a logistics company or manufacturer), is eligible to provide advance notification to the FDA. This means that the responsibility for notification is not limited to the importer, but can be accomplished by all parts of the shipment's transportation process.

So, when should you send this notice?

WayTime(Before the shipment’s arrival)
Road2 hours
Rail4 hours
Air4 hours
Sea8 hours

What are the penalties and risks of failing to give advance notice?

● Refusal of import

● Detainment at the port of entry

● Subject to civil and criminal charges (Prohibited Act)

● Shipments may be destroyed or returned to the exporter

We provided detailed information on label and ingredient requirements for supplement products in our last article titled "How to Design Great Supplement Labels: FDA Compliance". Because thousands of labeling violations occur each year, so resulting in several actions by the FDA. When your vitamin or other supplement product has a labeling violation, it can result in the shipment being rejected.

3. How to ship vitamins internationally

1. Shipping Method

Reliable shipping companies can be of great help when you import vitamins. You can use internationally recognized courier companies such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, and so on. These companies have a lot of experience in international shipping. You can also ask our manufacturer for advice on international shipping. As a supplement manufacturer, we usually have close relationships with transportation companies. We can provide information on which carriers are experienced, reliable, and reputable; and which carriers may also provide guidance on paperwork and regulations.

2. Packaging

Packaging plays a key role in the international transportation of vitamins, and any omissions or errors can lead to serious problems and loss of goods. In our past work with brands that have bought our supplement products, we have generally used the following initiatives for packaging in transit:

● Secondary packaging

Secondary packaging refers to large transportation boxes or containers that contain a specific number of primary packages. In international logistics, secondary packaging is essential to protect the integrity of the entire product during transportation. We recommend the use of rectangular boxes for external packaging. Typical secondary packaging also includes corrugated cardboard boxes, cardboard crates, cardboard pallets, and plastic boxes.

● Fillers and wrappers

We usually use fillers and wrappers when shipping. We use packing materials such as paper, foam, or bubble wrap. They provide an extra layer of protection against scratches, scuffs, and dents while the item is in transit. To maximize the safety of your items, we will leave a space of at least 5 cm between the outer packaging and the inner packaging. This space is then filled with protective filling materials such as bubble wrap, polystyrene foam, chips, and crumpled paper.

● Firmly Sealed Packaging

In order to prevent theft and damage while in the ocean container, we will also ask the freight company to properly secure the shipment. They will tightly seal the package from top to bottom, making sure that the tape extends several inches on both sides of the box. High-quality shipping tape will also be used when sealing the box, rather than ordinary duct tape or masking tape, to ensure that your package is sealed effectively.

3. Documentation

After successfully choosing the right mode of transportation and packaging, your vitamin products are about to reach you. However, before the product reaches the market, it needs to go through a complicated customs clearance process. It involves various documents. These include commercial invoices, packing lists, customs declarations, and any relevant certificates or licenses required by the destination country/region. For customs declarations, it is important to state that they are dietary supplements or vitamins to avoid delays or seizure of the shipment. If your documents are complete, compliant, and pass inspection, they can be cleared for release.

4. Restrictions or bans on carrying

Some countries/regions may have restrictions or bans that may exist on specific types of vitamins or ingredients, such as setting limits on certain ingredients or dosage levels. We will communicate with you prior to manufacturing your vitamin product to ensure that your product complies with these regulations in order to avoid problems during the customs clearance process.

5. Tracking and Monitoring

We will track your shipment in a timely manner using the tracking number provided to stay informed of any updates or possible delays. If there are any issues, we will contact the carrier for assistance to ensure smooth transportation of your shipment.


Can I ship vitamins internationally?

Yes, you can ship vitamin products internationally. However, it has to comply with local country/region regulations and laws.

Are vitamins damaged in hot/cold weather?

Vitamins may degrade rapidly in hot environments, while cold temperatures may cause them to freeze. Both can prevent them from working as they should and lose their nutritional value.

Do I need a license to sell vitamins and supplements?

Yes, you need a license from the appropriate FDA in your state to sell vitamins and supplements.

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