Kickstarter Lesson #152: Shipping Icons

14 June 2015 | 33 Comments

This weekend I’ve been gathering feedback for a project I’m somewhat connected to (Morning Players is our European production partner, and they’re launching their first Kickstarter this week).

One person mentioned that they were impressed by the shipping for the project. Morning Players operates a Kickstarter fulfillment service called Ideaspatcher that I use and recommend, especially for EU shipping.

The person pointed out, though, that the main project image didn’t have the EU-friendly icon we’ve come to associate with shipping-savvy projects thanks to advaranaut’s guest post and graphic design skills way back on KS Lesson #47: This Project Is EU Friendly.

The person is right–these icons are really helpful ways for backers to quickly and easily see if a project has “friendly” shipping or not. “Friendly,” in this case, means one of two things:

  1. The rewards are shipped from within the country or region, thus avoiding import fees and taxes. This “Stonemaier method” is discussed in detail on these posts.
  2. The rewards are priced low enough that they don’t apply to import fees and taxes. Kim Brebach discusses this method here; the VAT threshold in the EU is roughly $23 USD. Please note that each country in the EU has different rules and regulations you must be aware of when shipping to those countries from outside the EU–the low price by itself isn’t enough to make it EU friendly.

You can still have low prices for shipping elsewhere, low shipping fees alone don’t qualify for the “friendly” label. For example, I ship games to backers in Asia directly from China, which is great, but I’m not shipping to, say, backers in Hong Kong from within Hong Kong. So, not technically “friendly.”

If–and only if–your project qualifies for this label, I’ve created four different icons you can use to communicate to your backers as part of your main project image or shipping explanation image. The images below are jpegs, but I’ve also uploaded a PDF and PNG files to this folder (if I’ve exported them correctly, you should be able to “place” them into InDesign or Photoshop with a transparent background).

These are all free to use and share as you wish. Just please make sure your project actually qualifies for the description of “friendly” as defined above. Otherwise it’s going to diminish the power and clarity of these images to backers.

UPDATE: Graphic designer Jason Kingsley added his own twist to these icons–including a “Free Worldwide Shipping” icon–for download at this link.

Australia Canada EU US


For Google SEO, here are the various icons above:

  • Australia-friendly logo
  • EU-friendly logo
  • US-friendly logo
  • Canada-friendly logo
  • Mexico-friendly logo (designed by William Burgos. Shipments sent from North America to Mexico are Mexico-friendly in terms of customs)
  • China-friendly logo (designed by Jordan)

Leave a Comment

33 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #152: Shipping Icons

  1. Hi Jamey, I don’t want to misuse these icons, so I’ve a question- is it still friendly if it’s cheap enough to avoid customs fees? I’m located in the EU so self-distributed shipping will be EU friendly anyway. The game is compact and cheap enough to avoid customs charges to other major countries (US, Canada, Australia), and unless we get significant interest from those regions it makes more sense, financially and logistically, to post them separately from here. Just wondering if I can use these icons, or whether I should just post elsewhere that there’s no customs fees.
    Thanks, Mark

    1. Upon re-reading the article, it appears I can use them (I think I was just confused by the Hong Kong example, and then the EU friendly shipping making things murkier).

      1. Thanks Mark! I think the assumption with these icons is that they products are shipped from within these regions, but you’re right that products can be considered region-friendly if the price and shipping cost is lower than a region-specific threshold. You can specify that in text near the icons.

  2. Hi, I was wondering if there are equivalents anywhere of these logos for “Disabled Friendly” and/or “Environmentally Friendly” projects? Thanks

    1. The Environmentally friendly logos is actually something we’re working on, its a little trickier since there is debate on what does and does not qualify as more environmentally friendly, but we hope to be putting up the first logos with guidelines in the next few weeks.

  3. These are really nice! I would also be great to have a single “INTERNATIONAL-FRIENDLY SHIPPING” icon that encompasses all of these, to save precious project image real estate space. It could have a globe in the middle. With the plethora of fulfillment companies, it’s very possible to hit up everyone.

  4. So if I understand correctly, to be Canada-friendly, the items must ship to Canada from WITHIN Canada. And the same for Australia, and on…? If so, do you have a post about services that offer these shipping services? Are there services that offer “friendly” in all these countries?


  5. Hmmm given that the threshold is currently effectively USD$750 / AUD$1000 I’m not sure… perhaps some 10 pack boxes of items each worth more than US$75 got stopped? Does that sound possible?

    There are currently plans to introduce GST (our consumer tax) of 10% to all overseas purchases from July 1, 2017. Its unknown yet whether this will actually happen as tax politics is ever in flux here :) I’ll broadcast that around if it does look likely.

    I’m polling some regular Australian backers to see what they think the AU friendly shipping icon means. I know I know too much to be a valid sample :)

    See Government info on tax on online purchases

  6. Kim: Before I shipped through Good Games in Australia, I ran into some issues for bigger shipments shipped from China directly to group backers in Australia. I can’t remember the details, but I think there were hefty customs fees if the order was valued above a certain amount. So in those regards, it seems like Australia-friendly shipping (shipping to backers from within Australia instead of outside) is quite applicable and in parallel to the other friendly icons. You would know better than I do since you’re in Australia, but if that’s correct, how does it muddy the waters? It seems in line with the other icons.

  7. Thanks Jamey – interesting article about icons.

    One of the primary reasons Europeans want shipping from within Europe is that when VAT is payable by the backer, so is an often higher “handling” fee. And the backer has to go and pick it up often in a different town. Its not just the tax payable.

    Its my view that EU members should in some way pay for the VAT due on mailed games following the rules. Those taxes pay for their economic and social infrastructure and EU citizens logically should accept paying it somehow. But creators should of course do everything they can to minimise unnecessary charges like handling fees and long drive pickups. In this way its usually best to ship more expensive items from within the EU and pass those costs onto the backers either in higher EU friendly pledge tiers (like i did for MONSTROUS as an option) or by incorporating them into additional shipping fees.

    You can absolutely use Send From China (or other fulfillment services from wherever) to ship cheaper than 22 euro rewards to all EU member countries except France, Sweden, Denmark, Greece and Romania which have VERY low or no VAT free thresholds. For games under 1lb or 600 grams this gives you a very competitive global shipping solution. I’ve not heard a view by EU residents that ALL games no matter how cheap should be sent EU friendly from inside Europe. I’ve no doubt some may say that but I got plenty of EU backers without offering all my games EU friendly because I explained the facts as I understand them, and I did give them the option to pay extra for EU friendly shipping if they wanted it.

    I will also point out that the Send From China people have a German Warehaus and can send packages of various sizes and weights throughout Europe EU friendly style from there. I’m using that for the 65 backers I had that come from countries with no / low VAT free thresholds or who want to go EU friendly to minimise ALL risk of having to pay for handling. Its costs more to pay the VAT and extra shipping to Germany and these backers were happy to pay for that risk management.

    Jamey’s favourite ideaspatcher guys also sound good for this, as do some others.

    Re Australia and US friendly:
    If “friendly” means shipped in the best way to legally minimise tax and HANDLING fees, then any project under AU$1000 US$750 in value is AU friendly. Most Australians (typically 3 – 5% of the KS audience) just look straight at the shipping costs if they like a project. Tax & handling is NEVER a consideration for us with games.

    So there is no such thing really as “Australia friendly” shipping in that tax and handling sense… “Australia Friendly” might be interpreted to mean “we have shipped to Australia as cheaply as we think we can” which is a VERY fuzzy definition liable to get you into trouble. So using that symbol kinda muddies the waters in my opinion. I don’t do it.

    The same argument really applies to the US with its USD$200 tax free import threshold – its not relevant for anything other than crazy Cthulhu Wars scale games.

    In my view the overuse of these icons is watering down the very important use of EU and Canada friendly logos.

  8. Thanks, I’ll try asking in Brian’s guest post! I absolutely agree on shipping from within the EU to be EU-friendly. Particularly since there are some countries that don’t have a minimum threshold for VAT. I’m more curious about Australia and Canada right now :-)

  9. Since you mention an option being to ship at a price that avoid custom fees, I’m curious if you feel these still apply to cases where you use SendFromChina? Going that route, you can easily have a game mailed that isn’t priced high enough to have a fee in Australia, or even Canada from my research. There seems to be some though that argue it *really* doesn’t count unless you ship from within the country, no matter if it avoids custom fees.

  10. Cheers Jamey! I’ve just put these on my Kickstarter page, so they are really useful! I’ve also given you the credit for helping far more than anyone may realise. Just reading all your lessons has been so, so informative. Thank you!

  11. Woohoo, Australia came first :)
    More Australia-friendly projects would be great. It’s hard to back some when it’s going to cost the same amount as the game – or even MORE – to ship here.

  12. As a side note, given their entirely reasonable customs limits, it’s hard not to be Australia / New Zealand friendly. Whether or not you ship internationally or fulfill locally depends on the relative costs for you, not customs charges imposed on the buyers.

    Also, in some countries shipping charges are dutiable, which can be a nasty trap. I tried to sort it all out for the major countries in this spreadsheet:

    1. Yeah the good thing about being in Australia is import duties don’t kick in until AUD$1000. The problem is shipping costs.

  13. I’d be interested on the stats on how much these stickers affect backer behaviour. I’ll be honest, I never considered the ‘Friendly’ nature of a project I was backing until these stickers came along; now I always consider this when backing.
    Oh, and thanks for sharing, much appreciated Jamey!

    1. ZomBev: Yeah, it’s interesting how little icons can have a big impact on our backer behavior. Unfortunately I don’t have any stats to back it up, just intuition and anecdotal evidence! :)

  14. As a backer, thought it worth mentioning that I’m really not a fan of projects describing themselves as EU friendly when they don’t actually ship from within the EU. The value under x qualifier depends too much on the creator understanding customs practice in 23 countries and on local customs officials applying the rules accurately. Unfortunately it is difficult the have faith that all but the most established creators would be able to handle the complexity. Recent example of Mayday’s Viceroy campaign demonstrated this when they proposed switching to the low declared value method, but backers had to point out that they hadn’t correctly understood the consequences (to their credit Mayday switched back very quickly).

    Completely understand why creators value the flexibility. But honestly, if I started seeing many projects taking this approach I’d start discounting the logo.

    1. Kev: Thanks for sharing that insight. It’s a good point that customs in Europe are very complicated to understand if you ship from outside the region. I’ll add a note about that to the post.

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