Updated Nov 2022
Customers often write to ask Etsy sellers how long it will take for their order to get to them, but there isn’t a 100% good way for us to know that! Since we rely on the postal system we’re not in control of the shipping time, and all we can do is estimate.
Etsy doesn’t know either, but because it DOES say that it’s gotten better at estimating delivery times, customers are often confused about this issue.
This gets more complicated because you have to add processing time in…
The question of why Etsy shipping takes a long time overlooks the fact that Etsy doesn’t ship anything. Shipping orders is the responsibility of each individual seller, and they all have different policies and schedules.
Because Etsy is also a handmade marketplace, some items are made when they’re ordered, and that can take days, or even weeks. This gets into the difference between processing time and shipping time.
Table of Contents
- What is processing time on Etsy?
- What is shipping time on Etsy?
- How to see your shipped orders on Etsy
What is processing time on Etsy?
Processing time is the time that it takes to actually make the item after it’s ordered. If things are made-to-order it means that they’re created when the order is paid for, and not ahead of time. Because of this, items that need to be made especially for the customer, or that have custom details like monogramming or color choices, will need to have a processing time before they’re ready to be shipped.
Customers need to be aware that their order isn’t guaranteed to ship before the estimated processing time.
Many Etsy sellers have a stock of ready-to-ship items, so they tend to ship quickly. However, most sellers do some level of creating items when they’re ordered, so a 1-3 day processing time is a common choice for most sellers.
This also gives us a cushion in case we need more time for some reason. When you make a purchase on Etsy you need to check the processing time to make sure it fits your needs.
If a seller has set a 7-day processing time, and you need the item tomorrow, you probably shouldn’t buy it!
Some Etsy sellers report that customers get upset when they want to have a custom item made and are told that it will take 6 weeks to create it.
The customer doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s not just a matter of making the item, the seller might also have to special order specific materials and wait for those to arrive.
They may also have to do designs that the customer approves, or get more information from the customer. This will all extend the processing time, especially if the customer doesn’t answer messages from the seller promptly.
One seller in my Facebook group had to cancel a custom order because the customer never answered any messages to send the details of what she wanted. When the order was canceled the customer started messaging to say to send the order, but still didn’t answer what personalization she wanted, so that didn’t help!
If you need your custom order quickly, make sure to tell the seller exactly what you need and respond to their messages so that they know what you want them to make.
I also get a lot of people who place orders and then send me messages saying that they need their items in two days.
I generally end up canceling those orders, because there’s no way to get things to people that quickly.
If you have the need for something really fast, you should definitely check with the seller before buying to make sure they can get it to you, and to ask for the cost of expedited shipping.
Most sellers will offer some type of faster shipping, but it can cost a lot more because that’s what the postal service charges us.
So that leads us to the shipping time, which is the next piece of the Etsy shipping puzzle.
What is shipping time on Etsy?
Shipping time is the estimated travel time after the item is actually mailed. This is separate from processing time, and is entirely dependent on the shipping service and shipping speed that the customer chooses at checkout. In addition, if international travel is required for the package, there can be delays due to customs processing and local differences in how each country handles its mail delivery. Etsy sellers have no control over shipping time.
When Etsy provides shipping estimates, they need to be taken with a grain of salt. There can be local issues with postal delays that are unpredictable, and any estimates are just that, estimates.
Especially in the case of international shipping, or any domestic shipments that go through transit stations that are experiencing delays, shipping can take a lot longer than people expect.
The reality is that shipping and delivery will take as long as they take.
Etsy sellers have no more information than buyers when it comes to knowing where a package is once it’s mailed, or when it will be delivered.
The post office in the US and in other countries will scan the packages in as they’re processed in transit, but sometimes packages aren’t scanned correctly and they look like they’re not moving at all.
I’ve had packages that weren’t scanned in at all when I took them to the post office so they looked like they were never sent. They arrived just fine, but they weren’t scanned in at all along the way.
To get the most updated tracking, sign up at the shipping company’s website for tracking updates. The US Postal Service offers tracking updates, but you need to sign up for it.
Other shipping services also offer this, so check with the company that your Etsy seller used to see if you can sign up for updates.
In general, Etsy estimates that shipping domestically will take 3-7 business days, depending on the mail class chosen by the customer. This will vary by country depending on how the individual postal services operate.
For international shipping, packages can take anywhere between 10-30 business days, which usually doesn’t include weekends. So be prepared to wait for a decent amount of time depending on where you’re ordering from, and don’t expect international orders to arrive in 3 days! That’s not realistic unless you want to pay for (very expensive) international priority shipping.
Also remember that shipping time needs to be added to processing time, which can extend everything longer. The worst-case scenario would be a long processing time plus a long shipping time, so be aware that Etsy is an international business and Etsy shops are located all over the world. If you order internationally it will just take longer to arrive.
How to see your shipped orders on Etsy
To see information about when your order will ship, when it did ship, and tracking information, go to your purchases and reviews section in your Etsy profile. From this section you’ll be able to see everything that you’ve purchased and when they will be shipping, or when they did ship. You can also leave reviews and find any files that you bought from digital purchases in this section. Keep in mind that not all packages are automatically sent with tracking, and you may have to pay extra for tracking in specific countries.
This information will be available in your account if you’re registered with Etsy, but if you checked out as a guest you’ll need to look for the shipping confirmation email they send when your order is shipped.
That will have the tracking information, if available, and you can look it up there.
International orders might not be easy to track depending on whether the package went directly through the mail or to a central distribution facility.
Etsy has been using a company that collects the packages then ships them out of their facility, but they change the tracking numbers in the process. This website can sometimes give you information if you can’t find it in your country’s postal service: 17Track
If your package was sent without tracking, it becomes more difficult to estimate shipping times. Sometimes the mail service is so expensive, Etsy sellers opt not to use tracking in order not to pass that cost along to their customers.
I would suggest that you contact the seller to ask if packages will be sent with tracking if this is a concern for you, especially with international shipping.
I send all of my packages with tracking, and Etsy is changing their system soon to require tracking for most packages in the US.
But tracking isn’t always an option, so be aware of that. If you choose not to pay for it, nobody will be able to tell you where it is in the delivery process.
Estimating the arrival of packages is a tricky thing, especially if you’re dealing with international shipments and possible delays due to local problems.
Etsy sellers get as frustrated as our customers with delays, but because shipping is a service that we’re not in charge of, we can’t change the way that it works! Reach out to the seller if you think your package has been delayed, but sometimes it’s just a matter of having patience.
This article looks at the confusing revenue reporting on Etsy in the stats section and other sections where you can find financial info.
Opening an Etsy shop isn't difficult, it's making your first sales that gets tricky! But once you decide what you're going to sell, you can get started selling on Etsy by opening a shop and listing...