If you are going to use printed materials in France it would seem logical to print them in France. Or maybe not France, maybe Belgium. Or Italy.

But definitely in Europe.

It certainly makes no sense to print your materials in California if you need them in Cologne.

Let’s think about the implications of printing in the US to deliver in Europe. The immediate impact is going to be on your schedule. Days, and maybe weeks will have to be added to the production schedule, and if your content relies upon getting the most up to date information (pricing, stock prices or time sensitive announcements) then this can complicate things significantly.

Then transport also needs to be factored in. There is going to be a cost involved – a higher cost as the volumes increase, obviously, but also a carbon footprint cost. There is little point in being green by selecting to use recycled paper stock only to then ship your material half way around the world. Why not give your PR team something really positive to write about?

And then you have to deal with import and customs documentation. Generally there tend to be no delays, but the last thing you need is your sales team manning your booth at a European trade show whilst your promotional materials languish in customs as an official is looking for the triplicate copy of one insignificant form or another.

Over the years we’ve heard too many stories to recount of expensive trade show or an international conference being ruined by materials either arriving late or not at all.

Instead, the ideal solution is always to print close to where material is going to be needed. European printers produce exceptional work. To specification and on time. But we would highlight a few of the main considerations that you should remember before selecting your European print partner.

1. We’re metric. In Europe we measure everything in millimetres. Only the UK really understands inches, and even they are more familiar with millimetres. The millimetre is the European printing standard.

2. The standard European letter size is A4. European A4 measures 297mm high by 210mm wide. This is equivalent to 11.69 inches by 8.27 inches. Different from what we refer to as American Quarto. If your material needs to be a bastard size (i.e. not a multiple of the Din A0 standard paper sizes), the printer may then recommend a special production of your paper to reduce wastage, but only for larger print runs where the savings on the paper production is more than offset by the costs of trimming wastage.

3. Paper weights based on grams per square metre – gsm – and not by the weight of a 500 sheet ream. You can find plenty of paper weight conversion tables online, but a good print broker will help you choose you the closest standard gsm paper for you. Often paper you are familiar with the US is available in Europe, but often it is marketed under a different name. Your broker should have good relationships with the paper suppliers so as to be able to identify the European equivalent of your corporate stock.

4. In Europe we don’t all speak English! This may seem obvious, but when production specifications are being discussed it is easy for confusion and misunderstanding to be quickly introduced. This doesn’t tend to happen with the core specifications such as the number of pages and the size of a document, but it can become more complex once we start to discuss finishings such as coatings, varnishes, laminates and binding. Working closely with a European print broker fluent in English can help avoid these errors.

5. Central European Time is 6 hours ahead Eastern Time and 9 ahead of Pacific… So when you start your working day at 9am we may well be clearing our desks. If you send an email at 10am you may not get a reply until the next morning and a day has been lost. Check that your European print broker can be reached outside of regular office hours and that emails are monitored throughout the day. No-one expects their international partner to be available 24/7 – but be sure that you are working with a print broker that can be contacted quickly and easily.