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i do not want to encourage customers from outside of the US to order but the PP shopping cart window offers a link for International shipping next to the zip code field of the calculator. how can i remove this (either per item or universally for my store)?
You can't remove the link. But you can do this:
How To Turn off International Shipping:
Log into your PayPal Account, next to your name, select Edit Profile.
Under Selling Preferences, select Shipping Calculations.
The first section is Domestic Shipping Methods - This is where you setup your shipping tables for US. Also make sure you check the shipping override to Yes so you can override any shipping in your Button HTML Code if desired. Note, you can't block shipping to a particular state. If that state is not listed with an amount in the shipping table, then shipping defaults to zero. The shipping table/calculations are only designed to create a shipping amount/method and not block an area.
The next section is for International - Since you don't want to ship outside the US, you should delete any methods that are there by default. Also make sure you have the setting for blocking payments from users who "Have non-US Accounts" checked in your Account Profile. The setting is located under Payment Receiving Preferences. The reason you need to ensure that this is checked is because there is still a dropdown option at checkout for cutomers to select a country. Although customers can select countries, when it comes to checkout time, they cannot proceed. At the present, you can't modifiy or remove this option because it's part of the shipping calculations. The techs who monitor the forum agree it should not be there if you don't have international shipping set up in your profile. One of the techs did pass this observation along as a feature request to the product development team. It makes sense not to have the option there if you don't want it.
For more information on shipping and button variables, download Website Payments Standard Integration Guide from here.