Frequently Asked Questions
Our shipping platform will generate most of the forms necessary for international shipping.
The commercial invoice functions as a bill of sale between the seller and the buyer. The invoice identifies the product being shipped, country of origin, a full description of the product, its intended use, and commercial value.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. If your shipment is destined for Canada and its value exceeds $1600 CDN, or is destined for Mexico and its value exceeds $1000 USD, you are required to complete a NAFTA Certificate of Origin. This certificate is used to determine if goods being imported are subject to reduced or eliminated duty.
Certificate of Origin
Or in Short a Certificate of Origin (CO) is a document which is used for certification that the products exported are wholly obtained, produced or manufactured in a particular Country. It is generally an integral part of export documents.
SED / EEI
The SED is a U.S. government form used for developing export statistics and controls. It is required for shipping single commodities valued at more than $2,500 or commodities requiring a license or license exemption.
Dimensional weight (or DIM weight) is the “weight” used to calculate the shipping cost of bulky, lightweight packages. Think about the available space in a truck or plane—if your package is taking up a bit more space than the weight the package captures in rates, you will pay for that space.
How to Calculate the Volumetric Weight of Your Express Shipment
The DIM weight is calculated by determining the cubic size of a package, which can be found by multiplying its length x width x height. Shippers will be charged the greater of the Dim weight or the actual scale weight. DHL, UPS and Fed Ex divisor: 139
USPS divisor: 194 but only applies to shipments going to Zones 5-9
Duties and Taxes
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country.
Depending on local legislation and regulations, the import or export of some goods may be restricted or forbidden, and the customs agency enforces these rules. The customs authority may be different from the immigration authority, which monitors persons who leave or enter the country, checking for appropriate documentation, apprehending people wanted by international arrest warrants, and impeding the entry of others deemed dangerous to the country.
In most countries customs are attained through government agreements and international laws. A customs duty is a tariff or tax on the importation (usually) or exportation (unusually) of goods. In the Kingdom of England, customs duties were typically part of the customary revenue of the king, and therefore did not need parliamentary consent to be levied, unlike excise duty, land tax, or other forms of taxes.
Commercial goods not yet cleared through customs are held in a customs area, often called a bonded store, until processed. All authorized ports are recognized customs area.
Calculation of Customs duty depends on the determination of what is called assessable value in case of items for which the duty is levied ad valorem. This is often the transaction value unless the Customs officers determine assessable value in accordance with Brussels definition.
However, for certain items like petroleum and alcohol, Customs duty is realized at a specific rate applied to the volume of the import or export consignments.
To find your HTS Code, go to https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/index.html
For the purpose of assessment of Customs duty, products are given an identification code that has come to be known as the Harmonized System code. This code was developed by the World Customs Organization based in Brussels. H. S. Code may be from four to ten digits. For example 17.03 is the H. S. Code for molasses from the extraction or refining of sugar. However, within 17.03, the number 17.03.90 stands for "Molasses (Excluding Cane Molasses)".
Introduction of H. S. Code in 1990s has largely replaced what used to be known as SITC or Standard International Trade Classification, though SITC remains in use for statistical purposes. In drawing up the national tariff, the revenue departments often specify the rate of Customs duty with reference to the H. S. Code of the product. In some countries and customs unions, 6 digit HS codes are locally extended to 8 digits or 10 digits for further tariff discrimination: for example the European Union uses its 8 digit CN (Combined Nomenclature) and 10 digit TARIC codes.
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What Are The FTR
The Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) mandates that all persons who are required to file export information do so through the Automated Export System (AES) at a specified timeframe prior to export with the requisite shipment data. This information was formerly called the Shipper's Export Declaration (SED), and it is now referred to as Electronic Export Information (EEI). The FTR further imposes civil and criminal penalties for violations of these regulations. The purpose of the FTR is to collect U.S. export statistical data, as well as to enforce U.S. export control laws.
FTR code list...
FTR Short explanation
30.2(d)(2): Shipments from the U.S. or Puerto Rico. to the following U.S. possessions: Guam, American Samoa, Wake Island, Midway Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Canton and Enderbury Islands
30.36: Shipments destined to Canada †
30.37(a): Commodities from one USPPI to one consignee on a single export carrier, classified under an individual Schedule B/HTS commodity classification code is $2500 or less †
30.37(b): Tools of trade and their containers
30.37(e): Air shipments of goods for which no export licenses or ITAR exemptions are required, transported in bond through the United States. Except goods sent in bond from a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) require the filing of an EEI.
30.37(f): Export of technology and software as defined in 15CFR part 772 of the EAR that do not require an export license
30.37(g): Shipments to foreign libraries, government establishments or similar institutions of books, maps, charts, pamphlets and similar articles for their exclusive use.
30.37(h): Shipments authorized under License Exception GFT (Gift Parcels and Humanitarian Donations) 15 CFR 740.12 of EAR
30.37(i): Diplomatic material/pouches and their contents
30.37(k): Shipments of interplant correspondence, executed invoices and other documents of company business records from a US firm to its subsidiary/affiliate. (Does not apply to highly technical plans, correspondence, etc that could require license)
30.37(o): Shipments of aircraft parts and equipment; food, saloon, slop chest, and related stores; and provisions and supplies for use on aircraft by a U.S. airline to its own installations, aircraft, and agents abroad, under EAR License Exception AVS for aircraft and vessels.
30.37(q): Temporary exports, except those that require licensing, whether shipped or hand carried, (e.g., carnet) that are exported from and returned to the United States in less than one year (12 months) from the date of export.
30.37(r): Goods previously imported under a Temporary Import Bond for return in the same condition as when imported including: goods for testing, experimentation, or demonstration; goods imported for exhibition; samples and models imported for review or for taking orders; goods imported for participation in races or contests, and animals imported for breeding or exhibition and goods imported for use by representatives of foreign governments or international organizations or by members of the armed forces of a foreign country. Goods that were imported under bond for processing and reexportation are not covered by this exemption.
30.39: Special exemptions for shipment to the US armed services for their exclusive use. Does not apply to articles that are on the USML or controlled by ITAR or shipments not consigned to the US armed services but are for their ultimate use
30.40(a): Special exemptions for certain shipments to US Government agencies and employees of office furniture, office equipment or office supplies for their exclusive use
30.40(b): Special exemptions for certain shipments to US Government agencies and employees of household goods and personal property for their exclusive use
30.40(c): Special exemptions for certain shipments to US Government agencies and employees of food, medicines and related items for their exclusive use
30.40(d): Special exemptions for certain shipments to US Government agencies and employees of books, maps, charts, pamphlets and similar articles for their exclusive use
Correspondence. Interpersonal Correspondence to only apply to shipments where the Restricted Access Destination optional service applies
† Does not apply to shipments requiring an export license/permit, sent for storage in CA but ultimately destined for a third country, of rough diamonds or commodities controlled by USML of ITAR
International Commercial Terms
“Incoterms” is a trademark of the International Chamber of Commerce. Incoterms® rules and trade terms are recognised and accepted as the standard for international trading and are regularly updated as commercial conditions change.
Developed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and first published in 1936, the rules are designed to ensure that the obligations of all parties involved in international transactions are clear and understood.
When quoting and invoicing your customers, it’s important that there is no confusion over who is responsible for delivering the goods and paying for transport. The use of the Incoterms® 2010 Rules removes the risk of misinterpretation in different countries.
There are 11 Incoterms® rules covering delivery, risks and costs. When you include a particular term in your quote or invoice you should make specific reference to the rules, for example, ‘FOB Southampton – Incoterms® 2010 Rules’.
DAP – Delivered At Place
The seller bears the responsibility and risks to deliver the goods to a named place. The goods are deemed to be delivered when they are placed at the disposal of the buyer on the arriving means of transport ready for unloading at the named place of destination. Parties are advised to specify as clearly as possible the point within the agreed place of destination, because risks transfer at this point from seller to buyer. The seller is required to clear the goods for export and the importer is responsible for effecting customs clearance, and paying any customs duties.
DDP – Delivered Duty Paid
The seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the named place in the country of importation, including all costs and risks in bringing the goods to import destination. This includes duties, taxes and customs formalities.
FOB – Free on Board
Once the goods have passed over the ship’s rail at the port of export the buyer is responsible for all costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods from that point. The seller is required to clear the goods for export.
CFR – Cost and Freight
The seller must pay the costs and freight required in bringing the goods to the named port of destination. The risk of loss or damage is transferred from seller to buyer when the goods pass over the ship’s rail in the port of shipment. The seller is required to clear the goods for export.
CIF – Cost, insurance and Freight
The seller has the same obligations as under CFR however he is also required to provide insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage to the goods during transit. The seller is required to clear the goods for export.
EXW – Ex Work
The buyer bears all costs and risks involved in taking the goods from the seller’s premises to the desired destination. The seller’s obligation is to make the goods available at his premises (works, factory, and warehouse). This term represents the minimum obligation for the seller.
FCA – Free Carrier
The seller’s obligation is to hand over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the named place or point. If no precise point is indicated by the buyer, the seller may choose within the place or range stipulated where the carrier shall take the goods into his charge. When the seller’s assistance is required in making the contract with the carrier the seller may act at the buyers risk and expense.
CPT – Carriage Paid To
The seller pays the freight for the carriage of goods to the named destination. The risk of loss or damage to the goods occurring after the delivery has been made to the carrier is transferred from the seller to the buyer. This term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
CIP Carriage and Insurance Paid To
The seller has the same obligations as under CPT but has the responsibility of obtaining insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage of goods during the carriage. The seller is required to clear the goods for export however is only required to obtain insurance on minimum coverage. This term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
DAT – Delivered At Terminal
The seller is responsible for the costs and risks to bring the goods to the point specified in the contract. The seller delivers when the goods, once unloaded from the arriving means of transport, are placed at the disposal of the buyer at a named terminal at the named port or place of destination. “Terminal” includes quay, warehouse, container yard or road, rail or air terminal. Both parties should agree the terminal and if possible a point within the terminal at which point the risks will transfer from the seller to the buyer of the goods. The seller is responsible for the export clearance procedures and the importer is responsible for clearing the goods for import, arranging import customs formalities, and paying import duty.
FAS – Free Alongside Ship
The seller has fulfilled his obligation when goods have been placed alongside the vessel at the port of shipment. The buyer is responsible for all costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods from that moment. The buyer is also required to clear the goods for export.
International shipping is tricky even for the experienced shipper and we are here to help. For additional international resources visit www.export.gov.
To find your HTS, go to https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/index.html
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