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Freight from the USA
 
Currently, we do not support importing goods to the USA. Export only.
This page is for your information only. 

FAQ – IMPORT CARGO TO THE USA

1. What is The difference between Import and Export sea freight shipments?

2. What are FOB and DDU/DDP? What does it mean when I am dealing with a U.S. Freight Forwarder?

3. How does it work? What should I expect on my LCL import shipment by sea, step by step?

4. Why can't you provide a precise cost on my cargo release in the U.S. when quoting?

5. How can I estimate destination charges on LCL sea freight in the USA?

6. What documents should I submit to my import shipment at the origin and destination?

7. Can I amend my Bill of Lading?

8. What are Cubic Meters and W/M – weight or measurement?

9. Should I palletize my boxes or not?

10. What about insurance on my goods?

11. Do you guarantee transit time on my shipment?

12. What are ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions on sea freight shipments?

13. A ROADMAP FOR ISF

14. Shipping Household Goods to the USA. A Guide to Customs Regulations. 

15. More answers on the RANDOM TOPICS web page

 

1. What is the difference between Import and Export sea freight shipments?

When dealing with a U.S. Freight Forwarder (international transportation company), when importing goods to the USA by sea, a shipper should understand that unlike with export to the USA, U.S. Freight Forwarder initiates import shipments via its worldwide service partners network and may continue working on shipper's behalf as soon as goods are entered in the U.S. Commerce zone. For example, when importers tender goods to the international shipment by sea in the country of origin, they will work directly with the carrier's agent in the country where the goods are shipping from. The direct contact information of the carrier's agent at the origin will be provided in our email containing booking confirmations and shipping instructions. This approach avoids misunderstandings and errors when submitting cargo to the import sea freight shipment. After the cargo departs from the country of origin, the U.S. freight forwarder collects all charges that occurred on the imported sea freight shipment on a FOB (Free On Board) basis. It pays it to the carrier and its agent on the shipper's behalf. 

Upon receipt of an Arrival Notice on an import shipment by sea, as a rule (if not agreed in advance), our freight forwarders' service fee is 7.99%/$89 minimum on top of FOB freight charges paid on the shipper's behalf. We invoice the importer of records (as a rule, the consignee), including copies of all invoices related to the shipment we paid.

However, if a part of these freight charges (for example, delivery, THC, documents, etc. charges) had been paid by the shipper directly to the carrier and the agent in advance, then a proof of the payment (copy of the paid invoice(s) should be provided to us in advance. Then, we will not include these paid charges in our FOB invoice.

NOTE: The approach above may differ if you intend to use a service from an international moving company to ship cargo to the US (particularly household goods or personal effects). If you want to use a global moving company instead of an international transportation company (i.e., an international freight forwarder, particularly our service), please conduct business with the international moving company. International moving companies have unique rules and requirements for importing goods to the USA.  

2. What are FOB and DDU/DDP? What does it mean when I deal with a U.S. freight forwarder?

FOB and DDU or DDP are Incoterms terms. Incoterms are not transportation but trade terms widely used in international trade practice (particularly in the sea freight industry) to indicate responsibility and ownership of goods when transferring from seller to buyer.

Important: This topic is not intended to be a concise definition of Incoterms abbreviations but rather to provide the meaning they may apply when dealing with US Freight Forwarder (an international transportation company) on sea freight import shipments.

We will go around just two terms: FOB - Free on Board (1) and DDP - Delivered Duty Paid (2), most commonly used by freight forwarders in sea freight. We use an example of importing goods to the USA using the LCL sea freight service. However, the procedures are standard regardless of the type of service in the sea freight.
  
1. FOB -- Free On Board, in respect of sea freight, means that the freight forwarder's responsibilities are limited by setting up a shipment at the origin and issuing it to the importer of record (as a rule, the consignee/recipient of cargo) carrier's Arrival Notice, Bill of Lading and Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary). I.e., for shipments on FOB, after goods had been submitted to the direct ocean freight carrier at the origin, loaded on board the vessel, sailed from the origin, and entered the U.S. Commerce zone (i.e., reached the USA) and carrier's Arrival Notice is issued to the importer of records along with the Bill of Lading and freight forwarder's Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary), all cargo recovery formalities and charges at the destination (in the USA) are the importers of records' responsibilities and on account of the importer of records. 

IMPORTANT!: Our ocean freight import shipments are initially on FOB (But DDU or DDP).   

  • TERMINAL-TO-TERMINAL sea freight on FOB -- Origin charges are payable directly to the carrier and carrier's agent at the origin. The freight forwarder's invoice includes costs related to ocean freight only. All destination charges are payable directly by the importer of records to the carrier/carrier's agent at the destination. U.S. Freight Forwarder is not responsible for the cargo recovery.
  • DOOR–TO–TERMINAL on FOB -- Besides tasks with the TERMINAL–TO-TERMINAL, the Freight forwarder arranges pickups of goods at the origin on behalf of the importer. However, the pickup charges (or part of these charges) may still be payable directly to the carrier's agent at the origin. The freight forwarder's invoice includes full or partial charges related to the pickup at the origin and costs associated with the ocean freight. Destination charges are payable directly to the carrier's agent at the destination.

    Notice our fee for FOB import shipments: Upon receipt, an Arrival Notice on an import shipment by sea initiated on FOB, as a rule (if not agreed in advance), our freight forwarders' service fee is 7.99%/$89 minimum on top of FOB freight charges paid on shipper's behalf. Before we release freight to the consignee, we will invoice the importer of records (as a rule, the consignee), including copies of all invoices related to the shipment we paid. Freight cannot be released to the consignee unless our FOB sea freight invoice is paid in full.

    IMPORTANT!: After our FOB invoice is paid, we will ask the importer of records to reconfirm TO US their choice (A or B):

    A. Either you will work on the recovery by yourself/use the service of your Customs Broker or

    B. You need us to work on the recovery on your behalf.
    Notice our service fee on the second stage of your shipment - the cargo recovery in the USA: 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery, excluding U.S. Customs duty.

2. DDP -- Delivered Duty Paid means that the freight forwarder will continue his work on sea freight shipment recovery at the destination (in the USA) on behalf of the importer of records (as a rule, the consignee) and collect and pay all charges related to the import recovery on the importer of records' behalf.

However, destination charges on DDP shipments can be assessed only after entering the U.S. Commerce Zone. Therefore, destination charges in quotes on DDP are provided (if provided), just a rough estimation. You may refer to the estimation of destination charges in this linkNOTE: it may not apply if you plan to use a service from an international moving company.
 
With us, to proceed on DDP, the FOB freight invoice must be fully paid before we may move to DDP. This approach has the advantage for importers: FOB is paid after the sea freight invoice. The carrier's bill of lading, along with all other related shipping documents, is obtained by the importer. The importer can make their final decision: either to continue using our service on DDP when goods arrive in the USA or be directly involved in the cargo recovery at the destination and use the service of any U.S. Customs Broker of their choice.

NOTICE: IMPORT RECOVERIES ARE TIME-SENSITIVE. UPON YOUR FOB PAYMENT, PLEASE ACT PROMPTLY!

  • TERMINAL-TO-TERMINAL on DDP -- On top of the TERMINAL–TO-TERMINAL on FOB, the freight forwarder handles entry, U.S. Customs, and warehouse(s) release(s) on behalf of the importer. The importer must arrange to pick up released goods from the destination terminal.  
  • TERMINAL-TO-DOOR on DDP -- On top of the TERMINAL-TO-TERMINAL on DDP, the freight forwarder handles delivery service to the importer in the USA. 

    NOTE: To avoid storage charges on cleared with U.S. Customs sea freight shipments, we would recommend considering self-pickup on import ocean freight shipments. 
  • DOOR-DOOR on DDP – The freight forwarder handles the door-to-door shipment and collects all charges. Not always available.

Refer to the table below.

Sea freight to USA

3. How does it work? What should I expect on my LCL import shipment step by step?

Import sea freight shipments with us, unlike export, are always divided into two parts: FOB (1st) and DDP (2nd). See above.

Our policy states that we may proceed to the second part of shipment on DDP only after the first part of FOB is completed. We have issued the importer carrier's Bill of Lading and related shipping documents. In other words, we may accept responsibility for work on your ocean freight recovery - the second part of DDP in the United States only after we get:

  1. Notice of Arrival on your import shipment;
  2. All import shipping documents provided by the importer of records are in proper order;
  3. Our FOB invoice is fully paid.

Here are the six steps that you should be aware of:

1st STEP – BOOK YOUR SEA FREIGHT SHIPMENT ONLINE.

The first and necessary step to begin a sea freight shipment with us is to schedule the shipment online on our website. I.e.:

  • Get a freight price quote on our website (for LCL import sea freight shipments, select the destination country - USA in our online LCL freight price quote calculator). 
  • Then, please complete and submit our secure online booking form via this quote from our website.  

We do not accept bookings over the phone or via fax to avoid misinterpretation, misspelling, and miss-typing. 

IMPORTANT!: THE QUOTE ON OUR WEBSITE IS THE OCEAN FREIGHT ONLY. NO ORIGIN AND DESTINATION CHARGES ARE INCLUDED IN THIS QUOTE. REFER TO THIS LINK.

2nd STEP – FIRST-TIME CUSTOMERS PAY SECURITY DEPOSIT.

After submitting your booking request online, you will receive our email with our Customer Reference Number for your import shipment and:

  • If it is your first shipment with us, then you will receive an email with a request to pay a security deposit. Typically, this deposit equals 75% of the estimated ocean freight cost of the FOB part of your shipment. The deposit will apply to the final price of the FOB part of your shipment. Consider this email an invoice for your deposit.  

We accept major credit cards online via Google Checkout and PayPal. We welcome business and personal checks, money orders, and wire transfers. Refer to our payment options in this link. Please review the Payment Conditions and Return Policy.

  • Customers who already have an account with us should disregard this deposit request. They wait for an email with shipping instructions and, after that, for our final invoice.

3rd STEP – RECEIVE SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS VIA EMAIL, SUBMIT YOUR GOODS TO THE OCEAN CARRIER AT ORIGIN, AND SHIP TO THE USA.

Scheduling Import sea freight shipments may take up to five working days from the day of booking. In certain circumstances, it may take longer. 

  • For new customers, time counts from the day of receiving funds on the security deposit. After we receive the deposit, we send it to the payer confirmation email. Consider emailing a receipt for your paid deposit.

We will work with an ocean carrier/its agent on your import shipment by sea. Upon completion, the shipper will receive our email with a booking confirmation. It should contain:

  1. Our Reference No. and Carriers Booking No.;
  2. Carrier agent's contact information at origin;
  3. Sailing details on your shipment, etc.

Contact the ocean carrier/agent at the origin to proceed with your shipment. Follow the ocean carrier/agent instructions on your cargo delivery to the ocean carrier sea freight ship terminal (CFS). Provide proper export documentation in forms obtained from the carrier/agent, including complete info on the filing of ISF.

ORIGIN CHARGES: The ocean carrier/agent should provide you with a complete FOB price quote based on the information you entered when booking your shipment on our website.

CORRECTIONS IN YOUR INITIAL BOOKING REQUEST: To avoid misunderstandings and errors in your shipping documents, including b/l, having contact info of the ocean carrier/agent, we strongly recommend working on all corrections in your booking request directly with the ocean carrier/agent. Please keep us posted on all your corrections in an email (cc your emails to the ocean carrier/agent to us).

NOTE: We may email you links to complete your Valued Packing List and Commercial Invoice online. However, we strongly recommend you follow your ocean carrier/agent requirements in all aspects of your international shipment at the origin. 

IMPORTANT: You may be asked to pay an entire or part of the origin charges directly to the agent. Keep records and receipts of your payments. We will ask you to reconfirm all those payments before issuing our final invoice on FOB. We will not include any charges you paid at the origin of our FOB invoice.

4th STEP – WAIT FOR AN ARRIVAL NOTICE, PAY OUR FOB INVOICE, AND RECONFIRM YOUR CHOICE ON DDP. W/M.

It is too hard to predict the precise w/m (i.e., total size and weight) of sea freight shipment at the time of booking. The actual w/m on your shipment will most likely differ from those you had estimated in your initial booking request. Shippers may obtain verified w/m when tendering their boxed, crated, or palletized cargo to the ocean freight ship terminal at the origin (CFS).

After the ship terminal accepts your cargo for international shipment by sea, the carrier will bill us based on your sea freight shipment's actual size and weight. Our FOB invoice to you will be based on this verified w/m information. This verified w/m info will go through all your further shipping documents, including your bill of lading - the title of your shipped goods.

Upon receipt of an Arrival Notice/Pre-advance, we email you our FOB freight invoice with total charges minus the security deposit and any costs and fees (if any) you had already paid directly at the origin. Upon your payment on FOB, we will send you our confirmation email. Consider this email a receipt of your FOB invoice paid.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! IF YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE AN ARRIVAL NOTICE AS EXPECTED (i.e., at least a few days before ETA - Estimated Day of Arrival for your shipment), THEN URGENTLY CONTACT US IN EMAIL AND OVER THE PHONE!

After our FOB invoice is paid, we will ask the importer of records to reconfirm to us their choice (A or B):

A. Either you will work on the recovery by yourself/use the service of your Customs Broker or
B. You need us to work on the recovery on your behalf.

NOTE: IMPORT RECOVERIES ARE TIME-SENSITIVE. PLEASE ACT PROMPTLY!

5th STEP – RECOVER YOUR GOODS OR REQUEST US TO CONTINUE ON DDP (OPTIONAL).

If you choose A, i.e., you will work on the recovery of your sea freight import by yourself/use the service of your Customs Broker:

The carrier's Arrival Notice is issued to the importer of records along with the Bill of Lading and freight forwarder's Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary). All cargo recovery formalities and charges at the destination (in the USA) are the importer of records' responsibilities and are on account of the importer of records. Our service provided to you is completed.

If you choose B, i.e., you need us to work on the recovery on your behalf. Please notice our service fee on the second stage of your shipment - DDP, the cargo recovery in the USA: 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery, excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). 

IMPORTANT! To accept responsibility for recovering your sea freight import shipment, ALL DOCUMENTS NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE RECOVERY MUST BE TIMELY PROVIDED BY THE IMPORTER OF RECORDS. We, along with our customs broker, should guide you. However, in the event of lack or delays with any necessary documents related to the recovery, we cannot be held responsible for any problem and extra charges that may occur on the recovery due to the insufficiency of documents provided. 

6th STEP – HAVE YOUR CARGO RELEASED TO YOU.

Having your cargo released by U.S. Customs, sea freight carrier's terminals, and all other parties related to the cargo recovery (if any), we will email you our final DDP invoice, including our service fee - 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). It will combine all DDP charges assessed on the release of your shipment. We will furnish you with copies of documents that confirm each charge in our invoice.

After our DDU invoice is paid, we will issue our release letter. At this point, you can pick up your released goods at the destination warehouse in the USA. You may hire an international moving company or a local moving or cartage company to deliver and unload your imported goods.     

4. Why can't you provide a precise cost on my cargo release in the U.S. when quoting?

Destination charges are time-sensitive matters.

  • Customs duty and entry-related charges are effective on the day of entry of goods in the U.S. Commerce Zone; 
  • THC - Terminal(s) Handling Charges and terminal(s) release-related charges are effective on the day of release;
  • Delivery charges (if any) are upon dimensional weight verification.

However, we do not add any fee on top of actual destination charges on your cargo release. Our service fee is a flat sum - 7.99%/$89 minimum on total costs related to the import sea freight recovery, excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). We will furnish you with copies of documents confirming each charge in our invoice. You are advised of this fee in advance.

5. How can I estimate destination charges in the USA?

Follow this link to estimate destination charges on LCL sea freight import shipments in the USA. 

6. What documents should I submit to my import shipment at the origin and destination?

Find out about shipping documents when importing cargo to the USA by sea

7. Can I amend my Bill of Lading?

Any amendment in a sea freight Bill of Lading after it has been issued is a headache for you. It may not always be possible, especially when goods have arrived at the destination. We strongly recommend you pay extreme attention to the information you are entering when booking your sea freight import shipment. While submitting your shipping documents, you will have several opportunities to verify and correct the entered info before your cargo departs for the USA.  

As soon as a sea freight Bill of Lading is issued, any amendments are subject to the carrier's amendments fee. This fee varies from $70 to $200 or even more.
 
If you still need amendments, we may work on these amendments on your behalf (if possible). However, we will charge you for this depending on the complexity on top of the carrier's amendments fee. Completing B/L amendments is not guaranteed and may take an uncertain time.

8. What are Cubic Meters and W/M – weight or measurement?

One cubic meter is a considerably large volume.
A cubic meter is a volume measurement equal to space one meter wide, one meter long, and one meter high.
One metric meter = 3.28 metric feet.
ONE CUBIC METER = 35 CUBIC FEET.
Find more about Cubic Meter

W/M – weight or measurement, whichever is greater. W/M presents a cargo density limit, typically per Cubic Meter. 

Find more about W/M at 

9. Should I palletize my boxes or not?

Palletized and shrink-wrapped sea freight cargo have a much higher probability of reaching the destination without damages or loss. However, additional charges for palletized cargo will appear:

Cost of pallet and labor
An amount due to extra chargeable volume for palletized cargo
Find more on this topic  

10. What about insurance on my goods?

Find more about insurance on sea freight. 

11. Do you guarantee transit time on my shipment?

ETT - Estimated Transit Time, i.e., a time slot between ETD - Estimated Time of Departure and ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival in sea freight quotes are not precise and should be verified upon a booking request. Transit time in booking confirmations on shipment by sea cannot be guaranteed. Although ocean freight cannot guarantee transit time, typically, shipments depart and arrive as scheduled.

12. What are ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions?

Find out about ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions.

13. A ROADMAP FOR ISF (Importer Security Filling)

Now that ISF (10 + 2) is a reality, what should everyone do? We hope the following document will help you understand exactly what needs to be filed and when and help you determine where to obtain the data elements. Any brokers reading this document should share this with your clients.

Who is responsible for filling it?

ISF stands for Importer Security Filing. This is an importer's responsibility and not a broker's responsibility. However, we expect most importers will need the broker's assistance to prepare the filling. For each importer, you must look at the supply chain and identify where each data element can best be found and how to obtain the information before loading the vessel.

When do we need to file?

As of January 25th, 2009, EVERY ocean containerized shipment will require an ISF filing for every cargo group on the vessel. This filing must be CBP at least 24 hours before loading the ship.
What information do we need to file?
For you smart people out there, please do not point out that there are, in fact, eleven required data elements. The 10+2 acronym ignores the B/L.

1. Bill of Lading

CBP uses this to control the filing. You should report by house bill if you have one; otherwise, use the master bill. You will inform all parties to the transaction soon in one filing. These parties should be identical. If you have one bill of lading with several consignees (for instance), it must be split into multiple filings using the same B/L.

2. Importer of record

This should be the easiest to report. It is the same as the importer on the entry side. It is usually written using an EIN, SSN, or customs-assigned number. Personal effects can also be reported by passport number. The importer's bond will also be indicated on the transmission. The regular bond will be used unless a new ISF bond is obtained just for security filing.

3. Seller

This will be the name and address of the last known party by whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the importation is not the result of a purchase, then the name and address of the owner must be given. This would usually be found on the commercial invoice. You will now need access to the commercial invoice data at the start of the shipment cycle. Another catch is that you cannot just send the MID. You need to send a full detailed address, but the Xtheta software will let you look it up by MID.

4. Buyer

This will be the name and address of the last known party to whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the importation is not the result of a purchase, then the name and address of the owner must be given. In most cases, this party will probably be the importer of record. Our software will let you default this address based on the shipment profile, but you need to send a full, detailed address and not just the EIN. If this party is NOT the importer, the commercial invoice is an excellent place to find it.

5. Manufacturer or supplier

This may be either the name or address of the party that manufactured (assembled, grew, produced) the product or the name and address of the supplier of finished goods in the country of export. Once again, no MID is sent, but we will let you look it up in the MID database to get the address. This address may be on your commercial invoice or packing list.

6. Ship To

This is the name and address of the first delivered to a party receiving the goods after release. This will generally be the same as your customer or maybe one of the delivery addresses on file for the customer. This may need some research to get this information earlier, but you will need it later for the delivery order.

7. Consignee

This is reported the same way as it would be written on the 3461 as an EIN, SSN, or Customs assigned number. In most cases, it will be the same as the importer on an ocean shipment. If it is different, you must obtain this information much earlier.

8. Container Stuffing Location

This is the name and address of the physical location where the goods were stuffed into a container. This may be at the overseas plant or a freight consolidator. This (and the next element) will be the most complex information to locate. You must work with your supply chain providers to identify who has this information and how they can get it to you BEFORE loading the vessel. CBP allows some leeway in these fields as they can be filed as an amendment once the ship is on the water.

9. Container Stuffer

This is the name and the address of the party stuffing the container. This may well be the overseas freight consolidator.

10. HTS#

You must report every HTS# (at the 6-digit level) to classify the cargo. This will probably be best accomplished from the commercial invoice.

14. Shipping Household Goods to the USA. A Guide to Customs Regulations.

If you ship household goods or personal effects to the USA, you may want to read this link.

Notice: These rules are also valid on sea freight for shipping household goods or personal effects to the USA when you use an international moving company service. 

15. More answers on the RANDOM TOPICS web page 

Find more answers to your questions on our RANDOM TOPICS web page.   

 

 

 
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