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Freight from the USA

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The essential shipping documents

A set of documents required to have cargo released to international transportation from the USA, and pass customs clearance in the destination country, depends on the kind of commodity and the destination countryHowever, if you're shipping from the U.S. overseas general commodity, most of the time, all you will need is:

  • If this is commercial international cargo transportation, then shippers have to provide a Commercial Invoice. It can be a specific document prepared for transportation of particular goods with an attached detailed packing list. However, most of the time, small and medium-sized enterprises ship their goods with a copy of the purchase receipts or invoices, which describe the exporting goods and specify the value in U.S. dollars.
     
  • If, for some reason, exporters are unable to provide a commercial invoice OR shipping from the U.S. household goods or personal belongings, then they provide a Valued Packing List. A valued packing list for your shipping goods should be in a specific format. It must describe the number and type of shipping units, general cargo description, estimated weight, and value of the shipping goods in US$. When shipping household goods or personal effects, the value of goods declares at the shipper's discretion. However, the value should match its fair market value.
     
  • Also, before confirming cargo releases for the shipping goods out of the USA, ocean freight carriers may ask for copies of identification documents, such as a copy of passport, visa, tax ID, etc.

This is typically all that an average exporter should be aware of when shipping from the USA abroad general commodity.

However, certain countries in the world require special documents or apply certain restrictions on goods importing from the USA. A certain commodity may require a specific set of documents accepted by the ocean freight carrier to international transportation from the United States and pass the destination country's customs.

Providing a proper set of shipping documents at origin and destination is the exporters' and importers' responsibilities. If you are unsure about documents that you will need in your international shipping from the U.S., before shipping, contact your destination country's consulate in the United States or ask a customs broker licensed in the country. We'd recommend you visit the Intertek.com website and contact them if you have questions.

Sea freight bill of ladings that acts as titles of cargo shipping from the USA typically states 'SHIPPER LOAD AND COUNT' and 'SAID BY SHIPPER TO CONTAIN.' That means that neither the carrier nor the U.S. freight forwarder held responsible for any information related to commodity description. Freight forwarders should support shippers in international cargo transportation and the documentation flow. However, the shippers' and consignees' responsibility is to provide all necessary documents related to their international shipments. A lack or delay in providing documentation in proper forms during international shipping from the USA overseas may result in cargo delay, additional fees, administrative penalties, or even civil or criminal charges in countries of origins or destinations.

Please note that all documents necessary to obtain a freight release for the USA's shipping goods have to be provided to the ocean freight carrier before, or the latest on the day of cargo delivery at the ocean carrier's freight terminal (CFS).

 

Shipping documents with AMID Logistics

When you ship LCL freight from the U.S. overseas with AMID Logistics using our online freight calculator, you should be able to submit and receive essential shipping documents online.

Here is the "typical minimum" of shipping documentation that every exporter should receive or provide till cargo departs from the USA. AMID Logistics will guide you step-by-step in the international cargo shipping procedures. With us, you will send-receive everything online, no matter where in the world you are:

 

*Filling U.S. Shipper's Export Declaration (SED)

All goods shipping from the USA overseas or trans-shipping via the U.S. must be declared in AESDirect by submitting U.S. Shipper's Export Declaration in ace.cbp.dhs.gov and prove that in the bill of ladings by providing ITN. 

ITN is an Automated Export System (AES) generated number assigned to shipments transporting out of the USA. The ITN confirms that the SED was accepted and is on file in the AES. This number allows the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to retrieve the shipment if needed.

However, there are exceptions when filling SED. The most common exceptions are:

  • Shipping from the USA goods of the value less US$2500
  • The U.S. domestic ocean freight. Shipping out of the U.S. mainland to Hawaii, for example.

If shipping from the U.S. regular cargo, then average exporters should be aware that if the value of shipping goods declared in the commercial invoice or valued packing list is under the US$2,500, then filing U.S. Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) NOT required [REF: 15 CFR 30.55 (h)].

If SED requires, then AMID Logistics can fill a SED on the shipper's behalf for the fee of US$35, limited by up to two (2) Harmonized Tariff Codes. $20.00 per Harmonized Tariff number after that. Please note that shipping from the USA of Household Goods or Personal Effects typically requires just one Harmonized Code in the SED filing.
 
At a time of booking of an international shipment in our online booking form, the international shipper/consigner MUST request the SED filing OR provide ITN as the proof on filing U.S. Shipper's Export Declaration in separate e-mail no later than 72 hours before the ETD (Estimated Time of Departure of cargo shipping from the USA). No international shipments without the ITN number will be permitted to the international shipping from the United States unless it is exempt from filing SED.

IMPORTANT!: To file the shipper's export declaration, the consigner (the shipper), besides submitting a commercial invoice or valued packing list, must PROVIDE A U.S. FEDERAL TAX ID# (EIN) or A COPY OF HIS/HER FOREIGN PASSPORT. 

Since 2009, U.S. Social Security Numbers (SSN) are NOT acceptable by U.S. CBP for filing SEDs. All U.S. residents or visitors must obtain a TAX ID (EIN) from IRS no matter individuals or businesses.

If you are a U.S. citizen but don't have EIN, then please do not be frustrated. You can get a temporary EIN on the IRS.gov website almost at no time.

 

Other shipping documents

Certain destination countries, particularly countries in South America, Africa, countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and depending on commodity may require an additional set of documents to get carriers' cargo release for the departure from the United States or to be released in the destination country by the destination country's customs. You can consider customs clearance procedures by learning about such procedures in the United States concerning dealing with a U.S. customs broker in this link.

 

Mandatory documents in shipping goods from the USA

A. International Sea freight Bill of Ladinggenerates by ocean freight carriers as soon cargo has been loaded on board of the vessel. Shows cargo routing, consigner, consignee, cargo description, etc. The title of goods transporting from the USA overseas.

B. For international commercial shipments - Commercial Invoice. A complete description of the commodity being shipped.

C. For shipping from the USA of household goods and personal belongings – Valued Packing List. An inventory list with the value assigned to each item in US$.

Please note that some countries require proforma commercial invoices for importing from the USA household goods and personal belongings. However, having an accurate valued packing list submitted in the USA, upon the destination country's customs request, that valued packing list can be considered or transformed into a form of a proforma commercial invoice.

 

Additional documents may be required.

D. Packing List for an international commercial shipment - Breakdown description: pieces, weights, and packing materials. (Examples - Wood Pallets, Skids, Crates, Boxes, Dunnage, Straw Packing, etc.)

E. Fumigation Certificate - Certification that internationally shipped cargo and its packing materials were fumigated, and it is free of infestation.

F. Arrival Notice

G. Other specific documents in shipping goods from the U.S. overseas. Depends on commodity, country of origin, and destination:

  • Visa
  • Quota
  • Visa/Quota
  • Certificate of Origin
  • North American Free Trade Agreement Certificate of Origin
  • Packing Declaration
  • Dangerous Goods Declaration -  if hazardous materials
  • Fish and Wildlife Declaration
  • Consular Legalized documents
  • F.D.A.
  • U.S.D.A.
  • Anti-Dumping, etc.

 

Special requirements and limitations by country

Importing and exporting can be simple or full of regulation. It all depends on the commodity that you ship and what country you are shipping to. As soon as cargo is entered into the commerce zone of the destination country, neither U.S. Freight Forwarders nor carriers will be able to assist you in your import recovery in the destination country.
 
We routinely publish some incoming information related to shipping goods from the U.S. to particular countries on our website. However, this information may not be updated. Before shipping any cargo from the USA abroad, the shipper should find special import recovery requirements in a particular destination country. Contact a consulate of the country, which you're going to ship goods in the U.S., or ask a destination's customs broker about special requirements in advance. You may also want to check for updates on Intertek.com.
 
Below are some special requirements and limitations listed by countries of destination that we occasionally face in our practice.

ALGERIA: Shipping freight from the USA to Algeria requires to be covered by a Letter of Credit. Find more about shipping to Algeria in respect of the Letter of Credit in this link. Also, a Certificat de contrôle de qualité is required for all exports to Algeria.

AUSTRALIA: Australian shipments are restricted to wood packing. Find more about shipping freight from the USA to Australia in respect of ISPM15 regulations in this link.

BANGLADESH: Exports of second-hand capital machinery to Bangladesh may require an Inspection Certificate for Customs clearance.

BOTSWANA: Exports to Botswana must comply with the requirements of the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) Import Inspections Regulations (SIIR) to Standards Programme for the goods to clear customs.

BRAZIL: Shipping freight from the USA to Brazil requires an NCM number and CNPJ. Find more about shipping to Brazil in respect of NCM number and CNPJ in this link.

CAMEROON: Programme d’Evaluation de la Conformité Avant Embarquement (PECAE) for Exports to Cameroon.

CHINA: Shipping freight from the USA to China required the consignee's TAX ID# or consignee’s USCI#. Find more about shipping to China in respect of TAX ID# or consignee's USCI# in this link.

COLUMBIA: Shipping cargo to Columbia requires an NIT number (Colombian business tax number).

EGYPT: According to new security regulations, all shipments that go to/or transshipped via EGYPT and SPAIN require a copy of the consignee passport (or visa). Find more about shipping freight from the USA to/via Egypt in this link. Shipments also must be approved by GOEIC to issue the mandatory Certificate of Inspection for exports of Regulated Products to Egypt.

ETHIOPIA: Certificate of Conformity is mandatory.
 
GABON: Trading with Gabon needs to comply with the Gabon government's office's requirements, Agence Gabonaise de Normalisation (AGANOR) Conformity Assessment Programme called PROJECT for their goods to clear customs.

ISRAEL: Shipping freight from the USA to Israel required the consignee's VAT (TAX-Number). Find more about shipping to Israel regulations in this link.

ITALY: Shipping to Italy household goods or personal effects is subject to Italian Government restrictions and regulations. If shipping to Italy household goods or personal effects, then contact your local Italian Consulate in advance. Find more at this link.

IVORY COAST: The Government of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has introduced a Verification of Conformity program for all exports to the country.
 
KENYA: To assure Kenyan consumers of the safety and quality of the imported goods they buy and to protect Kenyan manufacturers from unfair competition, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), a statutory organization of the government of Kenya, has implemented guidelines called the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) to Standards Programme for exports to Kenya.
 
KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Industry of the State of Kuwait (PAI) implemented specific guidelines to verify the conformity of all 'Regulated Products' that are exported to Kuwait.' These guidelines are diligently enforced and form the Kuwait Conformity Assurance Scheme (KUCAS). Exports to Kuwait of these products 'Regulated Products require a Technical Evaluation Report (TER) and a Technical Inspection Report (TIR) to clear customs.
 
MOZAMBIQUE: Regulated goods (known as the Positive List) may be subject to pre-shipment inspection in the country of export before they are allowed into Mozambique. Goods on the Positive List have to comply with these regulations and be accompanied by a Documento Unico Certificado (DUC).

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand shipments are restricted on wood packing. Find more about shipping freight from the USA to Australia in respect of ISPM15 regulations in this link.

NIGERIA: Shipping freight from the USA to Nigeria requires 'M Form' before departing. Find more about shipping to Nigeria in respect of 'M Form' providing in this link. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has implemented a strict set of guidelines for exports to Nigeria called the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).

QATAR: Exports to Qatar of vehicle spare parts, tires, and some electrical products require a mandatory Certificate of Conformity for Customs clearance. Through the Qatar Ministry of Business and Trade – Department of Consumer Protection and the Qatar General Organization for Standards and Metrology (QGOSM), the Government of Qatar has issued a set of strict rules regulating the import and sale of Vehicle Spare Parts and Vehicle Tyres.

RUSSIA, BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN, ARMENIA, and KYRGYZSTAN: Compliance to Customs Union Technical Regulations is required when exporting to the Eurasian Economic Union - EAEU (former Customs Union). Member states are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. GOST certification systems for individual member states are gradually replaced by certification to the Customs Union Technical Regulations (CUTR).

TANZANIA: To assure Tanzanian consumers of the safety and quality of imported goods they buy and to protect Tanzanian manufacturers from unfair competition, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), a statutory organization of the government of Tanzania, implemented guidelines called the Pre-Shipment Verification of Conformity (PVoC) to Standards Programme.

SAUDI ARABIA: When shipping freight from the USA to Saudi Arabia, every package, carton, and box must be permanently marked, stating the Country of Origin. Find more about shipping to Saudi Arabia in respect of the Country of Origin marking in this link. For all exports to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a Conformity Assessment Programme has been implemented. All products require a Certificate of Conformity, also referred to as a SASO CoC, to enable them to be cleared through Saudi Customs.

SOUTH AFRICA: Shipping freight from the USA to South Africa is under certain restrictions. Find more about shipping to South Africa's restrictions in this link.

SPAIN: According to new security regulations, all shipments that go to/or transshipped via EGYPT and SPAIN require a copy of the consignee passport (or visa). Find more about shipping freight from the USA to/via Spain in this link.

UGANDA: Require a Certificate of Conformity for products regulated under the Uganda Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards Programme (PVoC).

UNITED KINGDOM: Shipping freight from the USA to the UK requires ToR1 filing before departing. Exempts from filing ToR1 are commercial (B2B) shipments and shipments to the UK consigned to UK citizens. If a shipment to the UK is consigned to a UK citizen, then a copy of the consignee's UK passport must be provided before shipment will depart from the country of origin. Find more about shipping to the UNITED KINGDOM in respect of ToR1 filing in this link

VIETNAM: All export shipments to Vietnam destinations require HS code and Consignee Tax ID to be included in all export documentation. Failure to provide this information will delay cargo from loading.

You may also want to check for updates from Intertek.com.

 

 
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