Learn the Basics

The first step to simplifying international shipping is being prepared. You will need the following information before you begin completing your shipping documentation:

  • A FedEx account number
  • The shipper's address and contact information
  • The recipient's address and contact information

The second step is accurate and complete documentation. Ensuring the accuracy of your documentation will help your shipment reach its destination on time and reduce the risk of it being held by customs and this includes a good description.

Did you know that accurate descriptions of contents are essential for timely customs clearance? One of the most common reasons for customs delays is an inaccurate or vague shipment description. A consistent and detailed description of your shipment contents on all documents will help reduce customs delays.

A good description must answer the following questions:

  • What is it?
  • How many are there?
  • What is it made from?
  • What is the intended use?

A detailed description on the FedEx Express® International Air Waybill and other customs documentation will help speed up the clearance time and reduce delivery time.


Poor Description (too vague) Good Description (specific and detailed)
Parts Two steel springs for woodworking machine.
Gift One men's knitted sweater (100% cotton) — unsolicited gift.
Samples 200 cm x 400 cm nylon carpet sample for demonstration.
Documents 30 pages of legal documents.
Food The word FOOD should be the first word in the description followed by a detailed description of the food items. (e.g., FOOD — one can of sliced peaches)
See Commercial Invoice Provide a good summary of all items. The description on the air waybill should be as detailed as possible.

Determine which international shipping documents you will need to complete based on whether you are shipping a document or nondocument shipment.*


Example of Document Shipment Documents Required
• Personal correspondence FedEx Express®
• Business correspondence • FedEx Express International Air Waybill
• Business contracts FedEx Ground®
• Completed invoices • FedEx Ground Shipping Label
• Commercial Invoice
Example of Nondocument Shipment Documents Required
• Parts (computer, machine) FedEx Express
• Photographs • FedEx Express International Air Waybill
• Commercial Invoice
• Clothing FedEx Ground
• FedEx Ground Shipping Label
• Commercial Invoice

In addition to the FedEx Express® International Air Waybill, the most commonly required documents for sending an international shipment include the Commercial Invoice, Export Declaration (B13A), Certificate of Origin, Toxic Substances Control Act form, and the U.S. FCC Form 740. The details of your shipment will determine which documents are required.

* Minimum documentation required.
† For FedEx International Ground shipments include four copies.