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Customs Documentation
Basics for Exporters

Customs documentation is your responsibility.

As the exporter, you’re responsible for preparing the customs documentation.

The type of documentation required depends on the type of goods you are exporting, their commercial value and the country of destination.

The most common required export documents are the International Air Waybill (required for all shipments) and the Commercial Invoice (required for most shipments with commercial value and destination outside the European Union).

Expert Tip: Completing all documentation correctly will help you avoid customs delays.

Your role, step by step, in the international shipping process.

The role of the exporter

Helpful customs tips.

While completing your documentation and preparing your shipment:

  • Make sure that the exporter’s and importer’s EORI number (or registration/VAT number for non EU based companies or ID number for private individuals) are clearly stated on the Commercial Invoice
  • Include a detailed description of goods in English on the Commercial Invoice
  • Include the contact details for both the importer and exporter
  • Make sure the information you put on the Commercial Invoice matches the information on the Air Waybill
  • Put three copies of the commercial invoice (the original and two copies) on the package

Online FedEx shipping tools guide you through the international shipping process; they allow you to upload all your customs documentation and transmit it electronically.

Learn more.

  • Why is a commercial invoice important? How do I complete it accurately?
  • What is an EORI number and where do I need to enter it?
  • What is a Power of Attorney and how can I grant it to FedEx?
  • What shipments are prohibited in the International FedEx network?

    For more information on country specific prohibitions contact us

    • Human corpses, human organs or body parts, human and animal embryos, or cremated or disinterred human remains.
    • Explosives *
    • Firearms, weaponry and their parts (acceptable between the U.S. and Puerto Rico).
    • Perishable foodstuffs and foods and beverages requiring refrigeration or other environmental control.
    • Live animals including insects.
    • Plants and plant material, including cut flowers (cut flowers are acceptable from the U.S. to selected points in Canada and from Colombia, Ecuador and the Netherlands to the U.S.).
    • Lottery tickets and gambling devices where prohibited by local, state, provincial or national law.
    • Money (coins, cash, currency, paper money and negotiable instruments equivalent to cash such as endorsed stocks, bonds and cash letters).
    • Pornographic and/or obscene material.
    • Shipments ** being processed under:
      • Duty drawback claims unless advance arrangements are made.
      • Temporary Import Bonds - acceptable under the FedEx International Broker Select option, for initial import only.
      • U.S. State Department licenses.
      • Carnets
      • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration export permit.
      • Letters of Credit. Shipments subject to Letters of Credit are generally prohibited, with the exception of shipments subject to Letters of Credit calling for a "courier receipt," as defined by Article 25 of UCP 600, shipped using the FedEx Expanded Service International Air Waybill.
      • Certificate of Registration shipments (CF4455).
    • Hazardous waste, including, but not limited to, used hypodermic needles or syringes or other medical waste.
    • Shipments that may cause damage to, or delay of, equipment, personnel or other shipments.
    • Shipments that require us to obtain any special license or permit for transportation, importation or exportation.
    • Shipments or commodities whose carriage, importation or exportation is prohibited by any law, statute or regulation.
    • Marijuana, including marijuana intended for recreational or medicinal use, and synthetic cannabinoids.
    • Shipments with a declared value for customs in excess of that permitted for a specific destination.
    • Dangerous goods except as permitted under the Dangerous Goods section of the Federal Express conditions of carriage.
    • Processed or unprocessed dead animals, including insects and pets. Taxidermy-finished hunting trophies or completely processed (dried) specimens of whole animals or parts of animals are acceptable for shipment into the U.S.
    • Packages that are wet, leaking or emit an odor of any kind.
    • Wildlife products that require U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service export clearance by FedEx prior to exportation from the U.S.
    • In-bond shipments destined to or being withdrawn from a Foreign Trade Zone or bonded warehouse, unless the FedEx International Broker Select option is selected for U.S. import shipments, or the FedEx International Controlled Export service option is selected for U.S. export shipments.
    • APO/FPO/DPO addresses.
    • C.O.D. shipments.

    * Class 1.4 explosives are acceptable for carriage to Canada, Germany, France, Japan, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. Note: United Arab Emirates only allows Class 1.4 explosives to be shipped hold-for-pickup to the FedEx Express facility in Dubai.

    ** You may be able to ship these items via FedEx International Controlled Export, FedEx International Premium, FedEx International Express Freight (IXF) or FedEx International Airport-to-Airport (ATA). For information on FedEx International Controlled Export, call International Customer Service at 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339 (say "international services"). For information on the other services listed call FedEx Express Freight Customer Service at 1.800.332.0807.

Complex customs clearance needs? We’ve got answers.

Do you need to designate a specific customs broker?

Our Broker Select option allows you to designate a specific customs broker. Simply select the FedEx International Broker Select option when preparing your shipment online and indicate the broker's address and telephone number on the FedEx® International Air Waybill.

To find out more, discover all our ancillary clearance services or get in touch with your FedEx Sales Executive.

Need a customized solution?

You can rely on our customs clearance specialist expertise to help you build the right solutions to your most complex customs needs.

Grow your business with FedEx. Learn more with shipping stories, tips and tools.