When you’re shipping products to other countries, the last thing you want is for those items to get held up in customs. Delayed shipments tie up your inventory and create unwanted issues for your customers. How do you keep your shipments moving — and your customers happy?
Here are some tips and tools to make your customs clearance run smoothly:
- Learn about your markets: Before you ship, make sure you and your recipients have a solid understanding of the import requirements for your destination country — what is and isn’t allowed and what paperwork is needed. For instance, most shipments require a Commercial Invoice, something many shippers overlook. That’s one of the most common mistakes made; either the Commercial Invoice is incomplete or people don’t realise that they have to submit one. Depending on the commodity and its value, other clearance information and documentation (in addition to the Commercial Invoice) may be required for a shipment, such as tax ID or import license. Your shipment may be held up in customs until they receive all the required documentation from the importing recipient.
- Avoid surprises: Ancillary clearance service fees may apply to shipments with special clearance needs. Double-check the ancillary landing page to learn what may be incurred for your shipment.
- Stay connected. One of the most basic things a person can do is to make sure to have good information about the recipient; include an up-to-date mailing address, phone number and email address. Should issues arise while your shipment is in transit to the destination country, make it as easy as possible for FedEx or your broker to contact the recipient.
- Be thorough. Identify whether the shipment is personal or for business, and be specific when giving a shipment description. For instance, if you’re shipping laptop bags, don’t just write “bags.” Include precise information about the bags ― what they are, how they are used, their size, what they are made of, and so on. The more detail you can give, the more it will help the process move smoothly and customs will clear your shipment faster.
- Be upfront. State the accurate value of a good ― a miscalculation can hold up its approval in customs. Even if it’s not intended for resale, you should not put the amount as ‘zero Euros’. Everything has a value.
- Automate. Through our free online systems, FedEx provides you with the ability to create airway bills, Commercial Invoices and any other paperwork necessary to successfully complete your international shipment. Automated steps mean fewer issues arising at customs.
- Electronic Trade Documents save you time, money and paper by allowing you to complete your customs forms online. Upload your own customised documents or use ones generated by the FedEx® automation system. Either way, it’s a streamlined, eco-friendly solution.
- FedEx® Global Trade Manager is a free, comprehensive online software solution that guides you through the proper documentation for international shipping with FedEx Express or FedEx Ground. Find the harmonised code for your shipment, get the regulatory news you need, and estimate duties and taxes ahead of time. Automated tools take you through every step of your forms, and in the Document Preparation Centre you can create, store, edit and reuse customs documents online.
Gathering all the right information on the front end can drastically improve the import-clearance process, so that your products can get where they need to be — and you can breathe easy.