Customs compliance made easy
One challenge every international shipper faces is customs compliance. Use these tips to determine what you need to keep your shipments compliant and help ensure packages move smoothly when they cross borders.
Do some preliminary work
Think of these resources as your starter kit for customs clearance. Right here, you’ll find valuable information to help you prepare your shipments.
Determine whether you can ship your commodity
Many countries have restrictions on which commodities may be shipped across their borders and which services may be used to ship them. Get detailed information about these restrictions in our country profiles. Plus, make sure you’re not shipping a prohibited item or shipping to a denied party.
Select your broker
Inaccurate or incomplete broker information can cause shipping delays. You can take advantage of FedEx brokerage® services or designate your own broker. If you choose FedEx brokerage services, don’t forget to send us your power of attorney (POA) to authorize us to perform customs clearance on your behalf.
Identify commonly used customs documents
Depending on the specific product you’re shipping and the country you’re shipping to, you may need to include:
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing List
- Certificate of Origin
- North American Free Trade Agreement Certificate of Origin
- Electronic Export Information
- Shipping Label (packages)
- Bill of Lading (freight)
Whether you’re shipping packages or freight, you can stay a step ahead by getting familiar with these common customs documents.
Gather important information
Before you begin completing your paperwork, make sure you have the information shown below. It will save you valuable time.
Understand ECCNs and export licenses
Before you ship, check to see if your product has an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN), a five-digit, alphanumeric code, created by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, that identifies the technology level and capabilities of your product. You’ll use this code to find out when and where you need an export license.
Find your commodity code in the Harmonized System
Start by preparing a detailed product description, a list of the raw materials the product contains, and information about how the product is used. This data is the basis for locating your Harmonized System code — a six- to 12-digit number used to declare your goods. The number drives duties, taxes, and the type of entry the product requires.
Confirm your commodity's value
The accurate and consistent commodity value not only impacts the duties and taxes, but also is required on many customs documents. If the total value of commodities in your export shipment exceeds $2,500, you will be required to file your shipments in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) — the primary system for reporting exports and imports to the government to determine admissibility.
While you're completing your customs documents, you may also find these tools helpful.
Need help finding the right documents?
Enjoy stress-free international shipping with FedEx HeadStart, a simple, easy-to-use application that pulls together international shipping documents for you.
Submit documents online with FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents
Save time and money by using FedEx Electronic Trade Documents for your international paperwork needs. You can enable FedEx Electronic Trade Documents in FedEx Ship Manager® at fedex.com.
Explore global trade resources
Find the right customs documents, review shipping advisories, estimate duties and taxes, perform denied party screenings, search for Harmonized System codes, and more.
File Electronic Export Information
Electronic Export Information (EEI) is used for compiling official U.S. export statistics and for enforcing U.S. export laws. Records must be retained for five years from the date of export.