Customs Documentation Basics for Exporters
Customs documentation basics for exporters
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/territory 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
Step 1: The shipper will prepare the customs documentation
If it’s the first time you’re shipping internationally with FedEx: Make sure you have enabled Electronic Trade Documents® (ETD) to upload your documentation electronically. Don’t forget to send us your Power of Attorney (POA) to authorize us to perform customs clearance on your behalf.
If it’s the first time you’re shipping this type of goods: Make sure the goods you’re sending are allowed in the country/territory of destination. Identify the customs documentation that is required based on the destination country/territory and the type of goods being shipped.
Step 2: The shipper will prepare the Air Waybill, schedule a pickup and upload the customs documentation
When preparing your shipment, you need to put a copy of your Air Waybill and three copies of the commercial invoice on the package.
Expert tip: You can save time and paper by uploading your customs documents when using FedEx Ship Manager®.
To upload and transmit your documents electronically (and avoid printing), simply enable ETD within FedEx Ship Manager.
Step 3: The shipper will print Air Waybill, Customs documentation and stick it on your shipment
Have your shipment picked up at your convenience.
The role of FedEx
Step 4: We will take care of Export Customs Clearance
We will guide the shipment through export customs clearance. We will only contact you if there is missing or incomplete paperwork.
Good to Know: It’s rare to encounter any export customs delay.
Step 5: We will take care of your shipment in transit
We will take care of your shipment in transit.
Step 6: We will take care of Import Customs Clearance
We will guide the shipment through import customs clearance.
We will only contact the recipient for the payment of duties & taxes and in the case of missing information (EORI number, Power of Attorney, incomplete product information, etc…).
Expert tip: The recipient needs to respond to any import issues quickly to ensure a timely delivery of the shipment.
The role of the importer
Step 7: You will receive your shipment
The consignee will receive the shipment at the address completed on the Air Waybill.
Step 8: You will need to pay for duties & taxes
Except if agreed differently with you, the consignee will need to pay for duties & taxes advanced by FedEx.
Good to know: Depending on the shipment’s value, the importer may need to pay duties & taxes before he can receive the shipment.
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.
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.