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How to Ship Internationally

How to Ship Internationally

Make sure you have all the important details covered by using this easy‑to‑follow guide.

Make sure you have all the important details covered by using this easy-to-follow guide.

Make sure you have all the important details covered by using this easy‑to‑follow guide.

Make sure you have all the important details covered by using this easy-to-follow guide.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to International Shipping

Follow these steps to help your shipment arrive at its destination on time and without getting caught in customs.

 

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Ensure the item can be shipped as intended.


courier icon

Select a customs broker and determine the terms of sale.


information icon

Gather important information.


documents icon

Determine which customs documents are required.


print icon

Create an international label.


document icon

Complete and submit customs documents.


boxes icon

Package your item.


international icon

Get the package to FedEx.

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STEP 1

Ensure the item can be shipped as intended.

Many factors determine which types of commodities may be shipped across a country’s borders and who can receive certain types of shipments. You can find detailed, up-to-date information about the exporting and importing requirements of over 125 countries by referencing the individual Country Commercial Guides at Export.gov.

Depending on the contents of your shipment and the restrictions of the country you’re exporting from, you may also be required to obtain an export license or ECCN number to comply with Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

If a validated export license is required to export your shipment or if your shipment is over $2,500, Electronic Export Information (EEI) will need to be filed through the Automated Export System (AES). 

Some parties are also prohibited from receiving shipments. You can make sure you aren’t shipping to a denied party by screening your recipient information with a tool in FedEx® Global Trade Manager.

FedEx also has specific requirements about which kinds of items must follow additional shipping restrictions or are prohibited from shipping.

 


courier icon

STEP 2

Select a customs broker and determine the terms of sale.

Customs brokers help shipments clear customs without any delays or holdups. If there is a problem, your chosen broker will work on your behalf to resolve it.

Typically, FedEx® international services are broker-inclusive for shipments with a declared customs value of USD $500,000 or less. However, both you and the shipment’s importer/recipient have the option to choose your own non-FedEx broker.

The seller (often the shipper/exporter) and buyer (often the importer/recipient) should also determine the terms of sale, also known as the International Commercial Terms or incoterms. These terms specify exactly where ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer during the shipment’s transit. The point of transfer directly impacts which party pays for which costs, along with decisions about insurance, clearance, broker selection, some documentation responsibilities and delivery after customs clearance. 

 


information icon

STEP 3

Gather important information.

Before creating your customs documents and international shipping label, make sure you have enough information to answer these questions:

 

The purpose of your shipment (commercial, gift, sample, return and repair, personal effects or personal use) can have a large impact on customs requirements for the shipment. The shipment purpose can drive the need for certain customs document requirements as well as impact duties and tax calculations.

Usually, commodities are products that have commercial value and are therefore dutiable. As a result, commodities require a commercial invoice. On the other hand, documents are generally typed, written and/or printed matter with no commercial value. Documents usually do not require a Commercial Invoice.

If you are shipping a commodity, you will be asked to declare both its carriage and customs value. The declared value for carriage is the replacement value of the goods being shipped. It serves as the basis for computing freight charges and limiting the carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay. The declared value for customs is your shipment’s true monetary value, and may affect the transit time and when your shipment will arrive. It also determines how much import duty the package recipient must pay. Declared customs value is usually higher than carriage value.

This is the country in which the commodity was grown or manufactured. This information helps to determine any additional customs documents needed and potentially impacts the associated duties and taxes.

Every commodity needs to be properly classified under the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes to meet the U.S. and foreign governments' customs requirements.

The HTS assigns six-digit codes for general categories. Countries that use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than six digits, but all definitions must be within that six-digit framework. You must have a HS code for each commodity you ship. This code is also recommended to be included on your commercial invoice. Without the correct code, your shipment may be delayed, and you might receive a fine or more expensive tariffs.

You can sign up and use FedEx International Shipping Assist to search for or confirm a Harmonized Code for your shipment.

 

Customs officials use the value the shipper declares on the goods being shipped, along with the description of the goods and the country of manufacture, to determine duties and taxes. In some cases, you can select the shipper, the recipient or a third party as the party responsible for payment of any duties and taxes. 

 

A shipment’s importer and its consignee can be the same person or two different people. The importer is the owner or purchaser of the goods, while the consignee is the person or company (named in the bill of lading) to whom the commodities are shipped.

When creating your shipment you can choose the sender, shipper or third party to pay the transportation charges and applicable duties and taxes.


documents icon

STEP 4

Determine which customs documents are required.

The most common international document required for non-document, commodity-based shipments is the Commercial Invoice. It provides information for customs authorities, which helps them assess if the goods can move in or out of a country and what, if any, controls are needed. It also helps them determine duties and taxes. Other common documents include the Pro Forma Invoice (for shipments of free goods such as product samples, catalogues or products not intended for sale), Certificate of Origin and Packing List.

Each shipment’s required customs documents differ based on origin, destination and the commodity being shipped. Use FedEx International Shipping Assist to make sure you have the correct documentation to successfully clear customs.

 


print icon

STEP 5

Create an international shipping label.

You can complete the international shipping label and any other required documents online or in-store at a FedEx Office location. FedEx® Ship Manager also allows you to upload your documents while creating an international label online.

When filling out the international shipping label, provide the sender’s and recipient’s names, addresses and phone numbers. Then, add the description, quantity and value of the commodities in the shipment, along with the weight of the package.

Rates and transit times are calculated based on the commodity you are shipping, its destination and how quickly you would like the shipment to arrive.

Finish preparing the package by printing your label and slipping it into a clear plastic pouch along with any other documentation. Peel off the adhesive backing and firmly attach it to the largest flat side of the shipping container. Make sure you don’t tape over the label or cover it up in any way. If the package is too small to fit the entire label on one side, make sure the recipient’s address is on one side of the seam and the barcode is on the other.

 


document icon

STEP 6

Complete and submit customs documents.

Keeping descriptions of shipment contents consistent and detailed across all required documents will help reduce customs delays. A good description must answer the following questions for each commodity being shipped:

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

 

You can submit your documents in several ways:

Electronically:

  • Fill documents out on your own and upload them through FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents or FedEx Ship Manager.
  • Have FedEx generate your documents for you at the same time you are creating a shipping label in FedEx Ship Manager. You will need to select "enable Electronic Trade Documents" in the preferences section of FedEx Ship Manager for this option. These documents can be printed or sent directly to customs for pre-clearance approval.

Manually:

  • Fill documents out on your own and include them with your shipment.
  • Have FedEx generate your documents online through FedEx Ship Manager and then print and place them in your shipment.

 


boxes icon

STEP 7

Package your item.

Appropriate packing will help your shipment reach its destination safely and in the intended condition. You can order a variety of free, ready-to-use self-sealing packing supplies online at fedex.com, or pick them up at a nearby FedEx store. Use bubble wrap to pad the package if necessary. Review our tips on how to pack and follow our detailed guidelines to ensure the best results.

 


international icon

STEP 8

Get the package to FedEx.

If you live or work near a FedEx store or drop box, you can simply drop off packages that you've labeled and paid for online. You can also go to a FedEx store to fill out the required customs documentation and pay for shipping there.

For your convenience, you can also schedule a pickup online to have a package picked up directly from your home or office.

 


help icon

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more information? Find answers and additional information to help with your international shipping needs here. 

 

Many factors determine which types of commodities may be shipped across a country’s borders and who can receive certain types of shipments. You can find detailed, up-to-date information about the exporting and importing requirements of over 125 countries by referencing the individual Country Commercial Guides at Export.gov.

Depending on the contents of your shipment and the restrictions of the country you’re exporting from, you may also be required to obtain an export license or ECCN number to comply with Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

Some parties are also prohibited from receiving shipments. You can make sure you aren’t shipping to a denied party by screening your recipient information with a tool in FedEx Global Trade Manager.

FedEx also has specific requirements about which kinds of items must follow additional shipping restrictions or are prohibited from shipping.

 

Customs brokers ensure that shipments clear customs without any delays or holdups. If there is a problem, your chosen broker will work on your behalf to resolve it.

All FedEx® international services are broker-inclusive for shipments with a declared customs value of USD $500,000 or less. However, both you and the shipment’s importer/recipient have the option to choose your own non-FedEx broker.

The seller (often the shipper/exporter) and buyer (often the importer/recipient) should also determine the terms of sale, also known as the International Commercial Terms or incoterms. These terms specify exactly where ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer during the shipment’s transit. The point of transfer directly impacts which party pays for which costs, along with decisions about insurance, clearance, broker selection, some documentation responsibilities and delivery after customs clearance. 

 

Depending on whether the purpose of your shipment is commercial, gift, sample, return and repair, personal effects or personal use can have a large impact on customs requirements for the shipment. The shipment purpose can drive the need for certain customs document requirements as well as impact duties and tax calculations.

Usually, commodities are products that have commercial value and are therefore dutiable. As a result, commodities require a commercial invoice. On the other hand, documents are generally typed, written and/or printed matter with no commercial value. Documents usually do not require a commercial invoice.

If you are shipping a commodity, you will be asked to declare both its carriage and customs value. The declared value for carriage is the replacement value of the goods being shipped. It serves as the basis for computing freight charges and limiting the carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay. The declared value for customs is your shipment’s true monetary value, and may affect the transit time and when your shipment will arrive. It also determines how much import duty the package recipient must pay. Declared customs value is usually higher than carriage value.

This is the country in which the commodity was grown or manufactured. This information helps to determine any additional customs documents needed and potentially impacts the associated duties and taxes.

Every commodity needs to be properly classified under the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes to meet the U.S. and foreign governments' customs requirements.

The HTS assigns six-digit codes for general categories. Countries that use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than six digits, but all definitions must be within that six-digit framework. You must have a HS code for each commodity you ship. This code is also recommended to be included on your commercial invoice. Without the correct code, your shipment may be delayed, and you might receive a fine or more expensive tariffs.

You can use FedEx Global Trade Manager to search for or confirm a Harmonized Code for your shipment.

 

Customs officials use the value the shipper declares on the goods being shipped, along with the description of the goods and the country of manufacture, to determine duties and taxes. In some cases, you can select the shipper, the recipient or a third party as the party responsible for payment of any duties and taxes. 

 

A shipment’s importer and its consignee can be the same person or two different people. The importer is the owner or purchaser of the goods, while the consignee is the person or company (named in the bill of lading) to whom the commodities are shipped.

When creating your shipment you can choose the sender, shipper or third party to pay the transportation charges and applicable duties and taxes.

The most common international document required for non-document, commodity-based shipments is the Commercial Invoice. It provides information for customs authorities, which helps them assess if the goods can move in or out of a country and what, if any, controls are needed. It also helps them determine duties and taxes. Other common documents include the Pro Forma Invoice (for shipments of free goods such as product samples, catalogues or products not intended for sale), Certificate of Origin and Packing List.

Each shipment’s required customs documents differ based on origin, destination and the commodity being shipped. Use FedEx International Shipping Assist to make sure you have the correct documentation to successfully clear customs.

 

You can complete the international shipping label and any other required documents online or in-store at a FedEx Office location. FedEx Ship Manager also allows you to upload your documents while creating an international label online.

When filling out the international shipping label, provide the sender’s and recipient’s names, addresses and phone numbers. Then, add the description, quantity and value of the commodities in the shipment, along with the weight of the package.

Rates and transit times are calculated based on the commodity you are shipping, its destination and how quickly you would like the shipment to arrive.

Finish preparing the package by printing your label and slipping it into a clear plastic pouch along with any other documentation. Peel off the adhesive backing and firmly attach it to the largest flat side of the shipping container. Make sure you don’t tape over the label or cover it up in any way. If the package is too small to fit the entire label on one side, make sure the recipient’s address is on one side of the seam and the barcode is on the other.

 

Keeping descriptions of shipment contents consistent and detailed across all required documents will help reduce customs delays. A good description must answer the following questions for each commodity being shipped:

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

 

You can submit your documents in several ways:

Electronically:

  • Fill documents out on your own and upload them through FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents or FedEx Ship Manager.
  • Have FedEx generate your documents for you at the same time you are creating a shipping label in FedEx Ship Manager. You will need to select "enable Electronic Trade Documents" in the preferences section of FedEx Ship Manager for this option. These documents can be printed or sent directly to customs for pre-clearance approval.

Manually:

  • Fill documents out on your own and include them with your shipment.
  • Have FedEx generate your documents online through FedEx Ship Manager and then print and place them in your shipment.

 

Appropriate packing will help your shipment reach its destination safely and in the intended condition. You can order a variety of free, ready-to-use self-sealing packing supplies online at fedex.com, or pick them up at a nearby FedEx store. Use bubble wrap to pad the package if necessary. Review our tips on how to pack and follow our detailed guidelines to ensure the best results.

 

If you live or work near a FedEx store or dropbox, you can simply dropoff packages that you've labeled and paid for online. You can also go to a FedEx store to fill out the required customs documentation and pay for shipping there.

For your convenience, you can also schedule a pickup online to have a package picked up directly from your home or office.

 

Looking for more information? Find answers and additional information to help with your international shipping needs here. 

 

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Gather Shipment Information

Simplify international shipping with tools to help you find your shipment’s Harmonized Code, required customs documents and more.

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