What You Need to Know About Shipping Internationally
05/21/2013 — Leah Palnik
Going global with your business is a great opportunity for growth. Whether you've already taken your business overseas or have just started to dip your toes in the international waters, simplifying your shipping is essential for keeping your business afloat. Here's what you need to know about shipping internationally:
Find your markets
When you're selecting your international markets, there are several factors to consider. You may start off by selecting markets where you have local distribution connections or markets that have signed free trade agreements with the U.S. You may also think about staying within markets with a common language to avoid any cultural or language barrier issues.
As you continue to expand it's also important to be aware of the requirements and restrictions you will encounter. Each country has different restrictions or prohibitions that affect what commodities are allowed to be important and exported.
Some countries also have standards you must adhere to. For example, China uses the China Compulsory Certification Mark (CCC), whereas European countries conform to the Conformite Europeenne (CE). Products not meeting the particular standards in these markets may be held up by customs and will be subject to other penalties. Make sure you are aware of these restrictions and standards to avoid any unwanted hassles down the road.
As a helpful tool for researching your markets, FedEx provides Country Profiles that can give you detailed information on import and export restrictions, trade group information, prohibitions, standards, and more.
Prepare your documents
There is a great deal of documentation involved with shipping and selling a product internationally. The U.S. government requires export documentation and each importing country will have different requirements for import documentation.
What documentation you have to submit with your shipment depends mostly on where you are shipping to and what you are shipping. The primary shipping document for most international shipments is the International Air Waybill (IAWB). Other documents you may need will vary. Some other common documents include the Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, and Electronic Export Information (EEI).
To help you determine what international documents you will need to complete, check out the FedEx International Document Assistance page.
Ship your products
When you have selected your markets, completed the necessary paperwork, and are finally ready to ship, it's important to select the right service at a low cost. It's also important to remember that things like duties, taxes, port handling fees and other customs charges will affect your cost. Saving money on your international shipments with a reliable carrier can make a world of difference.
FedEx offers a number of services to fit all of your international shipping needs. Through an association shipping program, managed by PartnerShip, you can receive discounts on your international shipments with select FedEx services. PartnerShip works with over a hundred major trade associations, across many industries to provide their members with the money-saving tools to help them be successful. If you belong to an association we work with, take advantage of our free shipping benefits today - and save on your international shipping. If you're not sure if you qualify for one of our shipping programs contact us and we'll find the solution that's right for you.