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Two Things to Focus on When You’re Considering Going International

Over the years I’ve had many companies come to me when they start getting international orders because they aren’t sure how to fulfill them. Sometimes the task is too daunting, so they turn away international orders altogether. Rather than allowing them to walk away from business, UPS and the United States Commercial Service provide training on moving goods internationally.

Here are two topics that can be valuable to a company beginning to consider international orders:

1.     How to deal with moving goods

Shipping internationally costs a lot more than moving product to the next state. Because of that, it makes sense to understand what each shipping method offers.

Many customers think they want to ship via ocean – it’s the cheapest method out there. Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of upfront planning. Shipments could easily take a month and transit times aren’t guaranteed.

Air shipping can be a more reliable and quicker option. It can be broken down into two categories: freight and courier service (small package). Air freight is usually a better cost fit for large, heavy shipments and small package is a better cost fit for lighter shipments.

Regardless of the cost impact, air freight is often necessary for shipments that are oversized, palletized or need special clearance procedures. Small package shipments are better for smaller (<100KG) or time-sensitive shipments. For low-value, lightweight items that don’t require speed, UPS has an international mail product to fit the shipper’s needs.

2.     Customs documentation

I’ve known companies to discover they’ve been filling out documentation incorrectly and paying a lot more than they needed to. There are three documents used more often than any others: the certificate of origin, the electronic export information, and the commercial invoice.

  • Shippers often include certificates of origin when they’re not really needed — they should only include one when the buyer asks for one.
  • The Electronic Export Information (or EEI) is what used to be the SED (Shippers Export Declaration). It’s required for shipments with any schedule B number over $2500 or for shipments that require an export license. Many companies don’t know what schedule B numbers are or don’t know anything about export compliance. Or, they haven’t registered on AESdirect.gov to file the EEI themselves.
  • The commercial invoice is the most important international document. It’s necessary for every non-document shipment. Knowing how to designate the importer of record, value the shipment correctly and annotate terms of sale can impact how much the international buyers get charged.

There are many other aspects of fulfilling international orders, but understanding shipping options and customs documentation can start a company in the right direction.

Category: Business Insights, Global Impact, Helpful Tips and Ideas
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