Friday, June 27, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 3)

Now that you have all of the information I've talked about for international customs forms, what's next? Well, more information is needed, of course. It is the government, after all! To finish filling out the commercial invoice and certificate of origin forms, you will also need your federal tax id number (or social security number), the country of origin of the goods you are shipping and the terms of sale. For the USPS, you will need to decide how you want non-deliveries treated and which customs form is needed. Harvey Software’s CPS(TM) shipping software supports both the 2976 and 2976A forms for the USPS and the Commercial Invoice and Certificate of Origin for any CPS carrier.

The Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is another form that may need to be provided. "May need" because shipment value is part of its requirements. Starting July 2, 2008, the Census Bureau requires mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is required. For more information, visit this web site:

Next time, we'll start to bring this all together with some international form samples, so subscribe to our feed now to receive this information automatically or visit us again soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 2)

For your international packages, do you create customs forms through your shipping software or do you attach your own forms to the package? Customs forms have to meet certain specs and need to contain specific information. This information includes a description of the goods in the shipment, their value, its classification (a merchandise sale, gift, documents only, etc.), and accurate customs Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes so that your packages clear customs without delays.

Here is some information about Schedule B codes that comes from the US Census Bureau. You can get additional information about these codes at the US Census Bureau web site:

Millions of trade transactions occur each year. These transactions are classified under approximately 8,000 different products leaving the United States and every exported item is assigned a unique 10-digit identification code. For example, concentrated frozen apple juice is assigned a 10-digit identifier that is in a broader category that is assigned a 6-digit identifier for apple juice. The 6-digit identifier for apple juice is in another broader category assigned a 4-digit identifier for fruit juices, vegetable juices, etc. The 4-digit identifier is in another broader category assigned a 2-digit identifier for Preparations of Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts, etc.

What's the difference between the Schedule B codes (for exports) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes (for imports)? All of the import and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS - The HTS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. Countries which use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, but all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework. The U.S. defines products using 10-digit HTS codes, like the example for concentrated frozen apple juice. Export codes (which the U.S. calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

The USPS uses forms called 2976 or 2976A to record and print this information. UPS and FedEx use a commercial invoice. Regardless of which form or carrier is used, your products must be properly documented or your package will sit at customs until clarification is provided.

We'll get into more about international customs forms in a subsequent post. There will be several more posts on international shipping to follow over the next few weeks. Subscribe to our feed to receive them automatically or visit us again next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 1)

When shipping internationally, there are 2 sets of information needed so your packages are delivered properly. One is for the carrier; the other is for customs.
Let's start with the most important items for the carriers. First, and it may sound obvious, but you need to know what the carrier calls the country you are shipping to. For example, let's use Ireland. If you are shipping via UPS, the country can be Republic of Ireland or just Ireland. For FedEx, you can only use Republic of Ireland. For USPS using Endicia, you can only use Ireland. Use the wrong one and you will not even get a shipping label. CPS has a pull-down country listing, but you still need to know which country listing your carrier needs.
Next is international paperwork. This includes Commercial Invoices, Certificates of Origin, USPS Customs Forms and SED filings. The carrier needs to know how the international paperwork is being handled or your package can be delayed clearing customs. Each customs form has a specific layout. Shipping software like our CPS can collect and print the needed forms in the right format.
Later on I'll include some more detailed information about some of the items in the customs forms, such as the Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes and other items.
International shipping is definitely not for the uninformed. There will be several more posts on this subject to follow over the next few weeks. Subscribe to our feed to receive them automatically or visit us again next week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Important Notice for International Shippers...

Effective July 2, 2008, the Census Bureau is requiring mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is required. They are also providing the trade an additional 90 days to implement these new requirements. After the 90-day implementation period, which ends September 30, 2008, you must file your export information electronically through the AES or AESDirect. Non-compliance to these new rules can result in some serious fines.

Click here to learn more about the SED changes…

One has to wonder why it is so hard to export goods when there is such a large imbalance between our imports and exports!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Does Flat Rate or Free Shipping Increase Sales?

According to last month’s shipping poll, 92% of those that voted said yes. There have been several other studies (much larger and better done than ours) that also indicate that free or flat rate shipping closes more sales and decreases shopping cart abandonment. It is important, regardless of your shipping policy, to tell customers about your shipping terms before they get to the final screen of your shopping cart system. We feel having a surprise at the end of checkout is the biggest single reason people never hit the final submit order button. You should instead use your shipping terms to help sell your products from the beginning. If you would like to learn more about ways to deal with shipping costs visit and download the free whitepaper on “Mail Order and Internet Retailer's Guide to Handling Shipping Costs”. Those that have read this whitepaper and followed its advice tell us it has increased their sales and decrease shipping costs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Will US Internet Retailers and Manufacturing See Growth from High Oil Prices?

Sounds crazy but it is a possibility! Yesterday an interesting article was published at describing how globalization and outsourcing may be changing in the near future due to oil prices. (See Article.) One example given was how it costs $8,000 to move a 40 foot container from Shanghai to the east coast of North America at current fuel prices. This is a major increase from 2000 when the same container cost only $3,000. This could have a leveling affect on businesses causing them to have more things to be made and grown closer to the ultimate customer. This could also mean shortages this fall for those that are not planning now. Only time will tell, but it does once again show how fuel and shipping charges can have a definite affect on many aspects of all business.

Monday, June 2, 2008

US Postal Service Shipping and Tracking (Continued)

Just as a follow up to the post on Thursday, May 29th concerning USPS® shipping and tracking, the package got there on time and with good tracking visibility. (See above.) This is a major tracking visibility improvement for USPS.