International shipping from the U.S. – The ultimate guide

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No one can argue that ocean freight is a vital gear in the global commerce wheel. Furthermore, its impact is undeniable: Ocean freight accounts for almost 90% of all global product transportation. But, whether it’s air freight or ocean freight, shipping policies, charges, fees, and the procedure itself can be a little confusing at times. Luckily, our international moving expert was kind enough to share some information with us so that we can create a thorough guide explaining every step of international shipping from the U.S. Read on to find out more.

International shipping from the U.S. – A step-by-step guide

There are numerous reasons why items are transported from the U.S. to all other continents. But, for the most part, it’s to raise the value of what you’re selling. As e-commerce expands, more small businesses are finding themselves in need of international shipping. Today, we’ll go through the full process of international shipping from the U.S. as well as costs so that you know exactly what awaits you.

a package in front of the door
International shipping can get confusing sometimes. Let us help you.

Step 1: Export Haulage

It is necessary to begin transportation by exporting goods. Workers move cargo from the shipper’s location to the forwarder’s location in this transaction. In the event of fewer than container load shipments, the forwarder’s premises is always an export consolidation center (an origin warehouse) where the forwarder either has their own staff or nominated agents in charge. Typically, the items would be transported by truck, train, or a mix of both. If the shipper is in charge of this component of the transportation, it is common practice to use a local transportation business to make the arrangements. It is more cost-effective to engage a freight forwarder who can provide export haulage as part of the overseas transportation, however, if the consignee is in charge.

Export haulage does not include cargo handling (loading into a truck) at the shipper’s premises, just as unloading the truck at the forwarder’s premises does not generally constitute export haulage. As you may have guessed, moving boxes overseas entails quite a lot of work.

Step 2: Export Customs Clearance

Customs procedures are required for every cargo departing a nation in order to fulfill regulatory criteria. Only licensed customs brokers are allowed to undertake customs clearing, which is a transaction in which a declaration is prepared and the necessary paperwork is submitted to the proper authorities.

A freight forwarder with a valid license or an agent designated by the freight forwarder may undertake export customs clearance. Or a customs house broker hired by the shipper, who isn’t involved in the shipping procedure at all, can handle it. Export customs clearance is a procedure that must be completed before a shipment may depart the nation of origin; in certain cases, it may be needed to be completed before the shipment arrives at the origin warehouse.

Step 3: Origin Handling

The term “origin handling” refers to the process of receiving and inspecting goods at the origin warehouse. Before the workers put it into a container for shipment. A number of different parties are involved in the origin handling process. But the freight forwarder or an agent designated by the freight forwarder is in charge of coordination and accountability. If you’re moving a very large or delicate item, make sure to get specialized services. For example, if you’re moving a piano, get in contact with some international piano movers. Short version: merchandise is unloaded into containers, examined and counted, loaded onto ships according to the plans, loaded into ships, and then unloaded onto ships.

shipping port
International shipping from the U.S. always starts with origin handling.

When it comes to origin handling, the freight forwarder is always responsible, although the shipper or consignee might choose to pay for it. After agreeing to pay origin costs with the shipper, the consignee will automatically purchase origin charges from Forwarder A as well, even if they haven’t elected to utilize Forwarder A for their import shipments yet. If a shipper considers that the price for origin handling is not at market levels, then using Forwarder A may cause some friction.

Step 4: Import Customs Clearance

It is possible to initiate the import customs clearance process before the shipment has even arrived at its final destination. Export customs clearance is a formality that involves preparing and submitting a declaration together with all necessary paperwork. So that authorities may register the cargo and assess any applicable customs duties. The freight forwarder or an agent of the freight forwarder, or a customs house broker chosen by the consignee, performs import customs clearance. In order for the goods to leave a customs bonded area, the import customs clearance procedure must be completed. Forwarders and their agents are responsible for inspecting freight before it leaves their warehouse.

Step 5: Destination Handling

Before goods may be released to a consignee, they must first be handled at the destination as well as the point of origin. In a nutshell, destination handling entails moving the container from the ship to land and from the port to the forwarder’s final storage facility. It’s best to work with a reputable international removals company. Unpacking the container and getting the goods ready for pick up by the consignee is also included in this service.

How much does it cost to ship internationally from the USA?

Even experienced shippers can mix shipping-related charges and fees despite the fact that it plays such an important role. Aside from the apparent freight costs, there is a slew of other costs to consider when estimating your export expenses. Whether you’re moving from USA to Europe or some other continent, these are the costs you need to bear in mind.

a shipping cargo ready for International shipping from the U.S.
Prices of international shipping from the U.S. depend on a number of things.

Freight forwarders and carriers often include these charges in their quotes for container shipment. However, there are some that are not listed and may be applicable to your cargo. For your convenience, we’ve broken down these costs into parts. However, keep in mind that certain expenses may fall under more than one category.

1. Shipping-related charges

The cost is dependent on the shipping company and the route selected. On the one hand, international trade flows heavily influence marine freight prices. Consequently, shipping costs from Europe or the United States to Asia are substantially lower than shipping costs from Asia to Europe or the United States. So if you’re moving from USA to Norway, for example, you’ll pay less than if you were moving from Australia.

While this is the case in all marketplaces, it’s also a result of the fierce competition across suppliers. Consequently, there is a pricing cycle on particular routes. It’s not unusual for carriers such as international movers to Australia to cut their pricing in order to entice customers. When one does this, usually the other carriers follow. Carriers will have to boost their pricing as soon as this reaches its lowest point. We call this a General Rate Increase.

2. Consolidation charge

Only LCL shipments are subject to a consolidation charge (low-volume shipments that do not warrant their own container). The freight forwarder or consolidator charges this fee, which covers the expense of combining several LCL cargoes from various shippers into a single shipping container for transportation.

3. Carrier fees

When fuel prices rise or supplies become scarce due to strong demand during the shipping peak season, shipping companies impose various fees to make up for the higher expenses they incur. Some of these costs you may avoid with forethought, but most cannot. Some of the more significant ones, however, can be traced back to their origins. There is a number of these carrier-related fees.

a woman counting dollar bills
Shipping charges can end up being quite costly.

4. Zone-specific  fees

International shipping costs can be influenced by the trade route you choose, particularly if it travels through specified zones and/or canals where extra taxes are levied. The usage of canals like the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal, as well as high-risk zones, may need additional payments. If you’re moving from USA to Spain, for instance, you can expect some prevalent zone-specific fees. Get in contact with your freight forwarder to learn more about how these costs may affect your preferred trade route.

5. Delay fees

Even the most experienced shippers have to pay delay fees since delays may arise for a variety of reasons. Customs examinations or holds are only a few of the unforeseen causes that might result in delay costs. Most shipping companies and warehouses provide free time to utilize their equipment, including containers. If the allotted amount of time isn’t used up, late penalties will be charged. In the maritime freight business, demurrage, detainment, per-diem, warehousing, and storage costs are some of the most prevalent delays.

6. Taxes

The value of the goods imported into the destination country is taken into account while calculating taxes and duties. Taxes and tariffs are typically the responsibility of the importer. Exporters, on the other hand, can be responsible for some situations in which they are not liable.

There is no price for the logistics of shipping products, however, there is a tax for commodities entering a country. Based on the destination country’s HS codes, the customs agency will decide how much you’ll owe, and it may be quite a bit. Taxes and charges sometimes outweigh the cost of transportation. Taxes and fees might have a significant influence on your total shipping costs while preparing your package. To receive an actual estimate of how much you’ll owe for your goods, speak to your agent at the destination.

a woman doing taxes
Your taxes will vary depending on the country you’re shipping to.

There is also a VAT (Value Added Tax). This is a tax in the European Union that varies from country to country. European Union (EU) tax rates are based on the CIF Incoterm and are expressed as a percentage of imports’ total customs value: declared product value + insurance + shipping. So, if you’re moving to Germany, for example, you’ll need to check with moving companies in Germany and their customs as well, in order to know for sure how much you need to pay.

7. Duties

The CIF Incoterm charges duties as a proportion of the value of the products. Which includes the price of the items, the marine freight rate, and the cost of insurance. To ascertain this proportion, look at the HS code.

If the value of the goods is $100,000, and the matching HS code is a 6.5% tariff, the total charges are $6,500. You can come up with additional charges, such as anti-dumping duties, on certain items. These tariffs are imposed on imports whose prices are deemed to be too low by the government of the country of origin. Depending on the conditions, taxes as high as 50% of the product’s value may be imposed.

8. Custom Clearance Fee

When a nation’s customs officials check that all papers and commodities are in order, they assess whether or not they can enter the country.  A customs clearance fee should cover the administrative expenses of the procedures. The price varies from nation to country.

However, there may be extra charges if your situation warrants them. Customs officials may decide to check or examine your goods, for example. A variety of fees, such as inspection fees, transportation costs to and from the warehouse, and storage fees, may apply in these situations. The cost of inspecting or scanning your equipment varies depending on the kind of equipment used. In the US there are many sorts of customs inspections. You can learn more about it on the official website of U.S. Cargo and Border Inspection. You’ll find all the info you’ll need.

9. Documentation Fees

Paperwork is an integral part of shipping ocean freight. Even the simplest of shipments need a slew of paperwork that you need to complete and submit. If you’re sending goods internationally via ocean freight, be sure to keep track of all the paperwork and expenses involved in getting your consignment ready for transportation. According to the kind of cargo, destination, and customs requirements of your package, charges for paperwork might vary greatly. If you’re moving from USA to France, for example, you’ll need to start saving up some dollars for documentation. Typically, there is a fee for the delivery of papers.


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