Documentation & Shipping

Find out what documents are required to ship your products to various foreign countries. Also see information in Chapter 10 of the Basic Guide to Exporting under Getting Started.

AES Direct

AESDirect is the U.S. Census Bureau’s free, internet based system for filing Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) information to the Automated Export System (AES). It is the electronic alternative to filing a paper SED, and can be used by U.S. Principal Parties in Interest (USPPIs), forwarders, or anyone else responsible for export reporting.

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)

In order to develop, enhance, and maintain effective security processes throughout the global supply chain, U.S. Customs continues to accept applications in various international supply chain categories.

Container Security Initiative

In January 2002, U.S. Customs launched the Container Security Initiative (CSI) to prevent global containerized cargo from being exploited by terrorists. The initiative is designed to enhance security of the sea cargo container — a vital link in global trade. Some 200 million sea cargo containers move annually among the world’s top seaports, and nearly 50 percent of the value of all U.S. imports arrive via sea containers.

Documentation Requirements

U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Incoterms make international trade easier and help traders in different countries to understand one another. These standard trade definitions that are most commonly used in international contracts are protected by ICC copyright. The 13 Incoterms fall into four different groups. These four groups are:  Departure (E)  Main Carriage Unpaid (F)  Main Carraige Paid (C), and  Arrival (D)

Harmonized System (HS) Numbers Schedule B

There are millions of trade transactions occurring each year. These transactions are classified under approximately 8,000 different products leaving the United States. Every item that is exported is assigned a unique 10-digit identification code. Every 10-digit item is part of a series of progressively broader product categories. For example, concentrated frozen apple juice is assigned a 10-digit identifier that is aggregated into a broader category assigned a 6-digit identifier described as apple juice. The 6-digit identifier described as apple juice is aggregated into a broader category assigned a 4-digit identifier described as fruit juices and vegetable juices, etc. The 4-digit identifier is further aggregated into a broader category assigned a 2-digit identifier described as Preparations of Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts etc.

Foreign trade schedules 2005 Foreign-trade/schedules/b/2005  Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. (2006) (Rev. 1)

Shippers Export Declaration

Taxes and Tariffs

There are two generally accepted methods for calculating duty rates: CIF and FOB. Most countries use the CIF method. Some exceptions may apply. VAT (Value Added Taxes) are generally applied on the CIF or FOB + Duty value. The figures used below are for example only. For questions about duty and tax calculation call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E).

Temporary Exports

ATA Carnet