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Having the right information for international documentation

The principal difference between selling a product in the U.S. and selling it internationally is the amount of documentation involved. 

Why is international documentation needed?

The U.S. government requires export documentation for a number of different reasons, including national security, control of products in short supply, compiling export statistics, administration of export laws, protection of endangered species and to protest U.S. export markets by ensuring product quality of specific exports.

And, each importing country has different requirements regarding import documentation for a number of different reasons, including the administration of their import laws, assessment of taxes, and protection from hazardous pests and diseases. 

Information you'll need

Having the following information on hand will serve you well for all of your international shipping documents.

  • The shipper’s FedEx account number.
  • The shipper’s name, address, phone number and tax identification number. (In the U.S., the tax identification number is the Employer Identification Number [EIN] or a Social Security number.)
  • The recipient’s name, address (including postal code), phone number and tax identification number.

Always ask customers in all countries for their postal codes; FedEx relies on these international codes to properly route your shipments to countries that have established postal code systems — like Canada, India and China. If you do not include the postal code, your shipment may be delayed.

Knowing the following information will also help you estimate duties and taxes and identify and complete the right international documentation, such as the Commercial Invoice:

  • The origin and destination countries.
  • The currency of transaction. (This is the currency in which you’ll be entering the value and charges related to this shipment.)
  • The purpose of the shipment (e.g. commercial, gift, sample)
  • The name and description of the product to find its Harmonized Code. (Harmonized Codes are used internationally to catalog and describe products for tariff and regulatory purposes.)
  • The product’s value for customs. (Enter the selling price or fair market value [even if not sold or for resale] of your shipment contents.)
  • The product’s country of manufacture. (The country where the product was built or created.)

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