International shipments is the import and export of goods between different countries by sea, air or rail. International shipping is a complex process of moving goods across borders, with many rules and regulations.
To successfully ship from China to the US, businesses must understand and follow specific policies for international shipping and gather documentation so your shipment can clear customs.
How long does international shipments take?
International shipping can take anywhere from two days to four weeks depending on the size of the package or freight and the method of shipping. The basic trade-off when shipping goods is time versus money.
Air cargo is known for its fast delivery, but can be very expensive.
On the other hand, sea freight from China to the US may take more time, but save you money.
Typically, the international shipments process consists of 5 basic components:
Export Transportation – The movement of goods from origin to destination, to the next warehouse, port or facility company, and from there to the border.
Export Customs Clearance – When goods reach the border of the exporting country, they go through the customs clearance process before moving on to the next stage.
Shipping – After your shipment has successfully left the country of origin, the shipping process begins. This process may vary depending on the shipping method, carrier, and customer preference for expedited or standard shipping.
Import Customs Clearance – When goods reach the border of the importing country, they go through another customs clearance process. This customs clearance is an important part of the international shipments process because you must ensure that your goods comply with the customs policies of the country you are entering.
Import Haulage – After successfully clearing customs at the importing country’s border, your cargo is transferred from the border to its final destination.
1. Measure, weigh and pack correctly
Check dimensions for different order sizes. Dimensional weight may apply to your shipment and result in changes to shipping costs, so entering weight and dimensions can help ensure that the amount charged is accurate.
Best practice is to round weights to pounds or ounces.
Make sure fragile items are packed properly, as international shipments can be made by truck, plane and/or boat. Rugged long-distance travel through different climates can easily damage items. Therefore, the requirements for the packaging of goods are relatively strict.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires that any licensed export, and an export with a dollar value in excess of $2,500, be entered into the U.S. Census Automated Commerce Environment (ACE) prior to exporting the item or information.
While commercial freight forwarders typically handle this entry into ACE, export control officials can assist with hand-carried items or technical data electronically via email or transmission.
As for the origin, the cargo also needs to be processed at the destination before it can be released to the consignee. Simply put, destination handling involves transferring containers from a ship to ashore, from a port to a forwarder’s destination warehouse. It also includes unpacking and preparing the goods for pickup by the consignee.