When exporting and importing, shipping documents can be numerous and may include: an airway bill, a bill of lading, or a truck bill of lading; a commercial invoice; a certificate of origin; an insurance certificate; a packing list; or other documents required to clear customs.
It is your responsibility to fill-out those documents with the proper and correct information. For more guidance about Common Export documents, you may consult the export.gov website.
Generally, the item value appears on its commercial invoice. If there is no commercial invoice for the item, the Fair Market Value will apply. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have published a Customs Valuation Encyclopedia to help the trade community in determining commodities values.
This list of shipping documents is non-exhaustive as requirements vary widely based on specifics of the items being sent and the destination. For more information about shipments, consult Pitt Mail Services. Please note that while the Office of Trade Compliance (OTC) provides assistance for evaluating and/or filing export authorizations and related documents, the OTC is NOT in charge of managing actual shipments, including shipping and customs documentation.
Electronic Export Information via the Automated Export System
In most cases, a filing of the Electronic Export Information (EEI) via the Automated Export System (AES) is required for all shipments from the U.S. More specifically, you must complete the EEI form online when the shipment:
- includes a defense article controlled under the ITAR; or,
- includes a dual-use or commercial items:
- destined to a Country Group E1 (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria); or,
- exported under a BIS license or license exception; or,
- enumerated in paragraph a. through x. of a "600 series"; or,
- whose value classified under a single Schedule B Number (or Harmonized Tariff Schedule number) is over $2,500.
All EEI information must be filed prior to export. The lead-time varies depending on the method of transportation of the export. Although certain carriers will automatically file AES for you via their shipping software, it is your responsibility to make sure that this requirement has been completed.
This electronic document is used for purposes of foreign trade statistics and export compliance. Data on the EEI records goes to the Census Bureau, the Department of Commerce-BIS or the Department of State-DDTC, and to Customs.
Note: When filing the EEI, you will be requested to give the Schedule B number of the products that you are exporting. In some cases, pursuant to FTSR 30.6(a)(12), the 10 digit commodity classification number provided in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) may be reported in lieu of Schedule B Commodity Classification Number, except as noted in the headnotes of the HTS.
"Destination Control Statement" vs. "No Diversion Clause"
The Destination Control Statement (DCS - EAR part 758.6) is generally required for all exports from the United States of all items on the Commerce Control List not classified as EAR99. It is a warning that the items are subject to the US controls: "These commodities, technology or software were exported from the United States in accordance with the Export Administration Regulations. Diversion contrary to U.S law is prohibited." It goes on all copies of commercial invoice and bill of lading or airway bill.
The "No Diversion Clause" (ITAR 123.9 (b)) is required for ITAR hardware exports. It must be included on all copies of the invoice or purchase documentation, and on the airway bill, bill of lading, or other shipping document whenever defense articles are to be exported, retransferred, or reexported pursuant to a license or other approval. This ITAR clause is different from the DCS. The "No diversion Clause" informs on the ultimate country of destination and the end-user, and forbid reexport/retransfer without approval of the Department of State.
Carnet or Merchandise Passport for Temporary export
Before exporting any item to a foreign country, it is strongly advised that you become familiar with the tax requirements of the destination country. For shipments from the U.S. to most countries (including E.U, Canada, Mexico), the Value Added Tax (VAT) applies. The VAT is a tax on consumer spending for goods and services. In European countries, the VAT varies from 15 to 25%.
To prevent VAT and import duty from being collected on temporary exports, the University of Pittsburgh recommends use of a ATA Carnet
, also known as a Merchandise Passport
. This carnet is an international customs document that expedites temporary exports into foreign countries and can be used only when the item is being returned to the U.S within a year. It is accepted by most countries
, and has the advantage to both exempt items from VAT and to simplify reentry into the U.S. by serving as a U.S. Customs Registration.