Moving Checklist

·  How many items need to be shipped?

·  Do you require domestic or international shipping from a shipping company?

·  Do the items being shipped require insurance?

·  Do the shipping companies you’re considering track the items they are transporting?

·  Do the company’s you’re considering for international shipping have offices in the country you’re shipping to?

·  Is the item you’re shipping small, or will it require a delivery service of some kind?

·  What is the value of the product you need transported? Will there be additional taxes on the product if it is being sent internationally?

·  If your shipping is domestic, is there value for you in shipping by a less expedient method, in order to save money?

·  Is the shipping company that you are considering bonded and insured?
·  Does your shipment need a license to leave the US?


On-line application with the Simplified Network Application Process (SNAP) is fast and simple. If application submitted by mail, special care needed in completing form to avoid delays in processing. Use a reliable express-mail delivery service.


Export and production personnel must be in close contact. Problems in production will affect delivery schedule.


Send to buyer as soon as possible to confirm terms of sale and to enable buyer to apply for Letter of Credit (when required). Avoid errors. This will be most problematic when payment is by Letter of Credit.

OBTAIN COPY OF LETTER OF CREDIT (issued by buyer’s bankers, where applicable)

For payment by Letter of Credit (LC), be sure to obtain copy of same for verification in accordance with your terms of sale. When dealing with unscrupulous buyers, the smallest error in export documentation can result in non-payment under the terms of the LC.


Maintain an up-to-date shipping schedule (info obtained from shipping companies, shipping agents or your freight forwarder). This information, at your fingertips, is valuable for responding to buyers’ queries regarding shipment(s). Be sure to obtain a booking number or written confirmation of booking. Your goods can be left behind at the airport or port if you fail to make advance bookings for space and/or containers.


Inspection and Fumigation Certificates If requested by buyer, arrange for quality inspection of goods and/or fumigation by certified companies. Be sure to obtain number of copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Check documents for accuracy.Packing List

Prepare Packing List from information obtained from your packing team. Accuracy is paramount to avoid future claims from buyer.

Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)

This document is for US control only and is filed electronically using the Automated Export System (AES). Verify with your packing department that goods are packed and labeled according to buyer’s instructions. Goods not carefully packed may be damaged in shipment. Incorrect and/or incomplete labels can cause delays in clearing customs at home and abroad. Avoid penalties for late filing of SED, as determined by AES mode of transport.


Issued by a transport insurance company of your choice to cover movement of goods from your factory to destination. Some buyers take care of their insurance coverage, usually from delivery on-board to their premises. Be sure to obtain the number of copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Check for accuracy.

Cargo Receipt

Issued by inland transport company for your records.

Dock Receipt

Prepared by your freight forwarder for presentation at airport/port terminal. Signed copy received by inland carrier upon delivery of goods. Goods do sometimes get lost, stolen or damaged in transit. Don’t try to save on insurance costs. Verify that the booking number matches with the container number when loading more than one container for different buyers.


Commercial InvoicePrepare number of copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Remember to add Destination Control Statement for shipments under an export license plus the export license number.

Air Waybill

Issued by airline. Separate correct copies for buyer and for your records.

Ocean Bill of Lading

Issued by ocean carrier. Separate correct copies for buyer and for your records.

Certificate of Origin

Prepared in-house or by your freight forwarder, if requested by buyer. To be notarized and attested by your local Chamber of Commerce.

NAFTA Certificate of Origin

Only required for products, exported to Canada or Mexico, covered under the preferred tariff treatment. Prepared in-house or by your freight forwarder. To be signed and dated by you, the producer of the goods. An exporters’ software program or templates reduce time and error for in-house preparation of shipping documents. All documents, including those prepared by third parties, must be carefully checked for accuracy. A single error or missing information of extreme importance on a shipping document can cause delays and added expense in customs clearance at origin and destination. Faulty documents can also cause delays in receipt of payment.


Original documents to be presented to your bankers for remittance to buyer’s bankers in accordance with Letter of Credit or other payment terms. When original documents are mailed directly to buyer, address for remittance may not be the same as the buyer’s company address. An incorrect address may cause delay in clearance of goods at the port/airport.


An excellent customer-service practice. The shipping advice – sent by e-mail or fax to the buyer together with copies of invoice, packing list, and non-negotiable air waybill or bill of lading – is of vital importance to your client. With this information, your client can track the shipment and initiate the import process for speedy release on arrival of goods at port/airport.


If you maintain paper files, immediately file shipping documents for each shipment by buyer to avoid pile-up and/or misplacement of an important document, and for easy access for handling queries from buyers. Retain documents for five (5) years from shipping date for government inspection.


An excellent customer-service practice. Vessels do sometimes breakdown or divert course because of storms and leave your goods in another port. Be extra careful when there is transshipment. Your shipment can be left at the port of transshipment for a number of reasons.


An excellent customer-service practice. Request confirmation of receipt of goods from buyer.

It is absolutely essential that you have a control of your foreign payment due dates and accounts receivables. Depending on the shipment, who will receive it and in what country, and how they will use it, it may require a license from the Commerce Department
  • Determine the export classification
  • Determine whether an export license is required based on the classification
  • Identify the person and entity who will receive the item, and how they will use it
  • Determine whether the end user or end use will require an export license

How about clearing Customs in the destination country?

Countries control imports to protect their citizens, control internal affairs, and influence foreign affairs, your export from the US will be an import to the destination country. Animals, plants, pathogens, genetic material, drugs, radioactive materials, and electronic devices with encryption may be restricted
  • Plan to meet the destination country’s requirements
  • Make sure the shipping paperwork addresses the destination country’s requirements.

Packaging and labeling

Any shipment needs to be packaged for protection against damage in transport.  Some items will require special packaging to protect the contents (e.g., biological samples packaged with dry ice).  Other items will require special packaging and labeling to protect the transport system (e.g., hazardous materials).


Packages (up to 150 pounds) and freight (over 150 pounds) can be handled by the international networks of delivery services like FedEx Express International, FedEx Freight International, DHL or UPS.  There are some restrictions (for instance, some FedEx services will not handle carnets for temporary import).  If the shipment will need individual attention, a broker/forwarder may be necessary.
A freight forwarder/customs broker can assemble the right combination of carriers, clearances, and documentation for more complicated shipments.


Complete and accurate documentation helps a shipment leave the US legally and enter the destination country smoothly. This is even more important if the item is intended to be a temporary import that will return to the U.S.
A carrier or forwarder/broker can help with documentation, but remember that MIT as shipper of record (referred to as the “Principal Party in Interest”) is responsible for what the documentation says, that the carrrier or forwarder may not have the familiarity with the item you’re shipping to determine the correct export control classification or tariff code, and that errors can lead to delays, expense, or legal issues. It will be necessary to provide the shipment address, item descriptions (including export classification, tariff code, and value), the purpose of the shipment, export control authorization, and declaration control statement.


The shipment will be subject to duty and possibly tax (e.g., VAT) on entering the destination country. Some tariff codes have a 0% rate, and many countries allow duty-free importation for temporary imports.
  • Research and estimate duty and VAT if it’s a concern
  • For temporary exports, get a carnet, plan on posting a temporary import bond, or plan to drawback the import duty when the item is returned.
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