A 5 Step Guide to International Shipping Process

With time, the international shipping process has been gaining pace at an increasing rate. The distance between people and countries has been reduced to only some days through international shipping or import and export of goods and services. The fastest way to send the parcel is through the air and it has been one of the preferred means for the people.

Though international shipping seems easy, when it comes to small or medium-sized businesses, the realisation of the paperwork, documents, and all the process that takes place strikes in an instant. The international shipping process might be more on the expensive side, but for small and medium-scale businessesit is crucial to have access to international shipping to grow and increase revenue. After understanding the rules and regulations, and the required paperwork, the process becomes a little easier as compared to the first time.

Before shipping internationally, it is important to understand the steps. So, here is a 5 step guide to the International Shipping Process. 

Step 1- What and Where?

Knowing what exactly you are shipping is of prime importance for international shipping. There are custom forms that need to be filled for the non-document shipments across the border and the item should be clearly and completely declared. 

Now, wondering why this step is so important? To be precise, being clear about the shipments allows the customs officials to classify the shipments, making the process of shipping easier and faster. Furthermore, appropriate information about the units or the quantity of the products is equally essential. Also, sometimes the details of the manufacturer may be different from the shipping place, so proper information about the same is also required.

Moving on to the next question, the importance of knowing ‘Where to ship?’. Some countries are easier to ship to while others have specific rules and regulations that make the process taxing. Countries like Canada and Mexico, receive the maximum amount of shipments due to the ease in the documents and getting into the market. Gather complete information about the rules and regulations of importing and exporting products of various or targeted countries, to avoid any sort of confusion or interference.

Step 2- Finding a courier

It is one of the crucial steps required in international shipping - to find a courier. Finding an efficient and cost-effective courier service would need some research, especially for small and medium-scale businesses. Large business houses like Amazon have started their own courier services to ensure that the product reaches in proper condition and on time. The steps for finding a courier service are:

Requesting the service providers for a freight quote, in easier terms how much the shipping would cost. The pricing also depends on the date of shipping, origin and the destination, as well as the details about the product and its quantity. The freight forwarders make this task easier by providing the best possible prices for the shipment.

After going through the prices, the next aspect involves selecting the appropriate freight forwarder. This step takes place after comparisons in the rates of forwarders or carrier organisations, the route of the shipments, and the delivery.

Then, after the finalisation of the service provider, it is time to prepare for the documentation. Documents like commercial invoice, the origin of the shipment, and bill of lading are required. Here, the freight forwarder makes the process smoother by assisting in the documents and completing the forms.

Finally, the booking of the shipment slot and confirmation of details takes place. The tracking and delivery of the shipment are the two final steps of this process.

Step 3- Documentation and Taxes

No matter how easy the international shipping process may seem, there are still steps that cannot be skipped in any way. Complete documents are demanded for the shipping to take place. There are certain documents that are essential, including:

Performa Invoice- It provides information about the transaction between the buyer and the seller, and also provides a detailed description of the goods that are being shipped, the price of the shipment, and other such information. Performa invoice gives a total insight into the product, the origin, and the prices.

Commercial Invoice- Similar to Performa Invoice, the commercial invoice provides entire information about the export transactions. It is considered one of the most important documents.

Packing list and certificate of origin- The packing list provides information about the weight of the product and other things like its size and quantity. This can be effectively used to fill the bill of lading as well. The Certificate of Origin clarifies where the goods have originated from, so that in case of any discrepancy, tracking the original source becomes seamless.

Bill of Lading- It is a document for the carrier services or the freight forwarders that states information about the destination of the shipment.

Step 4- Customs Clearance

When it comes to customs, every country has its own set of rules and regulations. The customs are cleared without any hassle if the documents are complete and authentic. Moreover, the freight forwarders or carrier services also assist in customs clearance. The customs official goes through the paperwork provided by the seller and the assessment of import duties and taxes take place, depending on the type of goods and their value. In some cases, taxes are applicable for clearance of customs and once all the duties and taxes are paid, the customs are cleared and the shipment is delivered to its desired destination.

Step 5- Tracking Shipment Activities

The final step of the shipment is its delivery. Once the shipment is delivered in proper condition, both parties consider the shipping process as a success. With the advancement of technology, tracking or shipments have comparatively become easier. Continuous updates and notifications are provided to the seller as well as the customer to increase transparency. Moreover, the seller also gets information about the route and time consumed during the shipment.

Each step is essential in the international shipping process. Effective warehouse management to deliver on time requires these steps to be followed chronologically. Air is considered the fastest mode of transport, with easy and swift international shipping. 

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