As eCommerce develops, so does cross-border business. Nowadays, people in Jamaica can purchase a Macbook from the United States and people in US can buy latiao (Chinese popular snack food) from China. Well, what can I say? Who doesn’t like spicy sticks? Thanks to rapid development of international shipping, it makes all that more than just possible.

Cross-border trading has always been considered to be the high profits and high risks of business. Buyers are always willing to pay more for exotic merchandise but to fulfill its purpose, merchandise has to travel across land and sea. In this regard, international shipping can make or break your business. You play the games of international shipping. You thrive or wither. There is no another way. However, keep in mind a few things about international shipping and cross-border business will no longer be like rolling the dice.

Country Regulation

Ever heard the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? Before you decide to export to other countries, the first thing you need to do is find out what you can ship and can not. Like when you export to Brazil, Electronic Cigarettes are prohibited. Such information can be found on UPS Import/Export. After you get some general ideas, do consult the carrier you choose to ship with to get more details.


If you think traveling across land and sea doesn’t sound that risky, picture all that loading, unloading and language barrier. A small mistake in the process could end the journey of your merchandise or even the young business relationship you are trying so hard to maintain with your overseas customers. Although all three shipping carriers are extremely reliable, their general maximum liability is limited to $100 per shipment unless a higher value is declared. Why take the risk of total loss of profit and worry yourself sick when you can purchase insurance half the price at Circle.us and rest assured?

Transit Times

You make a deal with your customer. You have to meet the delivery time that both sides have agreed on. Transit times vary with each carrier. Certain elements like Customs Clearance or local holidays must be taken into consideration so you can decide which service you need to use, economy or priority. Incomplete customs documentation will delay your shipment so does local holiday season. Try to avoid both. Here you can find Holidays and Observances around the World.

AES Filing Requirements

When you plan to export merchandise valued over $2500 to other countries (Canada excluded), watch out for the U.S. Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) which require you to file your export information electronically through the Automated Export System (AES). The consequences of failing to file or filing incorrectly could be catastrophic, one of which could be seizure of your shipment by the U.S Customs and Boarder Protection. Every exporter knows well that whenever the CBP is involved, trouble follows.

Fortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau provides video walkthroughs on how to apply for an exporter account. With the complete guide to filing Electronic Export Information (EEI) and some training, filing won’t be a problem.

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is the customs document that you’ll use most often when shipping outside the U.S. Required for all non-document shipments, it is the primary form used for importation control, valuation and duty determination. To simplify your international shipping needs, some carriers provide paperless shipping solutions, like FedEx Electronic Trade Documents and UPS Paperless Invoice. If you choose not to use those, three signed copies — one original and two copies — are required. Place a copy inside your package, or in one package if shipping several.

Customs Clearance

FedEx or UPS services are brokerage inclusive (they already provide the brokerage) but if you have a special relationship or special need, they can hand the shipment over to the importer’s broker at the destination country. But always make sure that you have the delivery address correct and complete and more importantly, a valid phone number of the recipient. Because whether the carrier broker or the broker you appoint will need to contact the recipient for the documents required by Customs. Failing to submit the required documents within certain time frame could result in the returning of your shipment, which will be at your expense.

In a word, knowing what you can ship, having parcel insurance coverage and preparing the export documentation, international shipping is not a risk that you can’t afford to take.