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Customs and Compliance

Frequently asked questions about import customs and compliance.

Help CenterShipment Essentials

Shipment Essentials

Frequently asked questions about shipping: freight modes, shipping terms, and general importing knowledge.

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What's the Relationship Between Vessel Fuel and Crude Oil?

Vessel fuel (also known as BAF - Bunker Adjustment Factor) is tied to the price of oil, set by Brent Crude Oil price, a major benchmark for worldwide oil prices. The Brent Crude Oil price has been going up since OPEC (Organization of...

Why Do Freight Costs Vary per Trade Lane?

The cost of shipping 100 cbm of a product from Shenzhen to Los Angeles will likely not cost the same amount as shipping the same 100 cbm of product from Shenzhen to Rotterdam. Reasons for this cost differentiation include: Supply and...

How Long Does It Take to Pick up a Container from Port?

Shipments will not be ready for pickup the same day the ocean vessel arrives at port. Just unloading the ocean vessel can take 1-3 business days, because many ships have more than 10,000 containers on board. An FCL (Full Container...

Why Should You Ship Under FCA Incoterms?

If you are a buyer purchasing goods from a foreign manufacturer and shipping them internationally, FCA (Free Carrier) will likely be the most appropriate incoterm for your shipment. Commonly used incoterms (per Incoterms 2010) for...

Should I Ship via Freight or Parcel?

Flexport defines freight as any shipment greater than 100 kg in total weight. Anything less than that is better served shipping via a common express carrier like UPS or FedEx. If your shipment is greater than 100 kg, then you’ll need to...

How to Load a Container

Properly loading a container will help protect your goods from damage during transit. The goods need to be protected from sliding around during the unsteady ocean leg, and from rattling and banging if the container is traveling via rail. ...

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate: What You Need to Know

Starting December 18, 2017, all drivers must begin logging their hours in electronic logging devices (ELDs) rather than in paper books. This will mean stricter enforcement of federal hours-of-service rules, which will improve driver labor...

What Markings Should My Cartons Have?

Flexport recommends having your supplier mark cartons with the following information: Company Name: (your company’s name) Product SKU: (your product SKU) Country of Origin: (e.g. China) Gross Weight: (weight of the carton, including...

Why Does a U.S. Business Need to Act as Ultimate Consignee for a Foreign Importer?

The ultimate consignee (the final recipient of the shipment) of U.S. imports must have a U.S. address and tax ID number, per Customs Directive 3550-079A. If you have an EIN but your business is registered in a country other than the...

How Do I Estimate How Many Cartons Will Fit on a Pallet?

You can estimate how many cartons will fit on a pallet by dividing the CBM (cubic meters) of the shipment by 1.5. This is a rough estimate that may help you estimate storage charges or give you an idea of how many pallets you will be...

Should I Palletize My Cargo?

Palletization is the act of shrink-wrapping loose cargo on top of pallets to increase the ease of handling, speed of loading, and protection of the cargo during the transportation process. Fragile cargo should be palletized to protect it...

Why Are Dimensions Needed to Quote Air Shipments?

Dimensions must be provided when submitting a quote request for an air shipment in order to receive accurate quoted rates. Dimensions (dims) include: Measurements of the cargo (length by width by height) Weight of the cargo Count...

Who Do I Tell My Supplier is the Consignee on the Bill of Lading?

Your supplier will need the legal business name and legal business address of the consignee. Example: Business, Inc 1000 Professional Ave Muncie, IN 47302 What is a consignee? The consignee is the party to whom ownership of the goods...

Tips for Shipping During Peak Season

In the second half of the year, businesses begin preparing for the winter holidays -- import volumes rise sharply, and so do ocean and air rates. Peak season, as it’s called, is known for high, volatile rates, rolled cargo, trucking...

8 Common Types of Bills of Lading by Transportation Mode

Are you shipping your goods by sea, air, truck, or rail? The terms and types of bills of lading differ with the mode of transportation. Ocean Transportation When goods are transported by ship, an ocean bill of lading is issued. Ocean...

What Is the Purpose of a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading, often abbreviated as B/L, is the ticket outlining the journey of your cargo from origin to its destination. Much like an airline issuing a ticket to a passenger, a B/L is issued by a carrier to a shipper detailing...

Five Factors to Consider When Looking For a Fulfillment Center

Fulfillment centers are warehouses that help companies store, package, and ship their products out to their end customers.  They essentially shoulder the burden of mass shipping for businesses that receive an influx of demand and need to...

Frequently Asked Questions About Pallets

What Types of Pallets Are There? What Are the Standard Pallet Sizes? Can I Use Wood Pallets? What Are Amazon's Palletization Requirements? How Do I Estimate How Many Cartons Will Fit on a Pallet?

The Basics of Quality Control (QC)

The Basics of Quality Control (QC) If you are planning on having a new product manufactured overseas, you may be concerned about whether your product looks the way you envisioned and does what you want it to.  Quality control inspections...

Can I Use My Own Cargo Insurance for Flexport Shipments?

If you already have cargo insurance and wish to use it for Flexport shipments, no problem! Let your Flexport team know, and they will send you the appropriate paperwork. Other questions about insurance: Why do I need cargo insurance?...

Tips for Packaging and Damage Prevention

Packaging your goods securely is vital to avoid any financial loss that could result from potential damages that your shipment might incur as it gets transported from one place to another. Several claims are denied by insurance...

How Much Cargo Fits In a Container?

This table shows the general container capacity guidelines -- how much cbm fits into each container, as well as dimensions and door height: It's important to note that the capacity will be determined by the size of the cartons, how...

What are Ocean Alliances?

Ocean alliances are groups of carriers who have agreed to pool their fleet of vessels to extend their service offerings and geographic coverage. Three ocean alliances exist as of May 2018: Alliances are pragmatic arrangements, so...

What Is a Switch Bill of Lading?

Triangle trades are a very common occurrence in global trade. Importers who purchase goods from overseas might not necessarily be purchasing the goods from the factory itself, but rather from a middleman or trader who might be located...

How Should I Prepare for Chinese New Year (CNY)?

When is Chinese New Year 2019? Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the biggest Chinese celebration of the year. In 2019, Chinese New Year (CNY) will take place February 3-9. What will Chinese New...

How Long Will It Take My Shipment to Arrive At the Final Destination?

See below for a breakdown of the shipment timeline per freight method: Your quote includes the main transit times of your shipment, like the transit time over the ocean or in the air: Once you book a shipment, the transit...

Blank Commercial Invoice Template

In order to clear your shipment quickly and efficiently, our customs team needs a complete and accurate commercial invoice. Click here to see an example of a commercial invoice that includes all of the required elements. We have also...

Why Do I Need Cargo Insurance?

Fifty percent of freight claims are denied by carriers. If something happens to your goods while in transit, it’s highly unlikely that the carrier will be held accountable for much, if any, of the value of the goods. The journey is long...

A Quick Guide to Incoterms

Incoterms are terms of sale that define who arranges for the payment and handling of the goods during shipping, from the moment the goods leave the seller’s (the manufacturer’s) door up until their arrival at the buyer’s (your) final...

Commercial Invoice and Packing List: What You Need to Know

Flexport will need a digital copy of your shipment’s Commercial Invoice and Packing List to clear your shipment through U.S. Customs. What is a Commercial Invoice? A commercial invoice is a document used for customs declaration that...

What is Chargeable Weight?

The carrying capacity of every aircraft, truck, and ship is ultimately limited by space or weight. If you load a vessel with heavy cargo, you may hit its weight limit before filling all available space. If you load a vessel with light...