If you are shipping internationally, your packages will always pass through customs. As a shipper, you want to ensure you declare what is being shipped so your package makes it to the recipient without any issues.
To make this process as easy as possible, Shippo will automatically create a Customs Declaration for orders with international addresses using the item information for the order!
Please check out our article on Carriers Supported by Shippo to see which Shippo-supported carriers you can use to ship internationally from your country.
What are Customs Declarations?
A Customs Declaration is the process of declaring the items you ship across international borders. Items shipped across international borders are generally subject to import/export taxes, customs duties, and fees.
When declaring items, it is critical that you are not vague in describing your item.
If the Custom Agency cannot determine what is in your package, they reserve the right to hold it for clarification, return the package, and/or discard the package.
Examples of vagueness include descriptions such as: "gift," "bottle," "box", and "supplies."
To ensure your package successfully makes its way through customs, please be descriptive as possible and do not leave your description open to interpretation.
Exceptions to Customs Declaration Requirements
Sometimes, the Customs Declaration is not required, and shippers can opt out of including one. It is the shipper's responsibility to include customs documentation when it is needed.
Two examples of exceptions are:
- Shipping between certain European Union countries
- Shipping from the United States to U.S. Territories with some carriers
- i.e., US > Puerto Rico, through USPS
What is a Commercial Invoice?
A Commercial Invoice is a physical document used to declare your items for customs purposes.
It is provided through Shippo in several ways:
- Included as part of the actual shipping label
- Included on a separate page(s) as part of the shipping label download
- Available to print by clicking Download Commercial Invoice on the Shipments Page.
- Sent electronically through a process called Paperless Trade, where a physical copy is not required
What are customs fees?
Customs agencies use the commodity, quantity, value, country of manufacture, and other factors to determine duties and taxes charges for international shipments.
Customs fees (duties and taxes) are not included in the Shippo rate and will be added on after the package has been sent by the customs agencies of the sending and receiving countries.
Custom fees have many dependent factors, to get an idea of how much your shipment's customs fees will amount to, check out this article!
Should I select DDU, DDP, or FCA?
The customs fees must be paid either by the sender or the recipient. This is determined by the incoterm that you select when you do your customs declaration.
Shippo supports three options:
- DDU (Delivery Duties Unpaid)
- DDP (Delivery Duties Paid)
- FCA (Free Carrier)
If you have an IOSS number, select DDU as the Incoterm to ensure the customs fees are billed properly.
DDU is the default option in Shippo and means that your customer, the recipient, will be
responsible for paying the customs charges before receiving the package. Since the
recipient will be responsible for these charges, we recommend you proactively inform
- The carrier will contact the customer for payment instructions once the charges are calculated and the package is ready for final delivery.
- If you collect your recipients’ email and/or phone number and input them into the
Shippo web app upon label purchase, UPS will contact the recipient via email or
text with a secure link to prepay customs fees before the package’s arrival to
avoid any missed deliveries. Please note this option is only available in select
- If a package arrives at the recipient's address without prepayment, UPS will require
recipient payment at the time of delivery via cash or money order only.
- If for any reason the recipient does not pay the assessed international brokerage
charges, the shipper will be responsible for the outstanding amount.
Choose DDP if you would like to pay all customs fees on behalf of your customer. This is common when sending a gift internationally.
- USPS does not enable DDP for their shipments. All USPS international shipments will be sent DDU.
- Customs charges will be calculated and charged to you, the sender, approximately three weeks after shipment. Charges will be billed through your carrier account or Shippo if a Shippo carrier account was used.
DHL Express and UPS charge an additional processing fee for DDP.
- UPS customs charges will be invoiced directly to the seller after the shipping
label is purchased.
Free Carrier (FCA) shipments are supported only by FedEx and DHL Express. With FCA, you deliver the goods, cleared for export, at a named place and the shipment can be delivered to a carrier nominated by the buyer. Your buyer must nominate a carrier.
this field would only be required if the item is shipped from the US to China, Russia, or Venezuela. If you are shipping to any other country, you do not need to have this number.
- ECCN is commonly described as a 5-digit code, but in practice, it can be up to 12. Format: #A###.a.##.a https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/documents/regulations-docs/2329-commerce-control-list-index-3/file.
Shipping to the European Union