International Shipping? Before You Ship by Sea, Learn More About Important Documents You will Need

Are you moving overseas or returning home after having lived outside of the country for a year or longer? If so, you may be interested in shipping household goods, personal items, or a vehicle to your final destination.  Before you ship by sea, learn more about some of the important paperwork that you may need to get in order.

When you ship by sea, you are typically required to have a variety of documents based on the country of origin and your final destination.  For example, if you are shipping a 20’ or 40’ container, you will likely need to a detailed packing list.  You may be required to provide the packing list in one or more languages.  For example, if you ship by sea to Norway, you should have a detailed inventory with one copy in English and another in Norwegian.

For many countries, simply listing “misc.” on a box is not enough detail for customs officials. Typically providing a more detailed packing list helps move your shipment through the customs process more swiftly.  For example, if you ship by sea to India and plan to pack appliances, you will need to provide information that indicates date purchased and itemized with brand, model, and serial numbers.

When you ship by sea, you may also be required to list the quantity and value of your items.  If you are required to provide a declared value inventory, you will need to list of all of the items that you want to insure, with the replacement value for every item.

In addition, as your boxes are packed for international shipment, it is helpful to place any items that may be of particular interest to customs officials in a spot that is easily reachable. For example, some countries have very strict rules about printed materials, electronic goods, or weapons of any type. If these items are allowed entry into the country where you are shipping, it is helpful if they are in a location that is readily available for officials during the customs inspection process.

In order to qualify for duty free shipments which are sometimes allowed on used household goods and used personal items, it is sometimes necessary to provide documentation that offers evidence of employment or residence in the country that you are shipping from and/or the country to which you are planning on moving.  You may also be required to provide a letter from your current or future employer, a contract of employment, renting contract, utility bill or letter explaining why you are returning to a particular country if you are a citizen who has been gone for a year or more. As noted above, depending on your location and final destination, the required documents when you ship by sea may vary.

Aside from customs forms that are often country specific, some of the documentation that is often required includes the following:

  1. Passport
  2. Visa (if applicable)
  3. Residency Card or Provisional Residency Card (if applicable)
  4. Bill of Lading or Airway Bill – which is issued by a carrier to a shipper to recognize the receipt of a shipment for delivery

If you are moving overseas or returning after having been away for an extended length of time, you may have to provide some tax related identification. For example, if you are moving to Europe and are already a European resident, you can use your European Community Card information for tax purposes.

Other countries and regions have their own rules. A dependable and qualified cargo shipping company like Cargo Experts will help you with all of the required paperwork when you ship by sea. For more information, contact Cargo Experts by email or call toll free at 866-994-7822.

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