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Your Guide to International Shipping From the USA in 2020



If you are in business this 2020, there is a good chance that you have your eye on international markets. If that is the case, read on for your essential guide to international shipping from the USA in 2020. 

1. Know the restrictions and limitations 

Before starting your international shipping from the USA, you need to ensure you are up-to-date on the restrictions and limitations that are in place in regards to the products you are considering exporting. Additionally, make sure you take the time to research your target market and potential end-customers, as these can also influence export licensing and restrictions.

Generally, you can determine whether a license is required, or a restriction is involved by considering three factors. The first consideration must be what you are exporting. You want to know whether anything you are planning to export has an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). 

Second, consider what the goods are used for. For instance, if the products have potential military uses, then they are most likely going to be subject to licensing or restrictions. 

Finally, you must take into consideration the intended destination of your shipment. At the moment, several nations are subject to US export embargoes and restrictions. When you fill out your commercial invoices and bills of lading, you will be required to list a destination control statement to verify that your goods will be diverted to any country other than the formally stated destination.

Most exporters find that the majority of their goods do not require an export license. Moreover, under many circumstances, products that have been assigned an ECCN can obtain an exemption. That being said, it would be best if you played by the rule book because there are severe penalties for those who don’t comply with export laws and regulations.

Your best option is to work with a top USA logistics provider as they will be up-to-date with export rules and regulations. Therefore, they will be in an excellent position to advise you about your goods and inform you which government agency you must contact concerning your licensing needs.

2. You must declare your exports 

No matter what you are shipping from the USA, it is required that you make export declarations to the US Customs and Border Protection Agency

Luckily, in 2020, this can be done much more efficiently than in the past, due to improvements in digital technology. When you ship something from the USA, you must file the Electronic Export Information (EEI) online. Frequently, the US freight forwarder acting on behalf of the shipper will submit this document. 

If your shipment is valued at $2,500 or more, or if your products are subjected to export licensing, then your freight company must file an EEI through the US government’s Automated Export System (AES). Furthermore, as the exporter, you will be responsible for providing additional information, including an identifier as to what goods you are shipping. This is done through a Schedule B number, and you can find it at the US Census Bureau.

3. Determine what type of shipping is right for you 

You can choose between ocean freight and airfreight. Here is an overview of both types of shipping. 

Ocean freight 

As the United States has many large ports on both coasts, ocean shipping is available to almost any overseas destination. That being said, the most common routes are from East Coast ports to European countries. Not surprisingly, these are also some of the fastest ways, as a container vessel can sail from New York to Bremerhaven (Germany) within ten days. A similar amount of times is required for a shipment traveling from Miami to Algeciras (Spain). 

On the other hand, some of the longest routes for ocean freight from the United States are from the US Gulf Coast to ports in China and Southeast Asia

A container ship traveling from Mobile (Alabama) to Shanghai (China) will be sailing for about 30 days, while Houston to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) takes 26 days, and Charleston to Sydney (Australia) takes approximately 27 days. 

Some of the most popular ocean freight trade lanes are Seattle (Washington) to Shanghai (China), Savannah (Georgia) to Antwerp (Belgium), Oakland (California) to Tokyo (Japan), Savannah (Georgia) to Felixstowe (United Kingdom), and Charleston (South Carolina) to Rotterdam (Netherlands). 


If your shipments need to reach their destination quickly or contain low volumes of high-value products, then you may want to consider sending your goods by airfreight. 

At the moment, the most popular airfreight routes from the US are Dallas (Texas) to Brussels (Belgium), New York (New York) to London (United Kingdom), Chicago (Illinois) to Frankfurt (Germany), Los Angeles (California) to Tokyo (Japan), and Los Angeles (California) to Seoul (South Korea). 

When it comes to transit times, the shortest airfreight routes depart from the US and go to the bordering nations of Canada and Mexico, and countries within Central America and the Caribbean. For example, a flight from Miami (Florida) to Bogota (Columbia) takes four hours, and Miami (Florida) to San Pedro Sula (Honduras) takes two hours. 

The longest airfreight routes are the ones that go to Asia. For instance, Chicago (Illinois) to Zhengzhou (China) will be flying for approximately 14 hours, while Cincinnati (Ohio) to Tokyo (Japan) takes 13 hours. Europe-bound flights are somewhere in the middle; Dallas (Texas) to Frankfurt (Germany) takes nine hours, and Chicago (Illinois) to Amsterdam (Netherlands) takes eight hours. 

4. Work with a qualified freight exporter 

When it comes to international shipping from the USA, the best thing you can do is choose to work with a qualified freight exporter that has a global presence. This means that you don’t have to juggle working with a US freight forwarder, customs brokers, and a foreign logistics company; instead, you can have all the processes streamlined into one simple platform. 

The best online freight exporter will be able to offer you a single online platform to obtain quotes, schedule your freight transportation, track your shipments, and pay the various parties involved in the international and domestic USA logistics processes.

Have you ever done international exporting? Are you thinking about doing it in 2020? 

Let us know your thoughts, comments, and any relevant experiences in the comments below!

Hafiz Umer Ali Zaib is the Social Media Specialist at Luxury Tours, a leading provider of tours, cruises and safaris across the UAE. The company’s top offerings include the Dubai Desert Evening Safari, City Tours, Dhow Cruises, Mountain Tours, Limousine Service, Discounted Tickets for theme parks and a variety of many other excursions.