Export Declaration

Informing customs when exports are indirect

It’s mandatory to make an electronic declaration to customs authorities when goods from one member state are exported out of the European Union via another member state.

The notification is made via the European Union’s Export Control System (ECS) in order to track goods being exported out of the EU. Goods are allocated a Movement Reference Number (MRN), which gets incorporated into a printed Export Accompanying Document (EAD) which accompanies the consignment as it moves through the EU. The function of the EAD is to show customs officials that an export declaration has been lodged and the shipment has been released for export.

UPS makes the electronic declaration on your behalf and it’s included as part of free brokerage service in the UK.

The pre-alert template should be used if the shippers freight would require a licence or cities or transits going into EU countries, controlled CPC’s etc.—basically ‘special handling’.

Pre Alert Form

Shipping Costs

Choose a solution that meets your cost and speed requirements

Combine the economies of ocean freight and the speed you need to compete globally.

Once you’ve negotiated Incoterms with your customer, you’ll have determined the place where you’ll hand over your products. The next decision you’ll need to make is the method of carriage to get your products there.

The amount of goods you are sending will determine whether the goods are sent as a package or by freight. There are three factors to consider when deciding on the best method of getting your products delivered: cost, speed and environmental impact.

  1. Cost
    Packages: The cost of package delivery drops the longer it takes to deliver it. If it’s not urgent to get a package delivered next-day, then you’ll find there are many other economical options available with a day definite delivery commitment. Consolidating items into one package rather than multiple packages could also save on costs. However, you do need to be aware of the dimensional weight of your package. Often packages are charged either by weight or by size – or the great of the two.Freight: Ocean freight, unsurprisingly, is almost always cheaper than air freight for large amounts of goods. But as shipments get smaller, the difference between the price of air and ocean freight becomes smaller too and sometimes flying will even end up being less expensive.
  2. Speed
    Packages: UPS is able to get packages delivered fast. Various modes of transport could be used to make one delivery, but they’ll typically be air and road. Slower intra-continental deliveries might also include rail. The bottom line is that speed can be scaled up or down depending on your needs, but generally by using UPS you’ll often find that even the more economical services offer a faster than expected delivery thanks to UPS’s comprehensive network.Freight: There’s no doubt that flying is much faster than sea travel. Ocean freight can take up to a month to reach its destination while air freight seldom takes more than a few days. If your products perish quickly, air freight might be the only way to get your goods delivered on time.
  3. Environmental Impact
    Packages: Although you’re not able to choose the mode of transport when sending packages you can often equate slower services to mean transportation by rail or road rather than by air. UPS is constantly optimising and looking for efficiencies meaning that your shipment will automatically take the optimum route, or be consolidated with other packages destined for the same place, meaning savings are made to the level of impact to the environment.Freight: With consumers becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, the service you select and ultimately the modality your package is shipped by is an important consideration. This can tip the scales in favour of ocean freight if you’re environmentally conscious and your goods are not required for delivery within a tight time window. Optimisation and efficiency cannot completely eliminate carbon emissions from the supply chain of course, which is why UPS also offers you the chance to participate in the UPS Carbon Neutral shipping programme for just a nominal fee. This allows you to balance out the emissions produced by transportation with an investment in various environmental projects and it’s an option you can easily select each time you create a shipping label with UPS.

 

Duties and Excise

Find out how governments calculate taxes on goods crossing borders

Tap into the expertise of one of the world’s largest customs brokers.

It’s important to know what the duties are when your products cross foreign borders as these additional costs affect the final price of what you’re selling. Knowing the cost will help you price your products competitively.

There are two types of duties that are typically levied by governments around the world on goods entering the country.

  • Customs duty
    In an economic sense, customs duty is a kind of consumption tax levied when goods cross the border into the importing country. Whether you or your client pays for the costs will be determined by Incoterms and will have been predefined with your shipping provider as they will often handle this transaction on your behalf.
  • Excise duty
    Excise duty is an inland tax and is different to customs duty, which is a border tax. This means that excise is levied on all goods in special categories, whether they’re manufactured onshore or imported. Tobacco and alcohol are products that usually attract excise duties.

ShippingCost_DutiesandExciseAs part of some trade agreements, including the European Union, excise duty is paid by the seller in the country of dispatch and can be refunded if the goods are exported to another EU country.

Duties are sometimes called tariffs and the words are used interchangeably, but they refer to the same thing. The way in which governments determine what they’ll charge is based on three things.

 

  1. What the goods are
    There’s a standardised classification that’s used internationally called the Harmonised System (HS), which describes all products by name and number. Different charges are levied against different products based on this classification system.
  2. The value of the goods
    The value of the goods is the base for the calculations of customs duty. If a sale is the reason for shipping the transaction value is taken as the base for calculation of the duty amount. If the goods have no transaction value because they were sent as samples or free of charge the value for the calculation of duty are calculated with a set of rules. The rules were defined by the World Customs Organisation (WTO) and can be found in the customs regulations of most countries.

    Beside of the value of the goods certain other charges have to be added to get to the so called Customs Value. The most important charge is the freight charge which has to be added to the value of the goods to calculate the customs value. Other important charges are the insurance costs and costs for services which applied on the production or transportation of the goods.

  3. The weight of the goods
    A few countries calculate the duty amount based on the weight of the goods and the duty rate attached to each HS tariff code. In some countries, including Switzerland, excise is charged on the quantity of goods being exported. For example, excise of one cent is levied on every cigarette and one cent on each litre of alcohol.

Duties vary from country to country and can be high or low, depending on whether the country is attempting to encourage imports from certain trading partners. Lower duties usually follow trade agreements signed by countries wishing to promote trade between themselves.

Duties increase the price of your products and so it’s important to know what they are when you estimate the eventual cost consumers will pay for your products. Buyers sometimes ask how much the total cost of goods will be and it’s therefore necessary to know in advance what the customs and excise duties are.

It is typical for the buyer to pay duties. If UPS delivers goods to the buyer, we can automatically bill the buyer’s account for the duties. The buyer is able to pay these costs in advance of the delivery or settle at the point of receiving the goods.

The Harmonised System

Discover your product's unique classification code for international trade

The World Customs Organisation, an independent intergovernmental body based in Brussels whose mission is to improve the administration of customs, unveiled a system of tariff nomenclature (see glossary) in 1988 that’s used all over the world today to identify traded products.

The Harmonised System (HS) of tariff nomenclature allocates six-digit numerical codes to all products, depending on the product’s form and function. An example of the former is a narcissi bulb while a vacuum cleaner is an example of the latter. Countries are obliged to base their tariff schedules on the HS nomenclature, but they are able to set their own rates of duty.

The HS is divided into 21 broad headings with 98 chapters or groupings of products, each accompanied with general rules of interpretation and explanatory notes. The system begins by categorising crude and natural products and becomes increasingly complex as products undergo processing.

The first six digits of the HS are used universally. Each country may then add to the original six to suit its own tariff and statistical needs, creating eight, 10, and sometimes 12 digit national codes.

It’s important to select the right tariff code for your products. Improper classification can lead to products being seized at customs. Governments generally apply some form of monetary penalty for classification errors based on whether they think there was negligence, gross negligence or fraud.

VAT

Ascertain when goods being exported can get a VAT zero rating

VAT is a tax levied on goods and services consumed in the European Community (EC) and, if you are VAT registered and exporting your goods to the USA, you can zero-rate the VAT charged on the goods. This means the goods are still subject to VAT but you invoice VAT at 0%. To comply with the law, however, you have to get and keep evidence of the export.

There are two exporting scenarios where zero-rating of VAT is permissible.

  1. Direct exports
    When you arrange the transport of your goods to your customer in the USA, this is regarded as a direct export regardless of the method of transportation used: by ocean or air freight or by post or courier service.
  1. Indirect export
    If you’ve chosen the Incoterm ex-works and your customer collects the goods from you, it’s still possible to zero-rate the VAT if the customer takes the goods to the USA within three months of the day the goods were collected or the day you received full payment (if earlier).

Official documentation, such as a Bill of Lading, is usually the best way of proving the goods were exported. These are usually given to you by the company that transports the goods to the USA. The documents will need to be originals or authenticated as photocopy certificates of shipment are not normally acceptable as evidence of export.

If you send goods to the USA temporarily for a trade show or if goods are returned, then no sale has taken place and you don’t have to pay VAT when the goods are returned.

Insurance

Determine whether you need extra protection against loss or damage

Insurance provides peace of mind when your goods are in transit, at any point in the supply chain.

There are two Incoterms that clearly place responsibility on you to take out insurance for the goods you’re exporting.

  • Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF)
    Under these terms, you need to pay for ocean freight cargo insurance and all transportation charges up to a named port.
  • Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP)
    This is similar to CIF, but applies to all forms of transportation to a named inland destination.

Other Incoterms do not place the obligation to provide insurance on you or your buyer. However, depending on the actual term used for each shipment, you or the buyer will bear responsibility for delay, loss or damage to the goods at some point during transit.

To protect yourself from financial risk, it’s important to ensure that the goods you’re sending are adequately insured. While it may seem easiest to transfer insurance liabilities to your buyer, it could potentially be risky if the goods arrive damaged when the buyer has not yet paid for them.

When entering into an agreement with an insurer, it’s important to familiarise yourself with some basic insurance principles.

  • Duty of utmost good faith
    You need to supply all relevant information about your products and the journey at the outset so that the appropriate premium can be calculated by the insurer. Read the contract carefully as the insurer needs to clearly state any exclusion clauses whereby you won’t receive compensation.
  • Duty to act as though uninsured
    Having insurance in place doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care that your goods are adequately protected. When packing parcels, make sure their contents are safe and secure in packaging fit for purpose. Similarly, insurers will only be willing to cover risk and not certain disaster from packing pallets badly.

It’s possible to ensure goods for a slew of risks, including loss, damage, terrorism, piracy, wars, strikes and unforeseen acts of nature, but the premium will increase in tandem with the number of risks covered. Some insurance policies include either excess, an amount deducted from a claim, or franchise, where no payment is made if the claim is lower than a predetermined percentage of the total value of the goods.

If you’re sending export orders regularly, then open cover might suit you. This sort of insurance policy covers an unlimited number of shipments within an agreed timeframe or up to a certain value until either party cancels the agreement. You pay an annual premium based on an initial deposit and make a final adjustment according to the actual turnover value of goods you export.

Licences

Identify if you need permission to send goods abroad

Tap into the expertise of one of the world’s largest customs brokers to find out if your product needs a licence.

Almost all countries have some form of export control in order to regulate the proliferation of weapons, guard against the spread of disease and protect national treasures.

Regulations vary from country to country, but most have some controls on four categories of goods leaving or entering their territories. If you’re planning on exporting one of these categories, then it’s probable that you’ll need to get an export licence and your customers are likely to need an import licence too.

  • Weapons and instruments of torture
    Any firearm, component, technology or software that could have a military application or could be used for torture.
  • Live animals, plants and processed foods
    Agricultural or food products are controlled in order to prevent the transfer of diseases. Live animals also usually need to have a veterinary health check before being transported.
  • Chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical products
    These products usually have stringent controls, particularly if they can be used militarily. Medicines usually also include veterinary medicines.
  • Energy resources, artworks and precious stones
    Crude oil, gas, rough diamonds and some antiques and artworks usually need licences to move across borders in order to prevent illicit sales.

LicensesIf your customers are in a country against which trade embargoes or sanctions have been imposed, you’ll probably also need to get a licence before sending anything.

UPS prohibits shipments of certain items – such as furs and ivory – to all countries. Some of the items, however, can be shipped on a special contractual basis with compliance to volume, regulatory and other conditions.

Weapons licences in the United Kingdom are issued by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skill. Live animals, plants and processed foods get a Common Agricultural Policy licence from the Rural Payments Agency and export health certificates are issued by the Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs.

The Arts Council issues licences for the export of certain cultural objects more than 50 years of age and valued above specified financial thresholds, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. The Government Diamond Office issues Kimberley Certificates, which control rough diamond exports.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the National Drug Control System issue different types of export certificates for pharmaceutical products and chemical constituents. Dangerous chemicals will also need a licence from the Health & Safety Executive.

Prohibited and Restricted Articles

Establish which products require a contractual agreement for shipment

Certain items such as furs, ivory are prohibited for international trade to all countries. In other cases, there may be restrictions to quantities or how they are transported across borders, meaning you may need to agree transport on a contractual bases.

UPS, along with other major carriers, must abide by local regulations when carrying restricted, sensitive or hazardous goods therefore it is important that you open up a discussion and agree the terms of carriage specific to your product.

The following articles are prohibited from shipment to all countries served by UPS (except by specific contract):

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Animal skins (non-domesticated)
  • Articles of exceptional value (e.g. works of art, antiques, precious stones, gold and silver)
  • Dangerous goods/Hazardous materials (following IATA and ADR regulations)
  • Firearms
  • Furs
  • Ivory and ivory products
  • Jewellery and watches (other than costume jewellery and costume watches) exceeding USD 500 or local currency equivalent per package¹
  • Live animals
  • Money, negotiable items and pre-paid cards
  • Perishable good
  • Personal effects (except to selected countries when shipped with participating Mail Boxes Etc. centres)
  • Plants
  • Pornographic materials
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Unaccompanied baggage (except to selected countries when shipped with participating Mail Boxes Etc. centres)

Also prohibited are: goods moving under ATA Carnet and all temporary exports and imports; goods moving under FCR, FCT and CAD (Cash Against Document); shipments with inherent vice, which by their nature are likely to soil, impair or damage persons, merchandise or equipment; goods, the carriage of which is prohibited by law in the country of origin, transit or destination (e.g. ivory and ivory products), goods which attract excise duty (e.g. spirits) or which require special facilities, safety precautions or permits. Under applicable law, certain goods may be transported only under prescribed conditions and certain goods are prohibited from transportation by air (e.g. liquids in glass containers).

Goods in Free Circulation

Leverage favourable trading conditions between EU member states

Countries in the European Union (EU) are united in a single market, which guarantees the free movement of goods, capital, services and people. The single market is intended to boost economic activity through the efficient allocation of resources resulting from the removal of trade barriers.

The EU is also a customs union, which means there are no customs barriers between member states. The union removes any bureaucratic or financial hindrances that might impede free movement of goods. This is meant to assure equal conditions of competition between all businesses in all member states.

Goods are in “free circulation” if they originate in the EU or have been imported into the EU and all import formalities have been complied with and any duties and excise have been paid and not refunded. Sales to international organisations, which are treated as exports, and exports to special EU territories are exceptions.

Goods are “dispatched” when they leave the state of origin and are “arrivals” when entering the member state acquiring them. The use of these terms distinguishes single market trade from trade with countries outside the EU, where the terms “import” and “export” apply.

Export Cargo Shipping Instruction

Communicate exactly what is being exported and how

The Export Cargo Shipping Instruction (ECSI) is a formal way of communicating with your carrier if you have a large export order. It sets out the products you wish to export and where they’re meant to go.

ExportCargoShippingInstructionsYou’re not required to use an ECSI, but it’s good exporting practice and it’s a helpful checklist at the planning stage. It also provides a record of your instructions on how your goods should be handled and gives everyone involved complete and accurate information, which can save time and money and avoid disputes.

There’s no set template for an ECSI, but it should contain the following information about the goods you’re about to export.

  • The nature of the goods
    Describe the goods you’re shipping, using the Harmonised System (HS) commodity code. Include all details about the goods being shipped, such as their weight, size, value and country of origin. Note any special characteristics the goods might have and if they need special handling. It might, for example, be an artwork that needs to be handled in a specific way.
  • The route to their destination
    Be clear about where the goods need to be collected and where they need to be delivered. Include the post code and country in the delivery address. Add the company and tax registration numbers of your customer, if you have them. Provide the name and contact details of the person who will accept the delivery and give the date when the goods need to be delivered by.
  • The transport requirements
    You should provide the Incoterms of the delivery and be clear about the transport you will require. This may include road transportation to the closest airport, then air freight to a specific city, and then road freight to the delivery address.
  • Customs information
    Customs will require the HS code for the goods, the country of origin and the delivery address. If the goods will be used in a country other than the one where they’re delivered, customs will need to know this too. If you don’t want your carrier to clear the goods at customs, you should be clear about who will be responsible.
  • Who should receive specified documents
    If certain documents need to be handed to your customer or to a bank at certain points during transportation, you should be explicit about what the documents are and when and how handover should happen. You should provide the name and contact details of the person who will take receipt of the documents. Make a note of any special documentation, such as pallet fumigation certificates, that need to be transported with the goods.
  • An allocation of costs
    You will need to be clear about who will be billed for duties and taxes, particularly if you’re not accepting those costs.

The Commercial Invoice

Learn how to master this key export document first time

The commercial invoice is the most commonly used document when exporting, but different versions of the same document are used at different times during the export process.

Pro forma invoices are often created for use as a quotation. They’re exactly the same format as the commercial invoice except they don’t have an invoice number and should not form part of accounting records or be used for tax purposes. The words pro forma invoice will appear on the document instead of invoice or commercial invoice.

For example, a foreign customer might wish to know how much it will cost to receive an order from you. You would prepare a pro forma Invoice to get shipping, customs clearance and insurance quotes. Before you even start manufacturing the goods, you’d send the pro forma Invoice to your customer as a ‘pre-advice’ or indication of what will stand in the commercial invoice when the order is ready for shipment.

The pro forma invoice serves as a negotiating instrument. The initial pro forma invoice often sets the stage for the first round of negotiations if you and an importer have not yet had any real discussions.

Pro forma invoices are also used to send samples to trade shows abroad. There will be no payment required for sending samples and so the pro forma invoice is used as a substitute for the commercial invoice.

The commercial invoice is a record of evidence of the transaction between you and your customer. It is also the document that’s used for customs and so it’s advisable to include four copies with your goods, one for your client, which you can include within a package, and three to hand the to the carrier to use for customs clearance. An additional copy can be kept for your records. It is common practice to provide a commercial invoice in English so that it’s most universally understood.

 

Packing List

Create an inventory of what your are sending to include with your shipment

The packing list, which details the specific contents of each package in a large shipment, is an optional document you may choose to include with the goods you’re exporting. It is similar to, but does not replace, the commercial invoice, which is used by customs to assess duties and fees.

Because the Packing List does not include information about the cost or value of the contents, it can be used in cases where the contents will be accepted by a customer before immediately being forwarded to a third party. It’s also a good safeguard against shipping incorrect cargo.

The packing list should contain the following information:

  • The name of your company and your company’s contact details, including physical address, telephone number and email address.
  • The name of your customer and their contact details.
  • The weight of the product without packaging and the weight of the products including packaging.
  • The nature, quality and specifications of the product being shipped as well as the type of packaging used, whether it’s boxes, pallets or drums. Include the packaging dimensions.
  • The number of packages, crates or boxes and the number stacked on each pallet or container. Include pallet or package markings, if any, as well as any order reference numbers that might be on the commercial invoice.

Place the packing list into a waterproof envelope and attach it to the outside of a package or one of the pallets going into a container. Mark it with the words packing list enclosed. Customs officials must be able to find the packing list to check that it corresponds to the commercial invoice.

It’s essential that the packing list agrees exactly with the commercial invoice. Any discrepancy can cause a delay with customs clearance. If all the information required for the packing list is already stated in the commercial invoice, then the packing list may be unnecessary.

Certificate of Origin

Include proof where your products were made for correct customs assessment

A certificate of origin is a document that attests the goods you are exporting were wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country.

Almost all countries use the origin of goods as a key basis for applying duties and, in some cases, whether the goods can be legally imported at all. Certificates of origin may also be needed to comply with letters of credit or a buyer’s request.

There are two types of certificates of origin.

  1. Non-preferential certificates of origin
    These certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment.
  2. Preferential certificates of origin
    These certificates refer to products that enjoy reductions or exemption on duties.

Certificates of origin must be signed by the exporter and, for many countries, also validated by a chamber of commerce. For some destination countries, validation may also have to take place through a consulate.

The ‘origin’ does not refer to the country where the goods were shipped from but to the country where they were made. Many products are a compilation of components from multiple countries. In those situations, the country of origin is deemed to be the last country where over 50% of the value of the product was added. When countries unite in trading agreements, they may allow the certificate of origin to state the trading bloc, for example, the European Union, rather than the specific country.

To improve efficiency and reduce the risk of fraud, many chambers of commerce now issue electronic certificates.

Waybills and Bills of Lading

Get the proof you need of your goods being sent to your customer

Waybills, which are sometimes referred to as consignment notes or courier receipts, are issued by the company transporting your goods as evidence of the contract of carriage.

Waybills are differentiated according to the transportation method, hence the waybill for ocean freight is known as a sea waybill. The same principle applies to air, road and rail transport.

A waybill normally contains a list of the items you have included in the cargo, the condition of the cargo and the name of the carrier. You will endorse the waybill after acknowledging that the information provided is correct. In the past, waybills were typically hand-written receipts. They’ve now been replaced by shipping labels and the information is represented in barcode form in order to reduce errors and improve tracking capabilities. UPS customers are able to create these through UPS’s shipping system.

Bills of lading are also issued by the carrier once goods have been loaded onto a ship and can also be used as proof of export. But bills of lading act as commercial proof of completing a contractual obligation, especially under Incoterms like CFR and FOB. They are therefore documents of title, which are conveyed to foreign buyers in order to transfer ownership of goods.

Because bills of lading represent title to the goods, they can be traded and even borrowed upon if desired. They are therefore an important document for sellers using merchant factoring services in order to improve cash flow.

Packing Parcels

Protect your products with fit for purpose packaging that reinforces your brand

Packaging plays a significant role in your products’ branding. It also crucially functions as protection for your products, ensuring that they reach consumers undamaged. Getting packaging right can therefore provide you with a competitive advantage.

There are four key areas to consider when packaging products.

  1. Protection
    It’s important to design packaging so that it’s fit for purpose. Ensure packaging is the correct size as this reduces the risk of damage. If multiple items go into one parcel, then it’s best to shrink wrap them or use a cardboard or plastic tray to hold them in place. Products can be protected with a suitable filler – possibly polystyrene blocks or balls which surround your product on all sides to form a protective cushion. If you have particularly fragile items you should explore a specially engineered solution which fixes the product in position as well as protect from impact from all angles. Packages need to be robust enough to withstand the rigours of transportation such as being stacked or sorted through an automated conveyor-belt system.
  2. Labelling
    Your product’s packaging should be labelled clearly, describing what’s contained inside. The label might need to include a barcode and your customer might also give you an additional code or number that will be used by them for warehousing and inventory management. UPS customers are able to create smart shipping labels electronically, both avoiding the need to create labels by hand and allowing for an enhanced tracking experience.
  3. Process
    Parcels should be designed to make the process of packaging them more efficient and to reduce the risks of damage during production. Sometimes small changes to packaging can significantly speed up production processes.
  4. Branding
    Even if retailers remove packaging before consumers see your products, it’s important to get the packaging right. At the very least, the packaging should be neat, new and taped properly. If it’s seen by consumers, then special care should be taken to make sure it’s: easy to remove, unique, functional, safe, reinforces your brand, and promotes the product’s benefits.

PackingPackaging can make a significant contribution to your company’s efforts to be environmentally friendly. Consider making packaging reusable, recyclable or biodegradable so that it causes less damage to the environment.

Different countries predominantly use either EAN (European Article Number) or UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes. Check to make sure your products have barcodes that can be read by your customer’s technology.

Top tips for significantly reducing the risk of damage are:

    1. Know the fragility of your product and choose packaging material which either cushions and immobilises (for fragile items) or only immobilises (for robust items)
    2. Check the outer box for signs of humidity (for used boxes).
    3. Determine how much space is necessary for the product and cushioning before you choose a box
    4. Ensure that there is no contact between product and box and in case of multiple items no contact between product and product.
    5. When shacking the box the contents have to stay in place.
    6. Apply 50 mm wide self-adhesive plastic tape over all seams when under 25kg. Above 25kg use fibre reinforced tape.

 

Packing Pallets

Configure pallets smartly in order to reduce shipping costs

Packing parcels on pallets makes it easier to move large quantities of goods, but it’s important to carefully plan how pallets will be packed to reduce shipping costs and to make sure they fit on warehouse shelving.

PackingPalletsPallets can be made from wood or plastic and it’s important to choose the right one. Wooden pallets might need to be fumigated before shipment as they can attract beetles and fungus. The way in which some pallets are constructed also prevents them from being accessed on two sides by forklifts. It’s worth checking with your customer to make sure you send products on the right kind of pallet.

Pallets are made in standard sizes for warehouse shelving, but stacking them too high could prevent them from fitting. It’s also important to calculate the ideal volume of pallets, particularly if they are being transported in a container as, by fitting more products in, the transportation costs are proportionately reduced.

Software solutions are available to help you calculate the perfect pallet configuration and these can be useful when you create new or alternative case sizes, improve material and cube utilisation, or if you’re creating in-store displays. But it’s possible for you to do the calculations yourself if you’re willing to spend the time getting it right.

Parcels can be packed on pallets individually, but if they’re small it’s likely that additional boxes will be needed to hold several parcels. These boxes will need labels to indicate what can be found inside. Pallets also need to be properly wrapped and strapped to make sure boxes don’t tumble off while being transported. Special machinery is made for wrapping pallets, but, unless you have financial economies of scale, it’s easy doing it neatly yourself. Make sure a Packing List is attached to the pallet so that customs officials know what’s inside.

At the very least, you’ll need a pallet jack to move pallets around. If they need to be loaded onto the back of a truck or into a container, you’ll also need a forklift. If you’re not going to use a forklift often, then it might be worth investigating the possibility of renting one for a few hours when needed rather than buying one, thereby freeing up capital that could potentially be better used to grow your business.

Packing Containers

Keep your products secure and intact while they travel long distances

Containers are easy to pack, but you need to make sure you’re packing them optimally in order to reduce transportation costs, damage to your goods, and environmental impact.

PackingContainersPay particular attention to the distribution of weight in the container and to space utilisation. Fitting as many products into a container as possible will mean the cost of shipment per item is lower. Single shipments of more goods also has an environmental benefit.

It might be necessary to have containers fumigated before shipment takes place. Check with your customer to find out if a fumigation certificate is necessary. Make sure your Packing List can easily be located on a pallet that’s visible from the container’s door.

There are different container options for ocean freight shipments, depending on the quantity of goods you need to send.

  • Full container load (FCL)
    The carrier provides you with a container and you’ll pack it before it gets delivered to the closest port. The standard sizes for containers are 20 foot and 40 foot.
  • Less than container load (LCL)
    If you don’t have enough goods to fill a whole container, it might be possible to ship your products together with someone else’s products. This means you only pay for the space you use.
  • Breakbulk
    If the products you make are very large or unusually shaped, they may need to be shipped as separate pieces rather than in a container. This is called breakbulk shipping.

Collections

Arrange for your shipment to be collected when it's ready

It’s often best to work backwards when deciding when to schedule a collection.

First find out when your customer needs to get the delivery. They might have just-in-time inventory control and so they will need to be certain that your products arrive on a specific date or they’ll risk going out of stock. Your products may also form part of a special promotion, which means they’ll have to get to their destination on time.

Once you know when the products need to arrive, it’s easier to determine the date of the collection. If you are sending freight and you don’t have sufficient time to send your shipment by sea, you might need to send it by air.

If it’s just a single package or a few parcels you’re sending, then UPS can offer you different options to get the package to your customer faster, even right up to the next day with time of day commitment for the most premium express services.

A general rule of thumb however, is that you should plan to have your package collected early in the day if you want to take advantage of the fastest services as there will often be a cut-off point for collection.

If you have shipments that take place according to a schedule, then it’s possible to set up a regular collection agreement with UPS. If shipments don’t take place at regular intervals, then it’s possible to prompt a UPS collection at the time of creating a shipping label online.

Access Point

Consider offering your customers an alternative delivery option

Many online shoppers still prefer to have purchases delivered to their homes, and UPS continues to offer an industry-leading service portfolio with three home delivery attempts as standard. UPS Access Point offers a convenient alternative to this model, enabling convenient, first-time deliveries, improving the overall consumer experience and making on-line shopping an even more attractive proposition.

You’re able to make use of UPS Access Point technology to offer click and collect solutions for your online customers. UPS Access Point provides convenient delivery points, which can also be used by customers to drop off purchases that are being returned.

Our technology will not only help you schedule delivery tasks, but will also allow customers to choose the most convenient delivery location, track packages online and make returns with ease. And if you sell your products through eBay and Amazon, you can integrate UPS marketplace shipping into the shipping process to streamline the process.

UPS Access Point is a sustainable model for consumer delivery, as more first-time deliveries equate to a reduced carbon footprint. UPS Access Point is available in several countries in Europe and North America, demonstrating UPS’s continuing commitment to the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sector.

Customs Clearance

Make sure your products clear customs with speed and ease

Research shows that customs clearance provokes the most anxiety among small and medium-sized business owners embarking on exporting. Customs hold-ups can be expensive and they invariably lead to late deliveries.

One way of reducing the risk of having your goods held up in customs is to be fastidious in packaging and labelling your products and making sure all export documentation is 100% correct. Any tiny discrepancy could be noticed by customs control officials, which could trigger dreaded delays and even fines.

UPS offers a customs brokerage service for moving your goods through customs barriers. Advice is given on documentation, and duties, taxes and excise is calculated. Our experience and technology will help get your shipments cleared.

Tracking

Set-up tracking alerts to keep a close eye on the progress of your delivery

UPS Quantum View® Manage is a free web-based tool that tracks your inbound and outbound shipments.

trackingKnowing exactly when your goods will be delivered improves communication with your customer, which impacts the business processes that help them improve efficiency. Tracking shipments therefore plays a crucial part in improving your customer’s satisfaction with your service.

UPS offers different technology solutions for your tracking needs.

  • UPS Tracking and SMS Tracking
    All UPS shipments get a tracking number so that you can trace the shipment’s movement until it reaches its final destination. You can assign reference numbers to shipments so that they match your billing system or your customer’s order reference or job number. If you’re on the move, you can opt in to get SMS notifications. With My UPS Enhanced Tracking, you can import up to 100 numbers and track them at one time. UPS Signature Tracking provides tracking results with a signature image as well as the name and delivery address of your customer.
  • Quantum View®
    If the number of packages you send out increases and you start sending freight shipments, it may become difficult to keep up using individual tracking numbers. Quantum View® Manage enables you get information about all the shipments you send or those you’re expecting from one web-based format that is easily customisable. Additionally, you can provide the same visibility to customers and colleagues with Quantum View® Notify. Proactively keep customers informed when a shipment has been collected and it’s on its way, and improve customer care by ensuring your team is the first to know if a shipment is delayed or delivered.
  • Flex® Global View
    If your supply chain becomes more complex with suppliers and inventory in different countries, then Flex® Global View will give you total visibility across multiple modes of transportation while monitoring supplier purchase order fulfilment and inventory tracking at UPS’s Material Management and Distribution Service.

Knowing when your shipments will be delivered improves your customer’s experience as clear communication around deliveries means they’re able to plan their receiving function more effectively. They can forecast staffing needs efficiently to make sure their receiving dock is properly managed to avoid bottlenecks.

If you have an online business that sells to consumers, then you might consider embedding a UPS Tracking API into your website. UPS’s service level and time-in-transit information will be visible to your customers from your website meaning that you encourage return visits as they keep an eye on their delivery.

Proof of Delivery

Get the proof you need to facilitate prompt payment from your customer

The sooner cash comes in, the sooner you can pay expenses and invest in your business.

Knowing if your parcel, pallet or container has been delivered is crucial if you haven’t been paid in advance for your export delivery. Without proof of delivery (P.O.D.), you could have delays in payment, which will adversely affect your business’s financial health.

ProofOfDeliveryThere are different methods of getting proof of delivery, depending on what you’re sending and the type of UPS tracking technology you use. For e-commerce companies sending small parcels, a signature P.O.D. might be all you’ll need to receive. UPS’s P.O.D.s include the time of the delivery, full delivery address, and the name and signature of the person who accepted your shipment.

For larger shipments governed by Incoterms like DDP (delivery duty paid), UPS will provide P.O.D.s as proof of handing over the cargo. The P.O.D. will contain the number of packages, description of the cargo, invoice, and the date and time of the delivery.

Returns

Remain in control of your goods even in the event of returns

Conventional wisdom says returns are bad for business. Not so with the power of logistics on your side.

For some businesses, such as online fashion retailers, returns are part of the service offering. Consumers are more likely to buy from online retailers that offer free returns as it means they can purchase goods without worrying about what to do if they’re not quite right.

An efficient returns handling procedure built into your service offering can boost sales and speed up turn-around time in order to get the right product to your customer. UPS helps in several different ways:

  • UPS Returns Labels
    UPS offers four solutions for providing your customers with return labels.

    • Print Return Label: Print a return label to include within an outbound shipment or provide a label to your customer at a later date
    • Electronic Return Label: Have UPS e-mail a return label to your customer
    • Authorised Return Label: Available on a contractual basis for high-volume shippers who return products of similar size, weight or value
  • UPS Returns Plus
    UPS Returns Plus is a premium returns service where we generate a return label, brings it to your customer, apply it to the return package and take the package away so that it can be sent back to you.
  • UPS Returns Pack and Collect
    UPS Returns Pack and Collect is a contract-only premium service enabling you to have UPS pick-up a return item using one of three UPS branded boxes and return label supplied by us.
  • UPS Returns Exchange
    UPS Returns Exchange is a contract-only, premium service that enables a shipper to have a replacement item delivered and a return item picked-up in the same stop.
  • UPS Access Point and UPS Stores
    In some countries it’s possible to for your customers to drop parcels off at a UPS Access Point, which is typically a newsagent or convenience store, in order to return it to you. Your customers in the United States are also able to drop parcels off at UPS’s large network of stores.

In business-to-business transactions, particularly ones where pallets or containers are delivered, it’s important to minimise returns by ensuring that your customers receive the right goods. Having unambiguous specifications and clear product codes built into the sales negotiations process helps ensure that customers receive exactly what they’re expecting. Thorough quality control checks will eliminate defective goods being dispatched and then returned.

Service businesses, such as lawyers, sometimes need to send documents to their clients for signing, which then get returned. UPS reusable envelopes speed up the process and reduce wastage, which is also good for the environment.

Payment

Manage your shipping costs with our secure, online billing interface

Paying for your UPS transportation services is straight forward, whether you choose to ship infrequently using a credit card or, if more applicable, you choose to open an account with UPS and receive invoices. For the second option you also have free access to The UPS Billing Centre which provides you with secure online access to receive and view your invoices faster, pay online, and create reports to track and reconcile shipping costs. Furthermore, by opting for digital billing solutions you can store, analyse and share your billing information more easily, saving you processes, time and money.

It is also possible to associate up to two references against each shipment when you process a shipping label with UPS. This could be a PO number, an item reference, or customer order number. Whatever you choose, this will display on your invoice and be captured within your billing data making it easier to reconcile shipping costs later on.

Collect on Delivery

Improve your cash flow and confidence in trading across the EU

Collect on Delivery (C.O.D.) improves cash flow through faster payment and the reduction of risk doing business with new customers across the EU. This service can be combined with any UPS shipping service.

How it works: UPS collects cash, cheque or secured funds (bank draft or bank certified cheque) payments from your customers in the European Union (EU) upon delivery of your parcel. Then the funds are returned to you within 3-5 working days directly into an account of your choice or via a bank transfer cheque.

Maximum values to the amounts that can be collected apply depending on the destination country and the product you are shipping. Fees for the service are based on a percentage of the value of the goods or a nominal minimum charge.