Basics of international shipping

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We know international shipping can be complex, whether you’re sending one fabric sample to Hong Kong or a hundred automotive parts to Dubai. This international shipping checklist provides a brief overview of what you need to know and information to gather to make it easier.

Requesting a DHL Express account offers many advantages – such as preferred pricing, online import/export shipping tools and access to DHL tools designed to help simplify the complexities of international shipping. Plus free shipping supplies delivered right to your door.

Request an account now.

The calculation of duties depends on the assessable value of a dutiable shipment. For the purpose of determining this estimate, dutiable goods in the shipment are given a classification code (up to ten digits) known as a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code, Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) or Schedule B number. When determining a classification code, commodity descriptions might appear to be similar, but they can have significantly different rates of duty.
Learn more about classifying your shipment commodity 

All DHL Express services are time definite and offer secure door-to-door delivery service of goods and documents to and from virtually every country in the world. Whether you need your shipments delivered early morning or by the end of the working day, our service offers full track-and-trace visibility so you always know where your shipments are.

Export Services: DHL provides door-to-door international export delivery of important time-sensitive document and non-document shipments by the next possible business day.
Learn more about Export Services

Import Services: DHL Time Definite Import Services allow you to import from around the world by a specific time or the end of the next possible business day.
Learn more about Import Services

Whether you are importing or exporting, DHL makes it simple for you to calculate a shipping rate quote with the service options of your choice, as well as find up-to-date transit times.

Getting a rate quote online is easy. Simply input your DHL Express account number, the origin and destination details and the package scale weight and dimensions (length x width x height).  Dimensions are used to calculate Volumetric Weight. Shipping charges are based on the greater of the shipment’s actual weight or volumetric weight.  All available DHL Express services – with a guaranteed delivery date and estimated charges – will be presented. If you do not have a DHL Express account, rates as published in the DHL Express Service and Rate Guide  apply.

A “landed cost estimate” is a calculation of the total amount you can expect to pay for transit costs and insurance charges, as well as applied duties, taxes and fees for the commodities being shipped.

Diverse and ever-changing trade regulations and requirements in different parts of the world create complexities and challenges in shipping. Designed to help simplify things, the DHL Trade Automation Services (TAS) solution provides total visibility on critical detailed trade information, all streamlined and customizable to meet your particular needs. To ensure your goods are transported as efficiently as possible, TAS provides access to millions of trade rules, giving you the information you need to ensure that your Customs paperwork is filled out completely and accurately – and provide a precise landed-cost estimate.

Calculate your landed cost 

Your DHL Express Waybill contains all the information DHL needs to know to keep your shipment moving. All DHL online shipping solutions make it easy to prepare your international shipment. By creating your waybill online you will have visibility to missing or incomplete information, as well as be advised of applicable DHL services.

A Commercial Invoice is the first international document that you prepare as an exporter – for dutiable shipments. The Commercial Invoice serves as a bill for the goods from the importer to the exporter, and is evidence of the transaction.

Exporting: Some additional required and special case documents may be required for exporting – some examples include Electronic Export Information (EEI) – for high value shipments, Certificate of Origin and other Special Case Documents.
Learn more about required documents for exporting

Importing: A variety of required documents are required for importing in to the U.S. – some examples include Certificate of Origin, Packing List, Power of Attorney, Licenses, Permits, Carnets and more.
Learn more about required documents for importing

When a shipment enters or leaves the country, Customs reviews the accompanying paperwork to ensure the shipper has followed all the appropriate rules and regulations.

Before handing over your shipments to DHL, making sure you’ve filled out the paperwork properly and completely will help avoid delays in the Customs process.

To help ensure faster Customs clearance be sure to:

  • Provide all necessary documents
  • List each commodity separately with accurate descriptions
  • Check for consistency across all documents
  • Make sure documents are clearly written, typed or electronically submitted
  • Provide as much detailed information as possible
  • Confirm that all associated costs are correct
  • Ensure that receiving country or person is not on a Denied Parties list

Learn more about clearing Customs for exporting 
Learn more about clearing Customs for importing

DHL Express has the fastest, most knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives and we have Stevie® Awards to prove it. Don’t hesitate to call us, we’re here to help you.

For assistance 24 hours a day, please use our self-serve applications for rate quotes, scheduling a pickup and tracking.

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Download our checklist now

This international shipping checklist provides a brief overview of what you need to know and information to gather to make it easier.

Download our checklist now
Download our checklist now