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U.S. Exporting guide

This guide will contain details related to exporting products and the documentation required to do so. The following topics are covered:

Electronics Export Information (EEI)

What is an Electronics Export Information?
For shipments going out of the United States (excluding to Canada), the U.S. Census Bureau requires Electronic Export Information (EEI) to be submitted via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ACE Portal. The EEI is formerly known as the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) form for orders with a Commercial Invoice value that exceeds $2500. An order can experience delays in customs without the proper EEI documentation. More information about EEI filing.

When do EEIs apply to me and are there exceptions?
A commercial invoice that exceeds $2,500 with retail values may be less than $2,500 when using the wholesale values. If an order is filled out with wholesale values and does not exceed $2,500 then an SED is not required. It is also not required when sending a product to yourself at one of your locations (i.e. to a Shipwire warehouse). In this case, you can edit the commercial invoice to be at the cost value and if the total is less than $2,500, an EEI form will not be needed.

In cases of damaged or returned goods that will be scrapped, the declared commercial invoice value can be lower than actual value, which in some cases will not require an EEI.
If the exporter is sending baggage or containers with their personal or household goods valued over $2,500 to a foreign destination, other than Canada, they must file the EEI and provide the ITN to the carrier in accordance with the timeline.

If the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) is sending goods through the U.S. Postal Service they are required to file the EEI only if the entire shipment is valued over $2,500 per Schedule B or if it requires an export license. The exporter should submit the ITN or exemption citation to the post office.

There are instances when the EEI is not required. Some examples of when the EEI does not have to be prepared by an exporter and filed by the carrier are as follows:

Exporters sending shipments in which the ultimate destination is Canada, as long as the goods are not licensed or contain rough or uncut diamonds, or shipments to U.S. possessions (i.e. Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Island, Wake Island and American Samoa). However, if the shipments ultimate destination is the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico the EEI must be filed. For specifics on when EEI filing is required, see the Correct Way to Complete the EEI.

What is ACE?
The Automated Export System (AES) is a computer system that collects Electronic Export Information (EEI). In many cases, the law requires you to report EEI for goods exported from the United States and its territories.
 

Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)

What is an Harmonized Tariff Schedule?
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), also referred to as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSA), is the primary resource for determining tariff (customs duties) classifications for goods. The tariff schedule has 99 chapters under 22 sections, and various appendices for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and intermediate chemicals for dye. Raw materials or basic substances generally appear in the early chapters and in earlier headings within a chapter, whereas highly processed goods and manufactured articles appear in later chapters and headings. For example, Section I and Section II cover animals and plants, while Sections XVI, XVII, and XVIII cover “Machinery and Mechanical Appliances”, “Vehicles, Aircraft, and Vessels”, and “Precision Instruments, Clocks and Watches, and Musical Instruments”.
Tariff Classification Schedule is a 10 digit number that must be provided in order to communicate what commodity is when Exporting from the United States. This is the numerical representation of the commodity. Tariff Classification Schedules can be located at HTS Search.

Ports directory – This link provides a list of Customs ports of entry by state. There are many individuals who can assist with classification of your product.

Customs Rulings – This is a searchable database that provides links to official Memoranda of Customs Rulings for individual products. The product you have may have been classified in this manner, saving a lot of time and effort.

eRulings – This is a link to obtain eRulings, or official Customs rulings by email. There is a list of information and paperwork that you need to get together and provide to Customs.

What are the differences between HS codes and HTS codes?

HS Codes
The Harmonized System classification is a six-digit standard, called a subheading, for classifying globally traded products. HS codes, also called HS numbers, are used by customs authorities around the world to identify the duty and tax rates for specific types of products. HS codes are administered by the World Customs Organization. HS codes are recognized in 98% of world trade. There are six digits in an HS code. You use an HS code because it is a universal classification tool—many governments add additional digits to the HS number to further distinguish products in certain categories. These additional digits are typically different in every country.

HTS Codes
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule code is a 10-digit import classification system that is specific to the United States. HTS codes, also called HTS numbers, are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). It’s very important that all U.S. importers know and use the correct HTS-US codes, because commodity duties are assessed based on this classification. An HTS code takes the same form as an HS code for the first six digits, and then has four differing last digits.
 

Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)

What is an Export Control Classification Number?

ECCNs are five character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to identify dual-use items for export control purposes. An ECCN categorizes items based on the nature of the product, i.e. type of commodity, software, or technology and its respective technical parameters. A key in determining whether an export license is needed from the Department of Commerce is finding out if the item you intend to export has a specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). ECCNs are five character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to identify dual-use items for export control purposes. An ECCN categorizes items based on the nature of the product, i.e. type of commodity, software, or technology and its respective technical parameters.

An ECCN is different from a Schedule B number, which is used by the Bureau of Census to collect trade statistics. It is also different from the Harmonized Tariff System Nomenclature, which is used to determine import duties.

All ECCNs are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL) (Supplement No. 1 to Part 774 of the EAR), which is divided into ten broad categories, and each category is further subdivided into five product groups. The first character of the ECCN identifies the broader category to which it belongs and the second character identifies the product group.

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If Your Item is Not on the Commerce Control List – EAR99
If your item falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. The majority of commercial products are designated EAR99 and generally will not require a license to be exported or reexported. However, if you plan to export an EAR99 item to an embargoed or sanctioned country, to a party of concern, or in support of a prohibited end-use, you may be required to obtain a license.

What is a Commerce Control List (CCL)?

A key in determining whether an export license is needed from the Department of Commerce is knowing whether the item you intend to export has a specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). The ECCN is an alpha-numeric code, e.g., 3A001, that describes the item and indicates licensing requirements. All ECCNs are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL) (Supplement No. 1 to Part 774 of the EAR) which is available on the Government Printing Office website. The CCL is divided into ten broad categories, and each category is further subdivided into five product groups.
All ECCNs are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL); there are also Classification Request Guidelines: The guidelines identify some common problems with or omissions from commodity classification requests and suggest steps you can take to avoid them. There are also Publicly Available Classification Information As a service to exporters, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) established a webpage where sources of publicly available information on Commodity Classifications can be found.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

If you are shipping merchandise from 1) one of our U.S. warehouses to a non-U.S. address, 2) one of our non-U.S. warehouses to a U.S. address, or if you are sending in a new receiving order from 3) a non-U.S. address to one of our U.S. warehouses, please note that U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) guidelines require that import/export filings include the shipper’s EIN number. In the case of imports, CBP does allow the Importer to list the consignee’s EIN or SSN number, but practically speaking, there is no easy way for most merchant’s to collect this information. As a result of these changes, Shipwire requires that merchants with shipments in one of these three categories, to enter their EIN number.

If you do not yet have a Federal Tax ID, then you have two options that will allow you to get one:

  • Incorporate your business in the US in 2-3 business days by visiting incorporate.com.
    • Ask for an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
    • If you want to call them dial 1-888-340-7239 and tell them you came from Partner #9105 (We track aggregate sign-ups to ensure that you get the highest quality service).
    • Get your EIN Now (Alternately, visit this page). An alternate number if you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number is 800-818-6082 (Toll-free) or 302-636-5440. Please tell them at that Partner #9105 sent you.
  • Obtain a personal tax id from the IRS online or via forms
    • If the link above doesn’t work for your computer or you have issues, you can fill out Form SS-4. (Application for Employer Identification Number). IRS Form SS-4. Instructions for Form SS-4. (Please note, we try and keep these links up to date; but you can also go to www.irs.gov and search for “form SS-4”³.)
      • Over the phone only takes a few minutes: Call 215-516-6999 for the international bureau of IRS registrations. The number can be issued the same day if you talk to an agent and then fax in your signature.
      • Via Fax can take 4-5 days. Fax a completely filled out Form SS-4 to 800-829-1040 (domestic fax machines only) or 215-516-1040 (for international faxes).
      • You can also submit the form by mail which can 30 days or more (not advised).
      • In some cases you may be asked to get the final confirmation form from the IRS forms office. Call them at 215-516-2000, and ask them to issue a registration confirmation via fax. You can then forward this to your carrier for processing of the import.
  • Feel free to list the Shipwire warehouse address where you are storing your inventory on your EIN documentation as a location of product storage.

    [Please Note: Shipwire does not provide a tax ID number for import purposes.]


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