5 Things to Know Before Getting an International Shipping Quote

Five Things to Know Before Getting an International Shipping Quote


International shipping can be a bit overwhelming.. From terminology to paperwork, there are a few more details involved with international shipping vs domestic shipping.  Here are five things to know before reaching out to your freight forwarder to help you feel more prepared and confident when asking for a quote or trying to book a shipment.

1. Shipping Details:

Just like any shipment you will need to know the standard shipping information including the piece count, weight and dimensions of each piece, how its packaged (skids, crates, boxes, ect…), when it needs to be delivered, and any special requirement, for example if it is hazardous or not. Note, any wood crates or skids used on an international shipment need to be made with approved treated wood. (More info on this here: https://ispm15.com )

2. Mode of Transportation:

Shipping internationally can mean, ocean, air, or truck depending on your origin and destination. Ocean containers take considerably longer to transport than air, so consider when your shipment will be ready vs when it needs to be delivered and then see which options are available.

3. Origin and Destination:

As opposed to domestic shipping where you ship from one address to another address (aka door-to-door), internationally you have options to ship to/from ports, for example an airport or ocean port. So, the options you have are door to door, door to port, port to port, or port to door. The reason you don’t always ship door to door is that your customer may want to control the movement of the freight, for different reasons, once it arrives in their country. This leads to the next point:

4. Incoterms:

Next up, you’ll need to provide your Incoterms for the shipment. Incoterms spell out who is responsible for the freight during the shipping process. This includes costs associated with shipping, insurance, and tariffs. At different points in the shipment, the shipper and consignee can agree to transfer ownership of the shipment which determines who pays for the different costs associated with the freight. Incoterms are standard across the industry, so you can choose from a list of terms which best represent your transaction. (For a full list of Incoterms click here (https://iccwbo.org/resources-for-business/incoterms-rules/incoterms-rules-2010/)

5. Commercial Invoice:

Just like when people travel internationally, your freight needs to go through customs. To do this you will need a commercial invoice. A commercial invoice will have info like the details of the shipment as well as the value of the goods and the HS code(s). The HS code also known as the HTS code or Schedule B, which is a classification code for your freight, and again there is a standardized list which you can pick from. (For a full list of HS codes click here: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/index.html). You can either create a commercial invoice or ask your forwarder to create one. You can also ask your freight forwarder if they are able to file the customs papers or you may have to find a company that just handles custom clearance for the shipment. At Ark we have customs clearing in-house.


With this information gathered, you’re on the right track to get a quote from your freight forwarder. If you ever have any questions or need a freight forwarder to move your international shipment, feel free to reach out to Ark at quotes@arktrans.com for help.