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Customs Documentation and Customs Clearance

Properly completed customs clearance paperwork will help your shipments reach their destination on time, and reduce the risk of customs delays.

Customs Clearance and Brokerage for Export Shipments

Shippers in Canada will enjoy preferred customs clearance charges when they elect to pay the customs clearance charges for Purolator Express® U.S. and Purolator Express® Ground U.S. shipments to the U.S. that are cleared by Purolator’s default broker.

For more information regarding Purolator’s customs brokerage rates, please contact your Account Executive or call us at 1 888 SHIP-123.

Customs Brokerage

A customs broker acts as an agent for the shipper or receiver by filing entries to customs, and paying the duties, taxes and any other customs clearance related charge. The customs broker will charge a brokerage fee for their services. All charges assessed against the shipment (duties, taxes, applicable clearance fees and brokerage) are invoiced to the paying party (e.g. receiver) by the customs broker. Purolator’s customers can select a customs broker for:

  • Purolator Ground® U.S. shipments destined for the U.S. Note: The customs broker must be on Purolator’s approved brokers list.
  • Purolator Express® U.S., Purolator Express® International and Purolator Ground® U.S. shipments imported into Canada

Assigning a Customs Broker for U.S. Shipments

When shipping to the U.S. with the Purolator Ground® U.S. service, you have the option of selecting your own customs broker. The customs broker must be a licensed U.S. customs broker and be able to clear Purolator shipments moving through our delivery network. If a customs broker is not assigned on the commercial invoice or bill of lading, we will assign an approved customs broker on your behalf according to the Purolator Terms and Conditions of Service. Note: Customers are not able to select an alternate customs broker for Purolator Express® U.S. and Purolator Express® International shipments as all customs clearance will be performed by Purolator’s designated broker.

For more information, please contact your Account Executive or call us at 1 888 SHIP-123.


Who will pay for the clearance related charges?

International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) define the liabilities and obligations between the buyer and seller in a commercial transaction.

For dutiable shipments being transported with Purolator, the shipper should indicate the responsible party for duties, taxes and customs clearance related charges. If the payer of the customs clearance is not indicated on the commercial invoice or bill of lading, the receiver will be deemed to be the responsible party by default.

While there are many Incoterms that are applicable for various modes of transportation or transaction type, the two Incoterms that are available when shipping with Purolator are: Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) and Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU).

DDP is used to indicate that the shipper or seller will assume responsibility and be billed for all obligations related to the clearance and delivery of the goods (i.e. duties, taxes, brokerage and any other customs clearance charges). Note: The term Free Domicile is still widely used to indicate that all obligations for shipping and customs clearance charges are to be assigned to the shipper. This term is being replaced and phased out by DDP.

DDU  is used for all other assignments, however the invoice is normally assigned to the receiver or buyer.

Note: Some international destinations do not allow DDP or Free Domicile for imported goods, and charges are automatically assigned to the receiver.

U.S. & International Customs Documentation Centre

Determining which documents are required for your shipment will depend on the destination, the description and the value of the shipment. The following is a list of the most frequently used customs documents:

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is the most commonly used customs document. It is required when shipping non-document shipments to any international destination, and for U.S. shipments valued at USD$800 or greater. Learn how to complete a commercial invoice.

FCC Form 740 (U.S.)

A FCC Form 740 is required for each electronic article being shipped to the U.S. that can emit radio frequency. These radio frequency devices are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Note: This form is not required for electronic devices manufactured in the United States.

Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles (Form 3299)

The Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles (Form 3299) may be used by importers to claim duty-free entry into the U.S. for unaccompanied goods such as personal and household effects.

FDA Form 2877 Radiation Control Form (U.S.)

A FDA Form 2877 is required for articles being shipped to the U.S. that can emit radiation, and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. For more information on the types of articles, please review the list of radiation emitting items.

Shipping Textiles to the United States

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) require importers identify the manufacturer of any textile product entering the U.S. by a Manufacturer Identification code (MID).

The MID replaces the requirements for a textile declaration form.

In lieu of a MID code, the exporter can indicate the full name and address of the product’s manufacturer on the commercial invoice. The customs broker will construct the MID for submission to CBP using the manufacturer’s name and address.

Export Reporting

Statistics Canada and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) launched the national Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) program, which enables registered exporters and agents the opportunity to report goods electronically to the Federal Government of Canada.

Shippers are required to obtain authorization from the CBSA to ship controlled or regulated products and goods valued at over CDN$2,000 to international points prior to shipping. This does not include shipments destined for the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. The shipper may download the free, online software for the CAED to satisfy export reporting requirements.

North American Free Trade Agreement Certificate of Origin

Shipments that are intended to clear customs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) must be accompanied by a NAFTA Certificate of Origin. A NAFTA Certificate of Origin certificate with a blanket period may be filed with a customs broker for a 12 month period. Articles manufactured in Canada, Mexico or the United States may qualify for preferential tariff treatment according to NAFTA.

The Harmonized System Code

The Harmonized System Code (HS Code) was developed by the World Customs Organization as a standardized system for all existing goods that can be traded and are listed according to their descriptions and assigned a numerical reference - the HS Code. The HS Code allows for the same goods to be classified under the same HS Code in any of the participating countries. Canada and the U.S. use a 10-digit HS Code, however they are not identical following the sixth digit.

Providing your specific HS Code on the commercial invoice assists the customs broker to accurately classify and rate your shipment during the customs clearance process and determine the rate of duty to be applied.

Learn more about the Harmonized Codes for the United States and Canada.