International Shipping: Getting Ready to Ship

Note — this was cowritten with Jasson McClain.

International shipping can be a bit overwhelming. From terminology to paperwork, there are a few more details involved with international shipping than with a standard domestic shipment. Let’s take a look at what makes international shipping unique and what you will need when importing or exporting freight.

When shipping internationally, your freight will need to pass through customs. To properly clear customs, you will need to provide documents that verify the contents of your shipment as well as the parties involved. Let’s look at what documents you will need to provide to your freight forwarder or customs broker. For an international shipment, you will need:

  • Commercial Invoice: This document contains all the general details of the shipment as well as the value of the goods being shipped (individual and total amounts).
  • Packing List: This document will have the physical dimensions of your shipment.
  • Bill of Lading: Similar to a domestic shipment, this document will have all of the shipping details as well as the routing information and contact information for all parties.

Note: Both the commercial invoice and the packing list require Harmonized Code(s), also known as HS or HTS numbers. These are internationally standardized numeric codes that align with the product description and is used by customs to apply proper duties and taxes. Learn more at the International Trade Administration.

Let’s look at a few more pieces of information that will be required:

  • Certificate of Origin: a certificate validating where the product was manufactured (not always the same country that material is shipping from).
  • Tax ID, business license number, or country-specific ID number that verifies that the person or company has the proper authority to export goods out of the country or import goods into the country.


Another important consideration is deciding who will be responsible for things like shipping costs, customs fees and taxes, and liability during transit. These are called Incoterms and must be agreed upon by the seller and the buyer. Once agreed upon, let your freight forwarder know which Incoterm is being used. Your freight forwarder can help you understand which Incoterm to use for your shipment. You can find a full list here.

Declaring the Value of Your Freight

For international shipments, the value of product is required to determine estimated duties and taxes.

Since most equipment for mining crypto is expensive, it is recommended to add additional freight insurance coverage for the shipment, as the standard insurance may be of less value than the actual goods. Most shipping companies can provide a shipment-specific freight insurance policy that covers excessive damage or a complete loss. There is typically an added cost for this. You can either accept the coverage charges or decline.

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