Here at Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we are experts in inbound and outbound international freight movement to the USA. As one of the largest markets in the world, expanding into the US is the end goal for many businesses and offering a well-structured and reliable shipping service is the best way to ensure success. In this guide, we’ll go through the things you need to know about exporting goods to the USA so you can make an informed decision about whether this is the right option for your business.

Why Ship to the USA

The USA provides the largest consumer market worldwide, with the highest household spending in the world. It has a GDP of $20 trillion with 325 million people, significantly broadening the scope of your business possibilities too. Choosing to export to the US offers a host of benefits, including:

  • The opportunity to access and reach more customers or businesses, depending on your business model.
  • Diversifying the range of opportunities available to you.
  • Providing additional growing markets to your portfolio to support you if your domestic option begins to scale back.
  • The opportunity to extend the lifespan of products or services.
  • Better margins due to larger economies of scale and higher production quantities.

The UK exports the most goods to the US – an approximated 15.7% of all UK exports go into this market. And records show that demand from the USA for UK products was the biggest driver of export growth with statistics from 2019 showing an increase of £6.1 billion. There has never been a better time to consider expanding your business into the US market, with the support of a freight forwarding company.

What Documents Are Required?

As with international shipments to any country, you need to ensure you have the right paperwork to successfully clear customs. There are 5 standard documents that you should become familiar with – especially if you’re going to ship consistently to the USA. These are:

US Customs Invoice

These essential documents are there to identify the type of good and the total value. They also contain information about the individual or firm who holds responsibility for invoicing. Every US customs invoice must have an accurate and full description of the goods being exported as well as the 8-digit commodity code. The document will travel with your goods throughout its journey and is a legal requirement for customs clearance and your goods will not be cleared to leave the UK if it does not have one.

Inward Cargo Manifest

The Inward Cargo Manifest features an itemized list of every item within the shipment and can be submitted as either a hard or digital copy. It should be supplied by the exporter and should have its own unique reference number for easy identification. Manifests are used for a variety of purposes, including checks to ensure the cargo is compatible for shipping and customs clearance too.

Commercial Invoice

This legal document is there solely to provide information about the value of the goods being shipped. It is there to ensure the money owed to the exporter is paid and to support customs clearance. It will include information such as the country where the goods were manufactured, the commodity code and the contact information of both the exporter and end customer.

Bill of Lading

You can find more detailed information about the Bill of Lading in our blog post here. However, in short, this legal document outlines the goods that are being shipped and acts as a receipt. It will also detail the terms of the contract and is used as evidence of the transfer of goods too. There are numerous copies of the BOL.

Packing List

You will need a detailed packing list for any exports to the US that includes all relevant information, including quantities, model numbers, dimensions and weights. It will be completed by the exporter and is used by relevant parties along the way to help determine taxes and duties owed.

Restrictions and Prohibited Goods

For businesses looking to expand into the US market, it is vital that there is an understanding of the restricted and prohibited goods that cannot pass through customs. There is a long list of products that are forbidden, by law, to enter the country. These include products like:

  • Firearms.
  • Vehicles that don’t meet the fuel emission requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Gold, medals of bullions originating from Cuba, Iran, Burma or Sudan.
  • Goods from Embargoed countries.
  • Narcotics.
  • Soil or relevant loose surface materials.
  • Bush meat.
  • Dog or cat fur goods.

Working with the right professional freight forwarder is the best way to ensure your goods can be safely, and legally, exported into the USA. Some restricted goods can still be sent successfully, however you may require a special permit or license before their sale. This is all information and support that our specialist team can provide.

Packaging Goods to Be Sent to the USA

Another consideration to make when structuring the logistics of your US exports is the packaging that you choose. Whether you opt for air freight or more traditional options, such as sea cargo movements, your goods will be handled numerous times during its transport. And, therefore, it needs to be packaged securely and safely to reduce the risk of damage and accidents.

We highly recommend investing in double-lined cardboard and rigid boxes that don’t have any creases. If you are shipping numerous items in one package, we recommend individually wrapping the items and packing the box with cushioning solutions such as packing chips, bubble wrap or polystyrene.

At Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we provide support and advice to help businesses expand their customer base. International export and import to the USA is one of our key specialisms and, as such, we have the right team on hand to help your shipments smoothly and without disruption. If you’re considering this move in the next few months, want to request a quote or want to speak to a member of our team, please do get in contact with us here today.