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Export Documents FAQ

What kind of invoice should I provide for my international shipment?

All shipments containing non-documents require a commercial invoice.

Three copies of the commercial invoice or pro forma invoice (if a commercial invoice is not available) are required for all your non-document shipments. Business or personal stationery may be used for these invoices if it contains all the required shipment information that is on your invoice.

Note: UPS Connect generates export documentation automatically.

The Commercial Invoice should include:

  • Name and address of shipper (seller) as shown on the address label, including a contact person and telephone number
  • Name and address of consignee (ship to), including destination country and postcode, as shown on the address label. To help ensure prompt delivery, a contact person and telephone number must be included.
  • Invoice date
  • Purchase order or invoice number, if applicable
  • Name and address of purchaser (importer) if different from the consignee, including a contact name and telephone number
  • Complete description of each item being shipped
  • Information about what the item is made of and what it is used for (include Customs Harmonised Codes, if known)
  • Country of origin. Where was the item manufactured?
  • Number of units, unit value and total value of each item. For samples and articles with no commercial value, a nominal or fair-market value must be stated for Customs purposes
  • Transportation and Declared Value or insurance charges
  • Total value of the shipment, including currency of settlement
  • Reason for export. For example: sale, repair, inter-company
  • Terms of Sale (Incoterm) that define the charges included in the total value on the invoice. For example: CIF is cost, insurance and freight
  • Number of packages and total weight of packages
  • Shipper's signature and date

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When do I need to provide a U.S. Certificate of Origin?

Some destinations require a Certificate of Origin (CO) for certain commodities. The purpose of the CO is to authenticate the country of origin of the merchandise being shipped.

For those forms that are completed online, this application is designed for goods whose origin is the U.S. or Puerto Rico only.

The CO may be required to comply with international trade treaties, varying duty rates, and preferential duty treatment that are determined by the shipment's origin.

The CO verifies the country in which the goods were manufactured. The commodity being exported and its destination determine if the CO is required. Some nations restrict imports from certain countries; many countries limit the quantity of goods that are allowed to be imported, or give preference to goods manufactured in the U.S.

This form requires the authorized signature of the local Chamber of Commerce Secretary and the seal of that organization.

If the goods qualify as North American Origin, use the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) CO for shipments between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., including Puerto Rico. (See NAFTA Certificate of Origin below.)

Note: The rules for when a CO is needed change often. Verify the current criteria requiring a CO before sending your shipment. The descriptions and amounts on the CO must be consistent with those entered on the Invoice.

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The NAFTA Certificate of Origin is used by Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States to determine whether imported goods receive reduced or eliminated duty as specified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

For forms completed online, this application is designed for goods whose origin is the U.S. or Puerto Rico only. The NAFTA Certificate of Origin is also available as a paperless document, which can be transmitted electronically as part of your Paperless Invoice package (where available). When shipping from the U.S. or Canada, prepare one original and two copies of the invoice. When shipping from Puerto Rico, prepare one original and one copy.

The NAFTA Certificate of Origin must be attached to an invoice if the shipment is valued at greater than:

  • US$1,000 and is being sent to a Mexican destination from Canada or the U.S.
  • $2,500 (Canadian dollars) and is being sent to a Canadian destination from Mexico or the U.S.
  • US$2,500 and is being sent to a U.S. destination from Canada or Mexico.


Shipments valued at less than the above amounts do not require a NAFTA Certificate of Origin. Instead, the customer should type the following statement on the shipment's invoice:

"I hereby certify that the good covered by this shipment qualifies as an originating good for purposes of preferential tariff treatment under the NAFTA."

For purposes of obtaining preferential tariff treatment, this document must be completed legibly (print or type) and in full by the exporter, and be in the possession of the importer at the time the declaration is made. This document may also be completed voluntarily by the producer for use by the exporter.

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Where can I access forms for my international shipments?

UPS TradeAbilityTM offers a variety of forms for your international shipments. You can complete some forms online or browse the library of downloadable documents. Supply shipment information once and apply it to multiple forms as needed. The following forms can be completed online:

  • Invoice
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin


To access international forms, go to the CampusShip Resources tab and select Use International Tools. From this page, select Access International Forms. This link takes you to a page where you can download sample forms or complete forms online.

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When do I need a U.S. FDA Food Imports Prior Notice Form?

New U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require more information in order for food imports to clear the U.S. Bureau of Customs, Border Protection and the FDA.

Based on your shipment's Ship From and Ship To addresses, the shipping application may display a link to this form near the bottom of the Complete a Shipment page. Select the link to complete the Complete Prior Notice Form online.

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What is a Shipper's Export Declaration (SED)?

Note: Applies only to shipments from the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is used by the U.S. Census Bureau to compile trade statistics and to help prevent illegal exports. The SED and instructions on how to fill it out are available from UPS CampusShip, UPS.com, and a variety of sources, including the U.S. Government Printing Office (202-512-0000) and the U.S. Census Bureau's home page (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade).

You can select from three filing options for your SED:

  • Print a blank SED, fill it out manually and attach it to your shipment.
  • File your SED through UPS for a USD 10 fee.
  • File online using ACE. To use ACE, exporters must register with ACE (https://ace.cbp.dhs.gov/). See details below in "What is ACE?"

To obtain a blank SED form to complete and attach to your package, select the Resources tab and then Export Documentation.

Note: SEDs are not required for UPS Letter shipments.

An SED is required when the value of a single Schedule B commodity is valued at more than USD 2,500 or for which an export licence or licence exemption is required. It is also required when the destination is a controlled territory. A controlled territory can be a country experiencing strained relations with the U.S. (e.g., Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and North Korea).

For customers using UPS CampusShip for exporting, instructions for setting your SED Preferences are available from UPS CampusShip Help. You can access the instructions by selecting Help directly on the Shipper's Export Declaration Preferences page. To access your SED preferences, select the My Settings tab and go to Edit Shipper´s Export Declaration Preferences.

For customers using UPS CampusShip for exporting, instructions for filing a SED electronically are available from UPS CampusShip Help. You can access the instructions by selecting the Help directly on the Shipper´s Export Declaration page.

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What is a Packing List and How do I Use it?

The Packing List, which details the specific contents of each package, is an optional document you may choose to include in your shipment. It is similar to, but does not replace, the Commercial Invoice, which is used by customs to assess duties and fees. Because the Packing List does not include information about the cost or value of the contents, it can be used in cases where the contents will be forwarded to a third-party, such as a customer or vendor.

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What is ACE?

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) to capture and store U.S. export data electronically. The U.S. Census Bureau provides ACE free of charge to all exporters for electronic filing of Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) data via the ACE Web site.

UPS CampusShip can help you file your SEDs with ACE. To take advantage of this feature, you must register with ACE on line at https://ace.cbp.dhs.gov/. ACE requires that you take a brief tutorial on filing SEDs, so allow adequate time for registering. For more information about ACE, call 1-877-715-4433.

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