The USA is among the biggest markets in the world. That makes it the ultimate export destination for many British businesses. But quite apart from entering the market, one of the difficulties some businesses face is logistics. So, what do you need to know about sending airfreight to the USA? And How can Plexus Freight help?
Everything You Need to Know About Sending Airfreight to the USA
What you can and can’t send
As with all countries, the USA has a list of restricted goods that you cannot bring into the country without a license. And prohibited goods that you cannot export there at all. The list is lengthy, so it’s a good idea to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Control website before you begin the marketing process. But to give you a rough idea, prohibited goods include:
- Biological materials
- Cultural artifacts and property
- Defence articles and fire arms
- Dog and cat fur
- And narcotics and drug paraphernalia.
In addition to these items, it’s important to be aware that some goods can’t be shipped via air freight. Items such as lithium batteries, explosives, compressed gases, biohazards, and magnetic items without degaussing packaging, will be prohibited by most airlines.
Find the right carrier
While many companies offer logistics services to the USA, not all of them are equal. So, before you book, check what’s involved. Are you guaranteed a door-to-door service? Is your cargo trackable? Are there a range of different service types available to suit your budget? Does the carrier offer a freight forwarding service, so you don’t have to stress over paperwork? Does the carrier have a good reputation? Finding the right logistics partner can transform your exporting experience.
Get your paperwork in order
All export markets require a specific collection of documents. When you are intending to ship goods to the USA, you will need to ensure that you have the following paperwork in order.
US customs invoice
This is more or less an ID card for your cargo. Intended to help identify the type and value of goods you are shipping, as well as documenting your identification, every shipment must have an accurate customs invoice. It must be completed with the correct commodity code and a complete description of the goods you are moving. Without this, your goods will not be allowed to leave the UK, much less enter America. A good freight forwarder should be able to help you with this if you are at all unsure.
Inward cargo manifest
This is essentially an itemised list of everything you’re shipping. It enables the carrier – including the airline – to ensure that all goods are compatible with your chosen mode of transport. And can help with customs clearance. All cargo manifests should have a unique reference number specific to each individual shipment. Your manifest should also mention the type of package being shipped. Shipping details. Your details. And your buyers/recipient’s details.
On the surface, a packing list may seem the same as a cargo manifest. However, its role is to provide all relevant parties – the exporter, the freight forwarder, and consignee – with all the information they need to know about your shipment. This can include the packing details, the goods and model numbers, weights, dimensions, and the marks and numbers noted on the outside of the boxes.
A commercial invoice is a legal requirement for all exports. It is designed to provide information about the value of the goods being shipped. It can help with customs clearance. But its main job is to ensure that you are paid the right amount.
Bill of lading
The purpose of a bill of lading is to document the goods being shipped, to act as a receipt for the transfer of goods to and from the carrier, and to record the terms of service.
Get your packaging right
Poor packaging leads to so much loss when you’re moving goods. When you’re exporting via air, your goods need to be handled multiple times. And every touchpoint holds the potential for damage, no matter how careful your logistics partner might be. And if packaging fails, your goods may be damaged, lost, delayed, or all three. So, taking precautions to ensure that your goods are properly protected and secured, pays dividends in the long run.
Don’t forget insurance
While your carrier will have insurance, it won’t cover the full value of your goods. And it won’t cover all eventualities – including mistakes made by you, such as poor packaging. So, before you decide to cut costs and skimp on your insurance, find out what it covers. That way, you can make an informed decision.
The American market holds a lot of potential for British exporters. But if you want to make the most of that potential, you need to be organised. It’s important to understand the legalities, and to get your paperwork in order. You need to pay attention to your packaging. And take your time to find the best logistics partner for your business.
Get in touch with Plexus Freight to discuss your logistics needs.