International freight shipping is a complicated process that calls for the services of an international freight forwarder. International freight shipping requires specific documentation and goes through several customs checks. A freight forwarder organizes the carriage of your international shipment, helps handle and process paperwork, and ensures that your shipment arrives at the correct place on time.

While a freight forwarder should walk you through the complicated process of shipping internationally, being well informed on the international freight shipping process will help you understand and aid your freight forwarding company.

International Freight Shipping Documentation

Having proper documentation is essential for your international freight to arrive on time. It’s especially necessary when truck transportation carriers are involved. Most delays are caused by missing or incorrect documents, so make sure you know exactly what you should have prepared.

Although the exact documents needed depend on your origin and destination countries, the commodity being shipped, and your freight’s value, there are a few documents you should be familiar with:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • US Certificate of Origin
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin
  • US Shipper’s Export Declaration

You should also understand the exact route your freight will take to its destination. Know when and where transfers occur and whether your shipment will travel by air, rail, truck, or ship.

Relay information you receive from your freight forwarder with your international consignee. Your freight forwarder should facilitate communications between you, carriers and customs agents. Remember, communication and knowledge will help your international shipment make it to its destination on time.


The following two tabs change content below.

Jim Bramlett

General Manager, LTL Freight at uShip
Jim brings over 36 years of logistics and transportation leadership experience to uShip, where he is general manager of LTL freight. In his role, Jim leads uShip’s strategy development, deployment and sales initiatives to connect LTL carriers directly with shippers through the efficient uShip platform. Before joining uShip, Jim was COO of SmartFreightWare, a transportation management software (TMS) developer. At SmartFreightWare, Jim was responsible for implementing solutions that delivered efficiency for shippers to eliminate time and costs. Jim spent 12 years with Yellow Freight System where he was responsible for developing new services, leading the development of their international services and managing customer segmentation. Jim successfully helped transition Yellow from a pure LTL company to one offering expedited and guaranteed services. Jim has seven years of experience leading third-party logistics companies including Yellow Logistics Services and later founded, an early adopter of the Internet as a platform to engage customers and providers.

Latest posts by Jim Bramlett (see all)