Global delivery Featured

6:40am EDT December 17, 2003
Shipping and transportation logistics have changed drastically in the past decade.

I recall trying to send shipments to large cities in China and Russia in the early '90s and being told, "We don't go there" or having packages arrive months later -- or even disappear completely. Today, packages of any size can be delivered in a timely manner from anywhere to virtually anywhere, often for far less money than in the recent past.

Here are five areas to consider when shipping internationally.

Wrong or no markings

Each country has different marking requirements. Some are certification seals (CE Mark) or markings in metric and in the language of the country where it is going.

For product coming into the United States, most must have labels indicating the country of origin, for example.

Packaging

Oceangoing shipments must be packaged differently than those traveling by rail or truck. The shipping container might be exposed to the elements such as saltwater and/or extreme heat or cold.

Use more packaging materials to protect your shipment than you would use for domestic door-to-door truck shipments.

Tariff classifications

Harmonization of tariffs has made it easier to determine what rate of tax will be due on your shipment. Still, there are many categories that products can be classified as.

Work with your logistics service provider to determine the optimal shipping format and classification number. This can be important, as some items come into this country with few restrictions, while other products can be taxed at 20 percent or more.

Transport terminology

What is the difference among EXW, FOB and DDP? Each is a term that designates who pays for what in an international shipment, including duties.

As with tariff classification, negotiate these terms and have them spelled out before the shipment is sent.

Give shipments extra time

The more hands on the shipment and the more time in transit, the more likely there will be delays. Although far more reliable than a generation ago, international shipments can get delayed due to strikes, weather, customs, paperwork or myriad other reasons. David Levey (jdl@interax.com) is an adjunct professor of Global Management in the MBA program at John Carroll University. He is the former manager of the Cleveland World Trade Association, the international business education arm of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association.