Exporting Documents When Shipping Apparel from the USA

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This is in regard to exporting apparel from the United States.

What documents are needed for exporting clothing and fashion accessories?

Requirements vary by destination and product.  The information provided here by Apparel Search is for reference only and is NOT a specific solution for your exporting needs.  We strongly suggest you consult with a professional customs broker regarding your specific project.

Common Export Documents

  • Commercial Invoice - A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties. Governments that use the commercial invoice to control imports will often specify its form, content, number of copies, language to be used, and other characteristics. 

You may need a pro forma invoice which is an invoice prepared by the exporter before shipping the goods, informing the buyer of the goods to be sent, their value, and other key specifications. It also can be used as an offering of sale or price quotation.
  • Export Packing List - Considerably more detailed and informative than a standard domestic packing list, an export packing list lists seller, buyer, shipper, invoice number, date of shipment, mode of transport, carrier, and itemizes quantity, description, the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton, the quantity of packages, total net and gross weight (in kilograms), package marks, and dimensions, if appropriate. Both commercial stationers and freight forwarders carry packing list forms. A packing list may serve as conforming document. It is not a substitute for a commercial invoice. In addition, U.S. and foreign customs officials may use the export packing list to check the cargo.

  • EEI (Electronic Export Information; formerly called a Shippers Export Declaration) 

  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill

  • Certificate of Origin -  The Certificate of Origin (CO) is required by some countries for all or only certain products. In many cases, a statement of origin printed on company letterhead will suffice. The exporter should verify whether a CO is required with the buyer and/or an experienced shipper/freight forwarder or the Trade Information Center.

Note: when shipping to Canada you may need a Canadian Customs Invoice.

You will want to visit the export.gov website for more information about Export Compliance Documents.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for ensuring that all goods entering and exiting the United States do so in accordance with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. Although CBP enforces these export regulations for various other government agencies, specific questions pertaining to commodity licensing requirements should be directed to that lead agency.

Agency information, telephone numbers, and basic commodities which may require export licenses can be obtained by viewing either the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Foreign Assets Control or the Bureau of the Census websites. These sites include information from numerous other agencies with export control responsibilities.

Further guidance regarding export licenses should be directed to the CBP port of export location used to export your goods.

Helpful resources for exporting clothing:

Export.gov : helping U.S. Companies export.  95% of the world's consumers live in other countries and the benefits of exporting are enormous. Learn how to export in their Export Basics section or register to access market research and trade leads. Trade Specialists are also available in your area to help plan your international business. Call 1-800- USA-TRAD(E) to find a trade specialist and get answers to your export questions.

Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) Address: U.S. Department of Commerce Washington, DC 20230 Phone: (202) 482-5078 | Fax: (202) 482-2331 OTEXA@trade.gov

Check for the most current information regarding documentation for exporting apparel from the U.S Customs and Border Protection website. http://www.cbp.gov/

Posted February 2014 - Please check the government website for most current rules and regulations.

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