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International Shipping

International Shipping/Carry-on Review Form *NEW!

International Shipping Review Form - Instructions *NEW!

To help ensure that UC faculty, staff, and students do not experience customs delays, seizure of goods, or inadvertent violation of federal export laws the below describes the basic requirements for international shipping and hand carry of items abroad. Incorrect shipping paperwork can lead to delays in shipments, lost time and lost opportunity. Failure to obtain an export license when required could result in fines of $250,000 to $1million per violation and prison time for criminal convictions. False export declarations fines are $10,000. Customs fines vary by country and can also include seizure or detention of goods. Before shipping internationally, contact Danielle Dai'Re in the Office of Research Compliance & Integrity at for assistance in determining whether an export license is required, securing a license when needed, and advice on what records need to be maintained in cases where the item can be shipped without a license. For more information view the UCOP international shipping decision tree .

Also, exporters are advised to contact their collaborator to inquire regarding the import requirements for the destination country. Imports may be stopped by Customs officials in the importing country if the proper import licenses are not included in the paperwork. Import requirements vary greatly by country.

US government export regulations described below are in addition to any other regulations regarding select agents, dangerous goods transportation or other controls related to the specific item being transported abroad.

The following are legal requirements for all international shipments:

  • Embargoed Countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan are countries with strict import and export license requirements. If you have a collaborator, or will be sending or receiving items from one of these countries, contact your Export Control lead regarding license requirements.
  • Restricted Party Screening: The US government maintains various lists of individuals and entities that US organizations are prohibited from collaborating with or shipping to, and require an export license for any shipment to a restricted party. Please contact the Export Control Officer for assistance with screenings or export license applications.
  • Export License Review and Declarations: US export regulations may require an export license or license exception based on the item (including technical data), shipping destination, value, or end user. Automated Export System (AES) filing for shipments valued over $2500 or those that require an export license are required under the Foreign Trade Regulations. The Export Control Officer can review and advise on available license exceptions.

**For shipping hazardous or biohazardous materials in or out of the United States, please contact Environmental Health & Safety. Additonally, the University of California has contracted with American Cargo Service, Inc. who will be able to provide freight forwarding and customs brokerage services. 


  • Export classification can be either an ECCN (Export Control Classification Number alphanumeric code) or ITAR Category (Roman numeral). These are US specific, determined based on technical listings in export regulations. Based on the export classification, an export license or license exception may be required based on ship to the entity, end user or country destination.
  • HS code or the Harmonized System Tariff code is the internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying traded products. It is a 6-10 digit number. The USHTS is the US version of the Tariff Code. Improper classification can lead to duties (taxes) or fines
  • In order to provide the most accurate classification an adequate description or part number is required. The HS code and export classification can also be requested from the manufacturer.


The World Trade Organization and Customs in each country require accurate valuation of the goods. No country accepts a zero dollar value. The minimum value that can be declared is $1. If the item is not being sold the invoice should indicate the value for Customs purposes only, item not for sale, for research purposes only.

Why is the valuation declaration important?

The Value determines if there are special government filings required in the US prior to the export of the goods (AES EEI). Declared invoice value is the basis for any applicable duty or taxes/fees that are due in the ship-to country. Customs knows what the typical value is for goods; a low value can be a red flag. If there are any import or export penalties, the penalties are assessed against the value of the goods.

  • Valuation for Purchased goods: If the item was purchased then the value to be declared should be equal to the PO price or quote.
  • Valuation for In-house developed item, i.e. test equipment: The value should = the cost of goods + labor.
  • Valuation for Prototypes provided free of charge; the supplier should provide the price of the item if it were to be sold.

Pro Forma Invoice Requirements

A pro forma invoice is required for all exports. You may also see this referred to as a commercial invoice (CI). Even though you are not selling the item you are shipping, if it is not a personally owned item, you need a pro forma invoice. A pro forma invoice may be automatically generated if you are using an online expediter system (such as FedEx or UPS). If you are using an expediter paper system then you will need to create your own commercial invoice and include it in your package and keep a copy in your shipping records.

Information required (all items in the shipment must be declared on the invoice)

  • The date that the invoice is created
  • A unique invoice number
  • The complete name and address including country of the ship from and ship to party/company these are also known as the Exporter of Record / Shipper and the Importer of Record / Consignee
  • A complete and concise description of the goods shipping
    • Example, do not indicate “Cells”, you need to indicate what kind of cells”
    • Example Wrong: cells; Right: – human liver cells
  • The country of origin (manufacture) of the item
  • Quantity: Accurate number of each piece shipping
  • Weight listed in kilograms
  • Value of Product: Unit price and Extended total price
  • The total invoice amount
  • The diversion statement “These commodities, technology, or software were exported from the United States in accordance with the Export Administration Regulations. Diversion contrary to U.S. law is prohibited.” If your items are being exported under an ITAR export license a different diversion statement is required, consult with your Export Control lead.
  • When no EEI is required, the following statement needs to be noted on the invoice: “ No EEI required - no individual Schedule B number valued over $2,500”


Automated Export System (AES) Electronic Export Information (EEI) must be filed for exports valued over $2500 (per HS code) or if an export license is required whether it is shipped or hand carried, an EEI is required, the AES ITN (proof of filing transaction number) must be listed on the airway bill. The export declaration EEI can be filed through a UC authorized freight forwarder or transport carrier.

Tools of the Trade

There is an exemption for filing in AES when exporting a Tool of the Trade for temporary export. This typically applies to items you are hand carrying.

To qualify for the “tool of trade” exception, the export must:

  • Be for less than one year.
  • Be a piece of equipment that people in the traveler’s discipline would generally recognize as a “tool of the trade.”
  • Be under the traveler’s effective control. This means that the item must be kept in the traveler’s physical possession at all times, or secured in a hotel safe, a bonded warehouse, or a locked conference facility.
  • The travel cannot include a sanctioned country (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan).

Travelers should not take ANY of the following without first obtaining specific advice:

  • Data or information received under an obligation of confidentiality.
  • Devices, equipment or computer software received with restrictions on export to or on access by foreign nationals.
  • Devices, systems or software specifically designed or modified for military or space applications (even if these items are used in an academic research setting).


All shipping records including pro forma invoice, airway bill, export filings and associated communications are required to be maintained for a period of 5 years from the date of the export. Request a copy of relevant documents from your shipper or print them when using an online application. Your shipper (such as DHL, FedEx or UPS) will not keep copies of shipping records for you.