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Prepare & Deliver the Goods

Export goods must arrive intact, in good condition, and on time. Competition dictates fast, least-cost delivery as well. To assure this result, the goods must be properly packed, labeled, insured and shipped. Some of this preparation is precautionary -- to protect the goods from damage, theft, or delay in transit. Some actions are legally required, either by the exporting or importing country. In these cases, the requirements are usually very specific and must be followed to the letter. Given the complexities and risks, most exporters use an international freight forwarder to perform these critical services.

Exporting Basics and other export guides cover export delivery issues in some detail, including:

Packing for export. Exported goods face greater physical risks en route than domestic shipments. They're more vulnerable to breakage, theft, and damage. See Exporting Basics, freight forwarders, carriers and marine insurance companies for packaging tips. If you're not equipped to pack the goods yourself, use a professional export packing firm. This service is usually provided at a moderate cost.

Export marking and labeling. Export packages need to be properly marked and labeled to meet shipping regulations, ensure proper handling, conceal the identity of the contents, and help receivers identify shipments. The buyer usually specifies export marks that should appear on the cargo, either preferred or required by the importing country.  See Exporting Basics for tips on marking and labeling. Country-specific sources include US, Canada Labeling Assessment Tools, Mexico and CE Marking (EU)

Transport Options. The sooner the goods arrive, the sooner you get paid, so speed is essential. However, faster transport may cost more. The procedures, routes and rates vary with the transport mode -- truck, rail, air or sea. It’s best to use international freight forwarders to ship the goods. They're the experts. They can compare the costs, lead times, and transit times for each transport option; select the best one; and make the booking. See Exporting Basics and other export guides for more information about export transport and logistics. Other Internet sources of transport and logistics services include:

  • Directory of Freight Forwarding Services
  • A to Z Worldwide Gateway
  • FreightWorld
  • Container Shipping
  • Internet Shipbrokers
  • U.S.-flag Carriers
  • International Shipping Lines
  • Directory of Seaports in the Americas
  • Port Authorities around the Globe

Cargo insurance. Cargo insurance offers important protection against delays in transit and losses or damage from bad weather, rough handling by carriers, and other common hazards. Either the supplier or the buyer is at risk for the cargo in transit, depending on the terms of sale. For all CIF transactions, the supplier is liable for any loss or damage to the goods up to the point the buyer takes title. For FOB or FAS sales, the buyer assumes risk at the exit point. The responsible party must insure the cargo for its portion of the risk.

To cover your share of the risk, you can take out a company policy, or insure the cargo under a freight forwarder's policy for a fee. Check with a marine insurance company or freight forwarder for options and advice.


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