International Shipping & Export Control

Brown’s international shipping must comply with export and import control laws and regulations. When shipping items outside the U.S., you must ensure that what is being shipped does not require an export license. In many instances you may need to provide the correct export classification number or license exception code to the international shipper. Please note that providing incorrect information on international shipping documentation can lead to your shipment being held up or delayed. It can also result in heavy fines and criminal penalties.

How do I know if an export license is required?

Any item that is either listed on the United States Munitions List (USML) or has an export control classification number (ECCN) other than “EAR99” may require an export license depending on destination and proposed end-use. While many items that are used on a daily basis fall within the “EAR99” classification, a number of items that are frequently used in academic research do not. In many instances an export license exception can be used to take these items abroad but it is advisable to involve the University’s Export Control Officer in determining whether an exception applies.

Does Brown have a preferred international shipper?

While you may use any international shipping company, our office recommends using the following companies.

                          For international shipments <250 lbs in weight: FedEx or UPS

                          For international shipments >250 lbs in weight: AIT Worldwide Logistics

AIT Contact: Kevin Kist [kkist@aitworldwide.com]
AIT Phone: 1-800-373-4248

Are you shipping biological or hazardous materials?

If you plan to ship biological or hazardous materials, please contact Brown University’s Office of Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) and follow their procedures for shipping.

What other documentation might I need to provide when shipping internationally?

When shipping internationally, there is other documentation that you may need to provide to the shipper or forms you may be asked to complete. Here are some examples:

Consignee or Importer of Record: the complete name, address, and phone number of the ship to party/company, including country.

Country of Ultimate Destination: final destination country of goods being shipped

Waybill Number: number from a non-negotiable transport document also known as an Airway Bill for shipments by air or a Bill of Lading for shipments using other modes of transport like truck, train or sea.  The waybill is used along with various documents like the pro forma invoice, packing list, etc. for the customs declaration of proof of the freight amount billed for the goods carried.

The waybill will include Incoterms (terms of trade) which define who will be paying for shipping, insurance, import duties and fees. The incoterms should be determined at the time of preparing the proposal to ensure all fees have been included in the budget or discussed with the collaborator in advance of preparing the shipping documents. These terms will need to be listed on either the way bill or the pro forma invoice. When the recipient will pay the shipping and fees, the incoterms are exworks. When you, the sender, will pay the fees and handle the paperwork, the incoterms are DDP. Sometimes, your shipper will ask you to provide the specific terms; other times, the shipper will simply ask who is paying for what.

Acquiring a Waybill:

If using the online system of your expeditor, like FedEx or DHL, the Waybill will be automatically populated.

If using the paper version for an expeditor you will complete a paper copy Waybill and include the Waybill number on your pro forma invoice.

If using a freight forwarder they will provide the Waybill and a Waybill number for you to fill in on your pro forma invoice.

Serial Number: manufacturer’s serial number

Number of Packages: If you have multiple packages in 1 box you would only list 1 box since it is one item shipping. If there are multiple individual items in their own packages list the number. A miscount on the number of packages may trigger customs inspections.

Type of Packaging/Dimensions: Indicate the package type for example: cardboard box, aluminum case or plastic pallet and the dimensions for example 10x10x10.

Description of Goods: provide a concise and detailed description of the goods being shipped.

Country of Origin (COO): country where goods were manufactured, normally marked on the item as “made in”.

Harmonized System Tariff (HS) code: 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.  The HS can be requested from the manufacturer.

Export Control Classification Number (ECCN): 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. This can be requested from the manufacturer or your Export Control Officer as part of their export control licensing determination.

Unit Value/Total Value: unit/total value of the product in US dollars. 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 is for Customs purposes only, item not for sale, for research purposes only.  The value of the item being shipped, must match purchase orders, contracts, or grants they are related to.  Please retain records to prove the value of goods in the event the University is audited by Customs.

The value determines if there are special government filings required in the US prior to the export of the goods. 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 for mis-declaring value.

  • If there are any import or export penalties, the penalties are assessed against the value of the goods.

  • If the item was purchased then the value to be declared should be equal to the PO price or quote.

  • If an item was developed in-house, such as test equipment, the value should equal the cost of goods + labor or the cost of the item if it is sold.

  • If the item is a prototype provided free of charge, the supplier should provide the price of the item if it were to be sold.  

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, so contact Brown’s Export Control Officer.

Automated Export System (AES) filing:  The US government tracks exports through the Automated Export System (AES). The Electronic Export Information (EEI) must be filed through AES for exports valued over $2500 (per HS or Schedule B code) or if an export license is required, whether the items are shipped or hand carried. A schedule B number is a US specific number that may be similar to the HS code and is used for AES filings. If 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 through an expediter online system.

When no EEI is required, the following low value exemption statement needs to be noted on the invoice: “30.37 (a) No EEI required - no individual Schedule B or HS number valued over $2,500”

Shipper's Letter of Instruction (SLI): used in the process of transporting goods that have special handling requirements. It can be included as part of an Air waybill or bill of lading.

Carnets: commonly known as “Merchandise Passports”, are international customs documents that simplify customs procedures for the temporary importation of various types of goods that will return to the US within one year to countries that accept carnets. They aid in eliminating payment of duties and value-added taxes (minimum 20% in Europe, 27% in China).  

Certificate of Origin: is a document used to declare where the items were produced, manufactured or assembled. It is a legal requirement for certain items to qualify under Free Trade Agreements (FTA) (e.g. NAFTA, US Israel FTA, etc.) It is completed by the exporter.  A local Chamber of Commerce can certify certificates of origin when provided with a commercial invoice.

Questions about international shipping?

Please contact Juliane Blyth or Rebecca Haworth in the Office of Research Integrity.