International Shipping

Before Shipping

The University does not have a centralized shipping center for international or domestic shipments, but there are certain regulatory requirements depending on what the item is and where it is going.

To help ensure that UC faculty, staff, and students do not experience customs delays, seizure of goods, or inadvertent violation of federal export laws, please, contact the Export Control Officer (ECO) for further assistance. The ECO will help determine whether an export license is required.

1. Are you shipping or hand carrying the item(s) to an embargoed country?

Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria 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 the Export Control Officer regarding license requirements.

See here for more information on OFAC.

2. Has the Restricted Party Screening been conducted?

The U.S. government maintains a number of lists of federally sanctioned, debarred or restricted persons and organizations. Please contact the Export Control Officer for assistance with screenings and to determine if a license is required.

See here for more information on Restricted Entities.

3. Has a Classification been assigned?

Export classification can be either an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) or ITAR Category. 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 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. Is your item on the list of potentially Controlled Items?

4. What is the Valuation?

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 and “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 - Automated Export System (AES) Electronic Export Information (EEI). AES EEI must be filed for exports valued over $2500 (per HS code) or if an export license is required regardless of whether it is shipped or hand carried. See Tools of the Trade for an exemption. 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 transport carrier. 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 be 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.
5. Finally, is an Export License Review required, or are there 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. 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.

Additional Considerations

A pro forma invoice is required for all exports. You may also see this referred to as a commercial invoice (CI). Although you are not selling the item you are shipping, you will need a pro forma invoice if it is not a personally owned item. 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 pro forma invoice, include it in your package, and keep a copy in your shipping records.

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. 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 transport carrier. See “Tools of Trade” for exceptions.

The University of California has a Systemwide Agreement for Customs Brokerage & International Freight Forwarding Services with American Cargo Services (ACS) to clear import and export shipments through U.S. Customs and provide freight-forwarding services.

American Cargo Services, Inc
Local: (858) 565-4125
Toll free: (800) 508-4888

In general, an EEI must be filed with shipments from the U.S. to foreign destinations if any of the following applies:

  • Shipment of a single item valued at more than $2,500. (Note: Shipments to Canada from the U.S. are exempt from this requirement.)
  • A defense article controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
  • Includes dual-use or commercial items that is enumerated in paragraph a. through x. of a “600 series”
  • Exported under a BIS license or license exception
  • Destined to a country in Country Group E1 (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria)

An EEI filing is required for shipments to China, Russia, and Venezuela for:

  • All shipments of a single item or merchandise valued at more than $2,500, even if an export license is not required.
  • Shipments, regardless of value or content, intended for military end-use.
  • Shipments of all ECCN items listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL), regardless of value or whether an export license is required.  BIS regulations exclude documents and EAR99 items of less than $2,500 in value.

For researchers working with biological items, there are a number of items that will require export licenses prior to being shipped outside the U.S. These include attenuated forms of bacteria, toxins, virus, and fungi or animals or material containing those items that are on the Export-Restricted Biologicals and Select Agents list.

There are many items that are not select agents, but do require export licenses as it falls under the controlled category for genetic elements and/or genetically modified organisms. Contact export control if you plan to ship any items on this list so we can file the required export licenses. Please note that this may take 6 weeks or longer to obtain.

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.


For every export, there is an import to the receiving country.

You are advised to contact your collaborator in order to comply with applicable import requirements to the destination country. Import requirements vary greatly by country, and your item(s) may be stopped by Customs officials in the importing country if the proper licenses are not included in the paperwork.