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How do I fill out a customs form?
How do I fill out a customs form?

Where to find customs forms in Pirate Ship and how they work

Updated over a week ago

If you're shipping internationally, you'll be required to fill out a customs form. Countries use customs forms to decide whether your recipient will need to pay import taxes or duties on declared items, so it's important to be honest. Here's more information on customs duties

Pirate Ship automatically requires you to fill out the form when a country other than the United States is selected. This is also true for Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, US Minor Outlying Islands, FPO & APO Military Addresses, depending on the weights. For packages under 1 pound, you may not be prompted to fill out a customs form for the locations listed above.

If you're using a Saved Package, you'll have to click Modify Package to fill out the customs form. We recommend pre-filling customs forms for your Saved Packages so you don't have to do this every time 👍

The customs form looks like this: 

Sign Customs Form As
Put either your name or your business's legal entity in the "Sign Customs Form As" field. You do not need to physically sign the customs form after printing it, since this field is filled out.

Package Content Type
Select from the dropdown whether you're shipping Merchandise, Documents, or a Gift.

Content Description
If you're shipping a package with multiple items, you can click Add Line Item to add rows. For example, if you're shipping one bottle of grog, two eyepatches, and ten pirate flags, you'd need three separate Line Items.

For each description line, be as detailed possible! For instance, if you're shipping a 13-inch MacBook Pro, don't just write "Laptop" - write "13-inch MacBook Pro" 😉 If your customs form isn't detailed enough, your package could be subject to a Return to Sender. The more detailed you can be, the better!

Entering the correct Item Value is also crucial to your package being accepted by your destination country's customs department. If you under-represent the value of your item(s), your package could be held up in customs a long time...and even still get marked as Return to Sender 🙈

All in all, the best way to avoid returned packages and extended delays is to be as accurate and detailed as possible in every field of the Content Description section.

Enter TOTALS for Qty, Value, and Weight
For each line item, add the total quantity of that item, a brief description of the item, the total value of all the items in this line, and the total weight of all the items in this line. For example, if you're shipping ten pirate flags worth $10 each, enter a quantity of 10, a value of $100, and the total weight of all 10 items.  

You can include a maximum of 15 line items in a customs form.

Harmonization Codes
Harmonization Codes aren't required for most countries*, but they're helpful for customs agents in foreign countries who don't speak English. You can click the blue Search #'s link to find the correct code to use for your item. You can only enter one code per line item.

*As of July 1st, every shipment going to member countries in the European Union (EU) requires Harmonization Numbers to be recorded in the customs data, as per the new VAT guidelines for the EU.


Country of Origin means the country where the product originated, e.g. were produced, manufactured, or assembled... not where you're shipping from!

You may get a multi-page customs form!

Most international USPS® shipments will generate a single customs form that's integrated with the shipping label, so there will only be one page. However, some international services do require multiple pages, and whenever that is the case, you'll want to attach every label to the outside of your package, in the order that they are printed. We recommend using the free customs form envelopes you can order from USPS here. You can also place them in a letter envelope with the phrase "Customs Forms" written on it, that you then affix to the package.

When you print an international UPS® label, you may notice the label itself prints out along with multiple identical copies of an invoice (usually three). Those invoices will all look almost exactly the same, but do not discard any of these! You need to affix all 3 to the outside of the package!

Once you've printed your international UPS label and those 3 invoices, affix your label on your box or envelope and be sure to place the commercial invoices in a clear ziplock bag that you label with the phrase “Commercial Invoices" on it. Lastly, affix that ziplock to the outside of your package, and you're all set!

Pro Tip: If you don't have a ziplock, UPS also offers clear pouches you can order for free and stick these Commercial Invoices inside of 😉

For UPS shipments, you can use invoices or receipts from your store or eCommerce platform

For shipments with UPS, you can supply your own invoices or receipts from your store, eCommerce platform, or marketplace! In order for UPS to consider these as commercial invoices, they just need to have the following info on them:

  • Your business name & address

  • The recipient’s name & address

  • The item/quantity/value/description/total

If you want to go this route, just print 3 copies of them and attach them in a ziplock bag or in the UPS pouch like we mentioned above👌

UPS Commercial Invoices must be 8.5x11" (unless you provide your own)

One thing to note about commercial invoices for UPS shipments is that they have to be printed on 8.5x11" paper. That means you can't use a 4x6" label printer to print them 🙈 UPS considers that size too small for their commercial invoices, and might return your package because of it!

To print 8.5x11" commercial invoices, you'll need to use either a regular desktop printer, or another standard printer you can access outside of your home or office. Alternatively, you can still supply your own invoices from your store, eCommerce platform, or marketplace...and those can be 4x6".

If you don't have access to an 8.5x11" printer and can't supply your own invoices, chat with us and we'll do our best to steer you to clearer waters!

Lastly, we always highly recommend adding insurance to all of your international shipments. Here's more on that.

Let us know if you need any help, we're always happy to chat!

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