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

Learn where to find customs forms when creating labels in Pirate Ship and the kinds of information you need to include

Updated over a week ago
  • International Shipments Require Customs Forms: If you're shipping internationally, you must 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.

  • When You'll Be Prompted to Fill Out Customs Forms: 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.

  • When Using Saved Packages: 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 👍

What's included in Pirate Ship's customs forms?

Below, we've included a screenshot of the customs form you'll see when creating a single label, as well as a description of each section:

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

    • 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 for a long time...and even still get marked as Return to Sender 🙈

  • 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.

    • *Every shipment going to member countries in the European Union (EU) requires Harmonization Numbers to be recorded in the customs data, as per VAT guidelines for the EU.

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

You may get a multi-page customs form!

  • Multi-Page Customs Forms for USPS: 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.

    • Whenever this is the case, you'll want to attach every label to the outside of your package, in the order 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, which you then affix to the package.

  • UPS Commercial Invoices: 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! 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

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

    • Your business name & address

    • The recipient’s name & address

    • The item/quantity/value/description/total

  • Print 3 Copies: 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 as we mentioned above👌

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

  • 8.5x11" Paper for UPS Commercial Invoices: One thing to note about commercial invoices for UPS shipments is that they must be printed on 8.5x11" paper. That means you can't use a 4x6" label printer to print them 🙈

    • UPS considers the 4x6" size too small for their commercial invoices, and might return your package because of it!

  • Use a Standard Desktop Printer: To print 8.5x11" commercial invoices, you'll need to use either a regular desktop printer or another standard printer you can access outside your home or office.

  • Invoices That You Supply Can Be 4x6": 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!

We recommend purchasing insurance for all international shipments

  • Insurance for International Shipments: Lastly, we always highly recommend purchasing shipping insurance for all of your international packages.

Have any questions? Get in touch with ARRrrr Support Crew!

Customs forms can be a real pain in the peg leg, but ARRrrr swashbucklin' Support Crew is here to lend a hook with anything you need, Matey! Click the blue chat icon to get in touch with us - we're always happy to chat!

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