Are you an IT solutions salesperson? Ship hardware to 174 countries. Learn more

Credit: Tom Barrett // Unsplash

How Is Shipping Internationally Different Than Shipping Domestically?

Shipping internationally has a set of unique considerations that make it more complex than shipping domestically. These considerations are even more complex when factoring in the need to ship high regulated commodities like IT equipment.

Generally speaking, shipping internationally is more difficult than shipping domestically. There are a number of unique considerations:

  • Business Entity Status: One of the biggest considerations when shipping internationally is whether you have a business entity in the end destination that can / is willing to act as the Importer of Record. In some markets, this business entity will also need special import permissions for certain high-value commodities–like IT hardware.
  • Importer of Record: The Importer of Record is the business entity listed on import documentation for customs clearance purposes. If you have an eligible entity in the destination country, it can act as the Importer of Record, or you can hire a third-party Importer of Record provider.
  • Duties & Taxes: Your bill of materials can be classified into HS codes. These codes have applicable duties and taxes based on where you’re looking to ship. The duties and taxes may be subject to additional stipulations. For example, local entities may value your equipment based on MSRP and not necessarily the value at which you purchased the hardware.
  • Insurance: If you are shipping high-value commodities like IT equipment, you will need to obtain insurance with blanket global coverage. Having a partner that can provide such insurance is crucial, especially when shipping expensive commodities.
  • Incoterms: Shipping internationally has its own jargon and commercial terms. Knowing when and which incoterm to use is important in the customs clearance process.
  • Product Compliance: Not all goods eligible for use in the origin country are eligible for use in the destination country. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to make sure that the goods are eligible for use in the destination country.
  • Packing: Different countries have different requirements for packaging your equipment, down to which materials you can use. Additionally, it’s important to package IT hardware so that it is properly secured and temperature regulated. This is instrumental in getting your equipment to its end destination in working condition.
  • Customs Clearance: Managing the above stipulations properly will help ensure that your equipment clears customs. However, shipments get stuck in customs all the time. Having someone knowledgeable in the retrieval process can be instrumental in saving money and getting your equipment shipped in your desired timeline.

What Does It Take To Ship Internationally?

Shipping domestically typically only entails finding a logistics provider that can transport your equipment quickly and cost efficiently.

Most international shipments, regardless of the end destination, will require some combination of:

  • Ensuring your equipment meets compliance requirements set by the local entity
  • Producing master airway bills or bills of lading to ensure the correct information is transferred throughout the shipping process
  • Declaration of ECCN and HSN numbers
  • Importer of Record services or a local entity
  • Knowledge of the customs process in your end destination
  • Final-mile delivery at the end destination
  • Smart hands instillation in your office, data center, or other end destination 

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the above items, you should hire a professional to manage the process for you.

Importer of Record

When shipping internationally you will likely need an Importer of Record (IOR).

The Importer of Record, generally speaking, is the business entity that is listed on import documentation for customs clearance purposes. If you have an eligible entity in the destination country, it can act as the Importer of Record, or you can hire a third party Importer of Record provider.

Businesses with a local entity with import registration in their end destination can act as their own Importer of Record. If you are eligible to act as the IOR, FGX will even help you do so and instruct you on how to reclaim your VAT after the fact. IOR services allow us to make the shipping experience more seamless by providing an import entity on our clients’ behalf.

Customs Clearance

If you’ve never shipped IT equipment internationally we highly encourage you to use a provider to ensure that the proper procedures are followed.

All countries have a local entity that sets regulations based on HS codes, new vs. used equipment, and controlled commodities. The shipment must be accompanied by all the proper documentation before it reaches customs to ensure customs clearance.

Improper permits, documentation, or HSN classifications can result in the equipment being seized in customs and can take weeks to months to get back. Even if you do everything right, customs may still seize your equipment or subject it to a longer approval process, making it extra important that you have a provider that can help you navigate the retrieval process (or better yet, to avoid that happening in the first place).


If you are unsure of the difference between shipping internationally and domestically you should 100% utilize a logistics service for your international shipment.

International shipments are complex and there are a lot of moving components. 

Have an international IT equipment shipment now? Contact Us.