Information about domestic and international label differences, an overview of customs forms, and instructions for adding customs information in ShipStation.
The difference is the type of label that is printed and if any additional forms are necessary, like Customs Declarations, Commercial Invoices, or Certificates of Origin. Whether any additional forms are required will depend on which carrier you are using to ship the package, where it is going, and the value of the goods it contains.
Fortunately, you won't need to worry about making these decisions in most cases, since ShipStation takes care of it all for you! ShipStation sends all the shipment and customs details to the postage provider when you create the label. The provider then determines which form must be used and automatically sends back the correct form (or electronically submits the correct form).
Customs Forms & Commercial Invoices Do Not Auto-Print
For postage providers that return forms that require printing, these forms will not automatically print when you print the label. You must print them separately.
Configuring an international shipment in ShipStation works the same way as a domestic shipment:
Select the service and package type.
Set the weight.
Set the dimensions.
Set any shipping additional options (insurance, confirmation, etc).
When the Ship To address indicates the order will ship to a country other than your ShipStation account's home country, ShipStation will automatically recognize this as an international shipment and a few things will occur:
ShipStation will only show you your connected carriers' international service options in the Services drop-down menu.
This ensures you don't accidentally choose a service that is only valid for domestic shipments.
ShipStation will create customs declarations on the shipment.
The declaration lists the items in the shipment along with the item description, quantity, and value.
ShipStation will provide a place to add VAT and other Tax ID numbers to include on the commercial invoice.
Finally, when you create the label for the international shipment, ShipStation sends all the necessary details to the carrier and the carrier automatically sends back the proper international label and, in most cases, any additional forms you'll need to include with the shipment.
USPS labels include the customs declarations on the label and no additional forms need to be printed from ShipStation.
Some international services that appear in the Services drop-down menu will not be valid for all international shipments. Services will often have restrictions based on size, weight, Ship To or Ship From address, and other factors. ShipStation will alert you if you attempt to get a rate or create a label using an invalid service for your shipment.
Check with your provider for details if you are unsure which service you should use for different types of shipments.
Some countries do not use postal codes, but some carriers will not return a rate to ShipStation unless there is a value in the postal code field. While this is rare, if you have a shipment to a country with no postal code and are unable to get a rate in ShipStation, enter 00000 into the Ship To Postal Code field so you can get a rate and create a label successfully.
Some carriers have character limits for their Ship To address fields and international addresses can often exceed these character limits. If this occurs, you can edit the Ship To address and split the address across multiple address lines to successfully create the label.
Many carrier label APIs do not support non-Roman characters. Therefore, international addresses that use non-Roman characters (like Kanji or Cyrillic) may not print correctly on the label. If you see ??? where the address should be, copy the address into Google Translate to translate the characters into English. Paste the translation into ShipStation and then create the label.
A Customs Form declares all the items contained within a shipment when that shipment crosses international borders. Customs agencies require customs forms to help them regulate the flow of goods in and out of each country.
The most common types of customs form are the CN22, CN23, and CP72. These are the forms you would typically get from your local post office.
If shipping with USPS:
The CN22 form is called PS Form 2976. It is required for all First Class international shipments valued less than $400.
The CP72 form is called PS Form 2976-A. It is required for all Priority Mail international shipments or shipments valued over $400.
USPS customs declarations are printed directly on the label. There are no additional forms to print through ShipStation. Depending on which service you've selected, you may receive several copies of the label. When this occurs, affix a USPS clear label holder to the package and insert all copies of the label into the envelope.
Private carriers, like FedEx, UPS, or DHL Express, include customs declarations on a Commercial Invoice. A commercial invoice is the official transaction record between a shipper and a recipient and is often used by customs offices in the same way as CN22/23 and CP72 forms.
Customs forms typically include the following information:
All of these details can be added to your international orders in ShipStation. ShipStation then sends the details to the carrier when you create the label.
ShipStation provides the ability to print any forms returned by the postage providers that send them, and will also electronically submit customs forms for FedEx, DHL Express, and UPS (for international UPS shipments, you must contact UPS to enable this feature before ShipStation can submit forms electronically).
Printed Commercial Invoices Required for UPS from ShipStation Carrier Services International Shipments
For international shipments for UPS from ShipStation, you must print 3 physical copies of the commercial invoice and include them with your shipment. Electronic submission for commercial invoices is not yet available.
Review the Print Customs Forms article for details on how to print these forms, when available.
ShipStation automatically adds customs declarations to orders with international shipping addresses and submits these details to the carrier when you click the Create Label button. You will need to enter your VAT and other Tax ID numbers into ShipStation for them to be included in the shipment details.
The information that appears in the customs declarations is determined by ShipStation's International Settings. By default, the information added to the customs declarations is based on the product information included in each order.
Review the International Settings article for details about these settings and how to use them.
Review the Customs Declarations article for details about viewing and editing customs declarations on your orders
Review our Automation Rule Examples article for details on how to automatically add your Tax ID numbers to an order.