Export Control: International Shipping

This guide describes the basic requirements for international shipping and hand carry of items abroad, to help ensure that UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students do not experience customs delays, seizure of goods, or inadvertent violation of federal export laws. Incorrect shipping paperwork can lead to delays in shipments, lost time and lost opportunity.

The shipment of scientific equipment, technology or other export controlled items from the U.S. to a foreign national or to a foreign country could require an export license depending on the item, destination location, recipient or end-user, and the end-use.

Before shipping internationally, contact the Export Control Officer for assistance in:

  • Determining whether an export license is required
  • Securing a license
  • Shipping the item


Transfer of commodities and equipment is only controlled by the export regulations when the item is shipped out of the country. Every international shipment is an export and is subject to U.S. export control law. Licenses to ship an item outside the United States may be required even when the item or equipment is used in or results from fundamental research. These regulations apply to all shipments outside the U.S.

U.S. government export regulations described below are in addition to any other regulations regarding select agents, dangerous goods transportation or other controls related to the specific item being transported abroad.

The following are legal requirements for all international shipments:

  • Embargoed Countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and Ukraine (Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk Regions) 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.
  • Restricted Party Screening: The U.S. government maintains various lists of individuals and entities that U.S. organizations are prohibited from collaborating with or shipping to, and require an export license for any shipment to a restricted party. Contact the Export Control Officer for assistance with screenings or export license applications.

Shipping the Item

Ensure you have packaged and labeled the shipment properly. Decide which shipping company to use and whether you need a freight forwarder or customs broker. Complete all documentation.

UC Berkeley Export Expediter

American Cargoservice Inc. (ACS), is the UC Berkeley export expediter, or freight forwarder. The University of California has system-wide agreements for customs brokerage and international freight forwarding services with ACS to clear import and export shipments through U.S. Customs and provide freight-forwarding services.

American Cargoservice Inc.
7886 Convoy Court
San Diego, CA 92111
office: (858) 565-4125
toll free: (800) 508-4888
fax: (858) 565-7623
email: uc@acssan.com

If you have any questions or need more information regarding outbound shipments designated EAR99, contact Supply Chain Management.

To ship dry ice, contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).

For information on shipping biological, hazardous, or radioactive materials, see EH&S Shipping Research (Hazardous Materials).


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, 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 U.S. prior to the export of the goods (AES EEI). 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 = 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.

Pro Forma Invoice Requirements

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

Information required (all items in the shipment must be declared on the invoice)

  • The date that the invoice is created
  • A unique invoice number
  • The complete name and address including country of the ship from and ship to party/company these are also known as the Exporter of Record/Shipper and the Importer of Record/Consignee
  • A complete and concise description of the goods shipping
    • Example: Do not indicate “Cells”; you need to indicate what kind of cells
      • Wrong: cells; Right: human liver cells
  • The country of origin (manufacture) of the item
  • Quantity:Accurate number of each piece shipping
  • Weight listed in kilograms
  • Value of Product:Unit price and Extended total price
  • The total invoice amount
  • The diversion statement “These commodities, technology, or software were exported from the United States in accordance with the Export Administration Regulations. Diversion contrary to U.S. law is prohibited.” If your items are being exported under an ITAR export license a different diversion statement is required, consult with your Export Control lead.
  • When no EEI is required, the following statement needs to be noted on the invoice: “No EEI required - no individual Schedule B number valued over $2,500

HS Code

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 U.S. 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.

Harmonized System Tariff code (HS code)

  • 6-10 digit number: Internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying traded products
  • The USHTS is the U.S. version of the Tariff Code

Improper classification can lead to duties (taxes) or fines. Browse or search the complete list of HS codes at the U.S. International Trade Commission HTS Search or the U.S. Census Schedule B Search Engine.


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 the UC Berkeley authorized freight forwarder or transport carrier.

Contact the Recipient

Exporters are advised to contact their collaborator to inquire regarding the import requirements for the destination country. Imports may be stopped by Customs officials in the importing country if the proper import licenses are not included in the paperwork. Import requirements vary greatly by country.


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.

Red Flag Indicators in Export Transactions

The following “red flags” are adapted from a checklist provided by the Bureau of Industry and Security that indicate a recipient of the item you are shipping may not be authorized to receive them under export control regulations. While not all-inclusive, they are intended to illustrate the types of circumstances that should cause reasonable suspicion that a transaction could violate export control regulations. You should also review U.S. Government lists to identify countries and to check parties prohibited or restricted from participating in U.S. export transactions.

  • The recipient or its address is similar to one of the parties found on a list of denied persons.
  • The recipient or purchasing agent is reluctant to offer information about the end-use of the item.
  • The requested material or product’s capabilities do not fit the recipient’s line of business or expertise.
  • The requested materials are incompatible with the technical level of the country to which it is being shipped, such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment being shipped to a country that has no electronics industry.
  • The recipient is willing to pay cash for the material.
  • The recipient has little or no academic, scientific, or research background.
  • The recipient is unfamiliar with the material’s or product’s performance characteristics but still wants the product.
  • Routine installation, training, or maintenance services are declined by the recipient.
  • Delivery dates are vague, or deliveries are planned for out of the way destinations.
  • A freight forwarding firm is listed as the product’s final destination.
  • The shipping route is abnormal for the product and destination.
  • Packaging is inconsistent with the stated method of shipment or destination.
  • When questioned, the recipient is evasive and especially unclear about whether the requested material or product is for domestic use, for export, or for reexport.

If these red flags or other suspicious circumstances are present, you have a duty to exercise due diligence and ensure there is an appropriate end-use, end-user, or ultimate country of destination. Parties engaging in export transactions are required by the EAR to obtain documentary evidence concerning the transaction; misrepresentation or concealment of material facts is prohibited, both in the licensing process and in all export control documents. Do not put on blinders that prevent the learning of relevant information, determine whether the red flags can be explained or justified so as to evidence the bona fides of the recipient and the legitimacy of the transaction.

If you continue to have reason for concern after your inquiry, then you should either refrain from the transaction or submit all the relevant information to BIS in the form of an application for a validated license or in such other form as BIS may specify. If the red flags are not cleared and you proceed with the transaction, you run the risk of violating export control regulations. If there are no red flags in the information, you should be able to proceed with a transaction in reliance on information you have received.