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This article applies to selling in: United Kingdom

Importing and Exporting Inventory

When you expand your business to an Amazon marketplace outside your home country and fulfil with Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) or a third-party fulfilment provider, you’ll need to understand your obligations in the import/export process. Although you may want to handle some or all of these import/export steps yourself, it can be easier to hire a logistics provider such as a customs broker or a freight forwarder to handle the process for you. These providers may have the expertise and the time to make sure that your inventory moves from one place to another in a timely and secure manner.

Tip: If you use FBA in an Amazon marketplace outside your home country, and you wish to use the services of a logistics provider, the best practice is to contact one as soon as you have signed up for FBA. The process for completing the necessary paperwork can take some time, and you do not want the process to delay getting your products into your customers’ hands.

If you engage the services of a customs broker or a freight forwarder to help you to move inventory from one country to another, you must engage them directly. You must also directly make the arrangements for establishing the importer or exporter of record. Amazon cannot act in that capacity, or make these arrangements for you.

Before you engage a customs broker or freight forwarder to help you move your inventory from one country to a fulfilment centre in another country, you will need to decide who will take on certain responsibilities:

  • Exporter of record (EOR): Generally, the shipper is the exporter of record. Amazon will not act as the exporter of record. You may be able to contract with your customs broker or freight forwarder to act as the EOR.
  • Importer of record (IOR): The importer of record is responsible for ensuring that the shipment is imported successfully into the destination country. Responsibilities include filing legally required documents and paying assessed import duties and taxes. It is important to note that Amazon, including the fulfilment centres, will not serve as the importer of record for any shipment of FBA inventory. Any FBA inventory shipment attempting to make entry with Amazon as the IOR will be refused and returned at the shipper’s expense – no exceptions.
  • Ultimate consignee (United States): The ultimate consignee is the actual intended shipment recipient for shipments in the United States.
  • Consignee (Europe): The consignee is considered to be the owner of the shipment for the purpose of filing the customs declaration and of paying duties and taxes. Although Amazon will not serve as the consignee, you may enter “in care of” (c/o) before the name and the address of the Amazon fulfilment centre where you are shipping the goods.

Important: It is your responsibility to comply with all import and export laws and to ensure the imported goods comply with applicable laws and regulations. You may not import prohibited or restricted products without all of the required permits and authorisations. For example, the import of certain agricultural, food products, alcohol, plants and seeds, fish and wildlife products, or medication into certain countries may be prohibited or restricted.

Arrange shipment with a customs broker or freight forwarder

A customs broker or freight forwarder may require you to complete the following forms:

  • Power of Attorney: When you sign a Power of Attorney, the customs broker or freight forwarder is authorised to act as your agent to get your inventory moved through the customs process.
  • Importer of Record registration: Register as an IOR with customs authorities in the country where you are importing inventory. Amazon, including our fulfilment centres, will not serve as an IOR for any shipments of FBA inventory. This applies to shipments of any size or value, regardless of origin and product. Any FBA shipment attempting to make entry with Amazon as the IOR will be refused and returned at the shipper’s expense – no exceptions.
  • Application for a continuous bond for U.S. Customs if you are importing inventory into the United States.
  • Credit application: Generally, the customs broker may ask you to pay cash in advance or to make other payment arrangements.
  • Terms and conditions: The customs broker should spell out the terms for you to help you to understand who is responsible for the goods at every step of the shipment process.
  • Duties, taxes and shipping costs: Amazon will not be responsible for or collect any duties, taxes or shipping costs associated with FBA inventory. All shipments are required to use Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) shipping terms. Any shipment arriving at an Amazon fulfilment centre with collect charges, including any duties, taxes or shipping costs, will be refused without further concession.
  • Deliver-to party: An Amazon fulfilment centre may be listed as the deliver-to party on your shipping documentation. Here are some examples of how this should appear on the shipping documentation:
    Example 1 Example 2
    John Smith (owner of goods) John Smith (owner of goods)
    Attn: FBA programme Attn: FBA programme
    1850 Mercer Drive 500 McCarthy
    Lexington, KY 40511 USA Lewisberry, PA 17339 USA

Ultimate consignee

Although Amazon will not serve as Importer of Record, it may be listed as the ultimate consignee on your shipping documentation – but only if “in care of” is listed before the name of the Amazon entity.

If you list Amazon as the ultimate consignee, your customs broker must contact Amazon in advance of shipping any inventory to obtain the EIN or Tax ID No. required for customs clearance.

Commercial invoice

When your products are ready for shipment from the manufacturer or distributor, the shipper prepares the commercial invoice. It’s critical that the commercial invoice be accurate to avoid delays when clearing customs. The following information should be included on the commercial invoice:

  • The date of the invoice.
  • The names of the buyer and seller, including addresses (Amazon should not be shown as the buyer or the seller on the commercial invoice)
  • The name and complete address of the seller or manufacturer
  • The shipper’s contact name, company name, address and tax ID number
  • The ship-to address. Here, enter “In care of”, and then the name and address of the Amazon fulfilment centre where you are shipping the products.
  • Importer of Record. This field must contain the shipper’s name, if the same as the owner of the products. Do not leave this information blank; this will result in the shipment being refused and returned.
  • Shipment method
  • Detailed description of the goods being invoiced. Include the following:
    • Customs Harmonised Codes, if known
    • Number of units
    • Unit values
    • Total value of each product. For samples or products with no commercial value, a nominal or fair-market value must be stated for customs purposes.
  • The type of currency of the transaction
  • The terms of the sale. Note that correct terms must be Delivered Duty Paid (DDP). The shipper or FBA seller should pay all applicable duty and taxes and be responsible for clearing customs before delivery to the Amazon fulfilment centre. You are not authorised to import goods in the name of Amazon, or to show Amazon as the declarant or importer of record on the customs entry documentation.
  • Shipment tracking number. For shipments to Amazon fulfilment centres, include the Amazon FBA Shipment ID that you receive when you have created the shipment in your Amazon seller account. The shipment tracking number can also be an air waybill number if you are sending the package via a carrier service such as FedEx or UPS.
  • Any certifications
  • Name of the carrier transporting the goods
  • Freight payment terms
  • Reason for export

Shipping best practices

Amazon fulfilment centres have requirements for the shipments they receive, including the size of the pallets and the type of truck that can deliver to the fulfilment centre. The Truckload delivery to Amazon help page provides you with the information that you’ll need for preparing your shipment to an Amazon fulfilment centre. Paying attention to these requirements and best practices will help to avoid delays in getting your inventory to the fulfilment centre and into your customers’ hands.

Note: Pallet differences exist between Amazon marketplaces.

Arrange to have your shipments palletised before they arrive at the fulfilment centre whenever possible. Amazon’s fulfilment centres will accept floor-loaded shipments but only if you request it in advance when you set up your shipment to the fulfilment centre. Additional charges may apply if the floor-loaded shipment requires extensive handling.

Make sure that your shipments comply with Amazon’s policies regarding inbound shipments. If Amazon refuses to accept your shipments, you are responsible for removing the shipment from the fulfilment centre. For shipments that contain loose cartons, each of which weighing less than 30 kg, you may find it better to ship your products through a courier service. The carrier that you use may depend on the destination country, as the services that each carrier offers vary. If you do choose to ship your inventory to a fulfilment centre via a carrier service, you should check with the carrier to verify that they can clear your goods through customs based on the commercial invoice that are you provide them with. If they cannot clear your goods based on the commercial invoice, then you may need to contact a customs broker.

Logistics companies

There are many online resources that can help sellers to determine rates and that can make shipping easier. The following are links to some companies that some sellers have found useful. Visit their websites directly to calculate the approximate shipping charges that you can expect when fulfilling orders for the Amazon marketplaces in which you would like to list:

Europe UPS, DHL
United States UPS
Canada UPS
Japan DHL

Return of imports

United States

Amazon is currently unable to return inventory stored in Amazon’s fulfilment centres to an address outside of the United States. Furthermore, FBA does not currently support pickup options for sellers at Amazon fulfilment centres. If you wish to have FBA inventory returned to you, you must supply a return address in the United States in the Create Removal Order form.

Europe

Amazon is currently unable to return inventory stored in Amazon’s fulfilment centres in Europe to an address outside of Europe. Furthermore, FBA does not currently support pickup options for sellers at Amazon fulfilment centres. For inventory stored within Europe, if you wish to have FBA inventory returned to you, you must supply a return address in the Create Removal Order form.

Japan

Amazon is currently unable to return inventory stored in Amazon’s fulfilment centres to an address outside of Japan. Furthermore, FBA does not currently support pickup options for sellers at Amazon fulfilment centres. If you wish to have FBA inventory within JP returned to you, you must supply a return address in the Create Removal Order form.

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