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Jet Worldwide's  logistics team is committed to helping International companies reach their North American customs.    To the USA, online sellers - both American and outside the USA - are learning to incorporate direct shipping of online orders to complement traditional ocean to warehouse to customer processes. 

Best in class logistics teams are diverting their traditional bulk order container flows to more agile shipping of direct orders via high volume parcel import processes.  


Please note that the information we freely - and proudly - provide online is for general information purposes only.   The information is not intended as legal or tax advice and is provided “as is”; no representations are made that the content is error-free.  Of the the advice we provide, the most important is to always confirm compliance prior to shipping with your carrier and regulatory authorities.

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About this Post:  This page provides a deeper dive into the section 321 processes to help build best in class import solutions for shipping direct to the USA (and to the USA via Canada).

Navigation tips:  All sections listed below include in-page links to section referenced.  Each section concludes includes a link bring back here to: Top of the Page 

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Shipping Online Orders Direct to the USA

The logistics of shipping online orders direct is a critical skill that all online sellers should become familiar with.  The traditional flows of large bulk orders, ocean container, to domestic warehousing and distribution is being supplemented by shipping online orders directly from origin.  Whether a US seller who needs to lower their costs and improved their reaction to market trends to non-US sites who seek ways to scale their sales to the USA:   Contact Jet Worldwide's team for assistance.

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Diverting Ocean shipping with New Ecommerce Air Import

  • Ocean shipping delays are impacting retailers orders and impacting inventory for the US holiday season.  
  • Ocean transit times from China to the USA have more than double to nearly three months in some cases. 
  • Industry experts do not expect the ocean shipping capacity will normalize until capacity comes on line in the next 2 years.    

The increase cost in shipping orders direct is offset by the duty free status of section 321 entries,  minimized domestic  warehousing, lower  inventory levels and faster reaction to market trends.


In this post, we provide a deeper dive into shipping ecommerce orders directly to the USA (or via Canada).   The best way to build a scaleable and secure parcel supply chain is to build access to multiple ports of entry (including via Canada), multiple entry processes and, most important for peak periods, express clearance options.   Being able to throttle between express, cargo, and conveyance methods ensures lowest last mile delivery costs and predictable delivery times for your US customers.

Best in class shipping direct to USA consumers includes access to multiple ports, multiple section 321 entry types including ECCF and via Canada.

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The key data elements for shipping online orders to the USA include:

  • Shipper Address, contact name and details
  • Consignee name  address, contact name (of shipped to a company) and contact details
  • Contents of the package (the more specific/ descriptive, the better)
  • HS Code (required for some types of section 321 entries, see below)
  • Country of origin
  • Value of items
  • The weight and dimensions of the package

The data provided for e-commerce consolidations is used for both prior notice requirements for security purposes (prior to departure)  and entry to US Customs.

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Describing your Item(s) for import of online orders

While section 321 requires only a description of the item or items  being imported,  the lack of clear descriptions is a common cause of import complications and delays.  The description of an item's intended use can be helpful for obscure items that – for example – may be be described using  industry jargon.  Even if not always required, it is adding  the Harmonized System code can be helpful (see next section). 

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Harmonized System Code (HS) for online orders to USA

A key advantage of most Section 321 Entry types (see section below)  is that the Harmonized System Code is not required. However, best practices includes either including the HS code or - at a minimum - to be aware of the general codes of your goods.

READ-MORE-ABOUT-HSCODES HS CODES EXPLAINED

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Valuing your Item(s) for import to the USA

When importing e-commerce shipments to the USA, the declared value is simply what the goods were sold for.  The biggest issue for US customs and when sellers undervalue their goods - although this is not as common with the high US$800 duty free threshold.

READ-MORE-ABOUT-VALUATION REVIEW  HOW TO VALUE YOUR INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS

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What is Section 321 for Importing Online Orders to USA

"Section 321” is a subcategory informal entry,  allows the duty-free entry of a shipment valued less than $800 that is imported by one person on one day, with minimal attendant documentation requirements.

The term “Section 321” is derived from this provision’s statutory source, 19 U.S.C. § 1321(a)(2)(C).   

Jet helps companies explore the variety of methods to clear orders up to $800 duty free using a simplified “section 321” process.    We help companies uncover best practices using multi port express clearance (via an Express Consignment Clearance Facility - E.C.C.F, CFS and Type 86 processes). 

In addition to the "type 11" section 321,  "type 86" section 321 entry is available for more traditional ACE brokerage systems (see next section).


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Different Section 321 Entries Explained

USA Section 321 Express Consignment via ECCF

Using an Express Consignment Clearance Facility / ECCF, retailers benefit from express handling and clearance.   Best in class parcel import systems includes access to an ECCF to ensure uninterrupted clearance during peak periods or other customs slow downs.  

USA Section 321 Cargo via CFS

 The cargo CFS processes are essentially the same  as ECCF but without the customs fee and express clearance commitment.   As mentioned above, shippers  should build in both CFS and ECCF capabilities.

USA Section 321 Type 86 via ACE

Using traditional brokerage clearance systems, retailers can take advantage of type 86 entries.   The format requires application of HS codes.    This system is available for all forms of conveyance but seem to be subject to a higher level of inspection and delay.    Type 86 Section 321 can be cleared via traditional CBP Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) brokerage software.

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USA Section 321 via Canada Cross Border

Section 321 is available via Canada USA cross border systems giving another option for online orders to the USA.

 

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Section 321 and Other Government Agencies  

 US customs / CBP newer Section 321 de minimis entry processes (namely  ACE Entry Type 86) are designed to enable more streamlined approval from other government agencies.   However, the reality of "one window clearance" is still bit mixed.  We advise shippers to set up separate parcel import flows for goods requiring approval of other government agencies (most commonly items requiring approval of Food and Drug Administration).

Customs has been working on one window clearance processes that incorporates the requirements of other government agencies.     In customs parlance, they are referred to as "Partner Government Agencies" or  PGA's.    Type 86 extends the "one window clearance" processes to include low value section 321.   

Items requiring inspection as a condition of release, regardless of value, merchandise subject to Anti-Dumping / Countervailing duty (ADD/CVD), and certain products regulated by the following Partner Government Agencies (PGAs), may not qualify under Section 321:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
  • National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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Importing Wine, Food and other items requiring US Food And Drug Approval

Jet Worldwide helps businesses set up specialized high volume import processes for goods that require other/ partner government agencies - including innovative wine importing from France, Australia, Chile, South Africa and other countries with such speciality products.

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Import Process for shipments above US$800

Best in class parcel import systems include informal entry (CFR Part 128) processes for clearing higher value orders.  Shipments valued above US$800 and requiring other government agencies are often best managed by an express / ECCF facility.

Shipments valued up to US$2,500 can be imported via informal entry processes.  While the goods are subject to duty, the overall duty rates to the United States can average less than 5% for many ecommerce imports.

As cross border E-commerce is expanding from direct to consumer to business to business, the average values can often be above US$800.   Businesses selling direct to American businesses can also benefit from high volume parcel import processes even for higher value shipments using consolidated informal entry processes.   Contact Jet's team for details.

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Shipping Terms for ecommerce imports to the USA

The default shipping for ecommerce to the USA (and globally) is EXW.   Thanks to Section 321, the vast majority of ecommerce imports to the USA are cleared duty and tax free.   Best in class processes include considering Incoterms and how to manage potential consignee fees for higher values and special commodities.

INCOTERMS:

*DDU, DDP and EXW are terms known as Incoterms®, a registered trademark of the International Chamber of Commerce/ICC. It is useful to at least understand the existence of Incoterms and visit ICC’s website if further explanation is needed.

READ-MORE-INCO-TERMS

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Shipping Ecommerce for Final Mile Delivery to the USA

The leading last mile delivery solution to the USA remains the US Postal Service, USPS.   Online shippers can access USPS delivery direct (via Global Direct Entry, for example) or via a reseller / USPS partner (such as Pitney Bowes).

Multiple ports of entry:  The key to lower last mile delivery 

While the  USPS is the default (i.e best overall) option over all for last mile delivery to the USA, best in class e-commerce imports to the USA utilize multiple ports of entry to benefit from low cost ground delivery via FedEx, UPS or - increasingly - local carriers.

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jet-vector-globe-CanadaShipping to USA via Canada and to Canada direct

Canada and the USA remain among the world's most connected economies but have very different processes for import of parcels.   Canada has a much lower duty free threshold and ecommerce parcel import is done via the Low Value System /LVS for goods up to CA$3,300.    Goods can be transhipped via Canada to the USA (as mentioned above).  Goods shipped directly from the USA have a higher low value duty free threshold (see graphic below) thanks to the USMCA/ CUSMA free trade agreement.   

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Shipping to USA from Canada 

Canadian shippers are subject to the same import rules but benefit from the USMCA/ CUSMA free trade agreement (mentioned above) being able to take advantage of low cost truck and rail.    Parcels shipped via ground carrier are subject to entry preparation fees.

Canadian companies benefit from proximity to the USA, USMCA CUSMA free trade and air freight availability.

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Ship Online Orders direct to your International Consumers 

Jet Worldwide has been providing innovative single parcel shipping solutions for over 35 years - in what is now referred to as cross border e-commerce.   Our e-commerce logistics consultant team helps companies develop best in class solutions to- and from -  North America:

Contact Jet's team to build best in class processes for shipping online orders direct from the USA and Canada: To the UK, European Union, Japan,  China, Australia/ New Zealand, Caribbean, South America and and all the world's major economies and regions.

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Ship to Canada

Reminder: We work hard at presenting the best information possible and have become a leading online resource for international / cross border shipping.   However, it important to note that the information in all Jet Worldwide blogs and postings are for general information only and  provided “as is”; no representations are made that the content is error-free.

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