Why do I need a customs form for an APO address?

Guide to understanding requirements for shipping packages to the EU (including APO addresses)

There have been recent changes to the USPS process of shipping packages to APO addresses in countries following the European Union Customs guidelines. You used to have the option to skip a customs form when sending packages to APO addresses, since they are considered US addresses. But now, to make international shipping smoother and quicker, the USPS has made it a requirement to fill out a customs form for APO addresses in EU Customs countries.

So, what's a customs form? It's a special document that has detailed information on the package contents that are being sent outside the United States. This form ensures that your package reaches its international destination without a hitch. In this article, we'll walk you through how Ship.com takes care of generating that customs form for you.

How to create a customs form

You don't need to research your customer's shipping address to know if a customs form is needed to ship the package. When you're purchasing a shipping label for your package, the system will automatically check with the post office to see if the shipping address needs a customs form. 

Using all of the order information provided, the system will fill out a majority of the customs form automatically for you. You will need to enter the HS tariff code for each product in the package.

After you enter the HS Tariff code then you'll be able to select which USPS postage type you'd like to use. The label will generate with the customs form automatically. Just apply the label to your package and feel relieved to know that your package is going to make it safely to its destination!

TIP: To help ensure the correct information is generated on the form you'll want to double check that the order information is accurate before purchasing the shipping label (e.g. items and their value).

Information that is included on the customs form

There is a lot of information included on a customs form. All of the following information will be pulled from the system before generating the customs form. Please note that any inaccurate information may result in a delay of the delivery of the item. Make sure that the following information is accurate on your order before shipping: 

Sender Information - No abbreviations; include First and Last Name, Full Address, and Up To Date Contact Information (email, phone).
Recipient Information - No abbreviations; include First and Last Name, Full Address, and Up To Date Contact Information (email, phone).
Item Description - Must include specific and accurate description of every item included, see below for specific examples.
Item Value - Each item must have a value to it and the order must also have a total value; this is handled through the order information and can be edited before purchasing a label.
Package Weight - This information does not need to be from the order and will be taken from your postage selection.

Understanding HS Tariff Codes

Just think of HS tariff codes as your package's special labels. These little codes make sure that customs can quickly and accurately understand what's inside your package, which, in turn, helps ensure a smooth and speedy delivery. 

Since HS Tariff codes can be very specific then it is up to the shipper to ensure that the correct HS Tariff codes are provided with the form. But don't worry, you don't have to memorize all 17,000+ unique codes. You can use this website to search for your tariff code to find the one that best matches the description of your product.

When purchasing a shipping label that will require an HS Tariff Code you'll be prompted to enter the code through the following notification:

Customs Notification

Note that you can add and edit the items included in the order from this notification


Guidance for Acceptable Descriptions

Unacceptable Acceptable
Clothing Women's leggings, Men's woolen sweatshirt, Girl's summer dress, etc.
Health & Beauty Lipstick, Face Lotion, Bodywash, etc.
Cookware Titanium cup, Non-stick aluminum pan, bamboo tableware
Personal Bag Leather make-up bag, Women's knapsack, plastic case