A Basic Guide to Shipping to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means that it holds a unique legal status. If you are shipping to Puerto Rico, you may assume that the shipment will be just like sending an item anywhere else in the United States…. After all, Puerto Rico is not a foreign country. The reality, however, is that while a shipment to Puerto Rico is not the same as a traditional international shipment, there are special rules that must be followed and things that you need to do in order for your shipment to be able to enter Puerto Rico and get to its recipient. It is very important that you understand as you are preparing your shipment what is required of you for you to comply with all rules and regulations for a shipment that is going to Puerto Rico. An experienced shipping company that has regular routes to Puerto Rico will be able to help you with the specifics associated with your shipment. However, there are some basic things that you should be aware of so that you will know in advance what you should expect. When you are sending a shipment to Puerto Rico, there is no requirement that your shipment clear customs as it must do when going to other countries. However, a sales tax may be charged on shipments to Puerto Rico. This sales tax would be charged based on the value of the goods that you are shipping, as described and noted in the commercial invoice that you must send along with the shipment. Any shipment to Puerto Rico not only must have a commercial invoice with a value of the goods listed, but it also must have other specific paperwork as well. For example, a shipment to Puerto Rico will require a standard bill of lading. A shipment that is sent to Puerto Rico must also have an Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing.  There are specific regulations associated with the filing of EEIs that will apply to all carriers and to all customers who are sending shipments to either Puerto Rico or the United States Virgin Islands.  Details on the regulations for the EEI can be found through the U.S. Census Bureau, which is the government agency that was responsible for implanting recent regulatory changes. When you have the correct paperwork and your shipment is allowed to enter into Puerto Rico, the shipment won’t need to go through customs but will need to go to the Puerto Rico Tax Department. The Tax Department has to clear the shipment prior to it being released for delivery.  The shipment can clear most quickly as long as it has the commercial invoice with a description of the goods and their value; the name of the consignee along with the address and telephone number, and either a tax exempt identification or tax bond number. Your shipping company should help you to ensure that your shipment includes the paperwork you need and that your shipment goes through its clearance with the tax department so that it can be delivered to its recipient.

Date: 9/12/2013

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