Image of vessel at loading dock with shipping containers.

International Shipping Standards & Regulations All Business Owners Should Know

Shipping your goods internationally is generally not as easy as it sounds. There are many standards and restrictions that you must abide by depending on where your goods are coming from, where they are going, and what they are.

However, shipping globally is not an impossible job! Continue reading to learn more about international shipping and the restrictions related to it.

What Are Some International Shipping Standards?

International shipping standards are guidelines that provide uniformity for international trade and are set by organizations such as the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and ICC (the International Chamber of Commerce), to name a couple. International shipping standards also include regulations that govern what can be shipped and how it must be shipped.

The most important terms that have been adopted are the Incoterms ® (International Commercial Terms). The Incoterms ® are a set of internationally recognized terms that are used in both domestic and international contracts for the delivery of goods worldwide.

What Types of International Shipping Restrictions Are There?

There are several types of international shipping regulations and restrictions on the transportation of goods. These include:

  • The IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code)
  • The ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)
  • The IATA (International Air Transport Association)
  • The Incoterms ® (International Commercial Terms)
  • Restrictions on certain products like cigars, coffee, CBD (cannabidiol), alcohol, and more.

Air Freight

When it comes to goods transported by air, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) sets the international shipping standard that stipulates the restriction on these items. The IATA aims to promote safe and secure air travel, which entails restricting certain goods.

The IATA implemented the DGR (Dangerous Goods Regulations), which ensures the safe and efficient transportation of dangerous goods. An example of specific items that are restricted when shipping via air freight include battery-powered vehicles and lithium batteries.

Ocean Freight

Bird’s eye view of shipping containers.

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) is an international code designed to promote the safe transportation of dangerous goods to prevent environmental pollution. It classes dangerous goods into various categories:

  • Class 1: Explosive products
  • Class 2: Gases
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids
  • Class 4: Solids and substances that are flammable
  • Class 5: Substances or agents that are prone to oxidizing as well as organic peroxides
  • Class 6: Substances that are toxic and infectious
  • Class 7: Substances that are radioactive
  • Class 8: Corrosive products
  • Class 9: Dangerous substances and miscellaneous articles

These items are restricted for international shipping, but if you have obtained an IMDG Certification, you may be able to ship these via ocean freight.

Ground Transportation

When shipping goods internationally via ground transportation (such as rail or trucks), you must consider the standards surrounding customs inspections, documentation requirements, container safety, and more that are stipulated by the receiving country.

There are certain international restrictions placed on goods shipped in this manner. These include:

  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Fuel
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Paint
  • Airbag inflators
  • Cigarettes
  • Medical or other types of marijuana
  • Perfumes with alcohol
  • Nail polish
  • Dry ice
  • Explosives
  • Poisons
  • Window cleaners
  • Antifreeze
  • Aerosols

Furthermore, if you’re importing a vehicle, it’s important to know that most countries forbid the importation of cars with foreign soils and pesticides. So ensure your logistics company can arrange for the vehicle to be prepared for international shipping according to this standard.

Final Thoughts on International Shipping and Restrictions

While international shipping can be a complex process, knowing the regulations of each country and the guidelines that govern the international shipping of goods before you do can make the process easier. Keeping up with and adhering to these guidelines can help your business avoid losing money or wasting time due to delays.

To learn more about international shipping and how we at PartnerTrade simplify the entire process, fill out the form today to find out more about how our global logistics services can help your business grow.