How to Fill Out a Shipper's Export Declaration

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Businesses that export shipments need to fill out a shipper’s export declaration. The data so generated are useful in two ways. First, they help the government to maintain a record of all exports from the U.S. Second, the information is equivalent to a regulatory document because it carries the license designation of the commodity being exported. This SED needs to be filled out in cases where the value of the commodity being shipped is greater than $2,500. It is also mandatory to file the SED for postal shipments of $500 and above. Similarly, an SED needs to be filed if your shipment needs a license for export or if you’re shipping to countries under an embargo. Electronic filing of SEDs in advance of the actual export is required by law.

Decide by whom the SED is going to be filed. The SED can be filed by the shipper or a freight forwarder. In order for the freight forwarder to do it, he should have a recognized power of attorney that authorizes him to carry out the task on the shipper's behalf.

Find out the details required. In the event that you decide to file the SED yourself, study the instructions on Correct Way to Fill out the Shipper’s Export Declaration and printing instructions available on the website of the U.S. Census Bureau (see Resources).

Get all the information ready. Collect all the relevant details that you need to fill in the SED. Make sure your printer is connected to your computer before you proceed to the next step.

Go to (see Resources). The SED form will open up. Enter all the details requested on this form, and save it. The form cannot be saved with your data entered. Hence, print the completed form if you wish to maintain a record of the details you’ve filed.


  • Except for Canada, filing an SED is mandatory for all other export destinations. However, in the event that the commodity being exported is one that needs an export license or exemption, the SED is required even for shipping to Canada.

    While filing the SED, you’ll need commodity descriptions along with the Schedule B numbers. Find these codes at the website (see Resources).

    The electronic filing of the SED can be done through UPS -- details can be found on the UPS website page titled SED How To Guide.



About the Author

Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.

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