Configure Customs Forms

Illustration of a military officer in front of a checklist.

Customs Forms are a staple of international shipping. The form provides the details of what is in the shipment. The carrier may call this form as a commercial invoice, declaration, or something similar. In ShipStation, the form is always called a Customs Form.

Depending on which carrier you use, you may not need to print a physical copy of your customs form. However, you will need to configure the customs declarations regardless of whether it will be sent physically or electronically.

Where to Find Customs Information in ShipStation

To edit the customs for an order:

  • Order Details: Click the Order Number in the Orders grid to open the Order Details screen. Then, expand the Customs Declarations section.

  • Orders Grid: Scroll down in the Shipment Configuration WIdget and expand the Customs Declarations section.

Configure Shipment Widget (CSW). French language, France-specific image. Arrow points to Customs Declaration dropdown menu.

This section will contain editable fields for the shipment's customs information. The fields marked with a red star are required fields.

Edit Customs Declarations

ShipStation will automatically fill in some customs details, like item names, quantity, and value. ShipStation pulls these details from the order. Additionally, the Select Contents and If Undeliverable drop-downs will be set to Merchandise and Return to Sender, respectively.

The Select Contents drop-down menu declares the nature of the contents. This is often used by customs to determine Value Added Tax (VAT).

  • Documents: the contents are documents (somewhat self explanatory)

  • Gift: goods sent to a person without a sale

  • Merchandise: goods purchased by a customer

  • Returns Goods: the goods are being sent back to their origin

  • Sample: Commercial Samples are goods sent for evaluation or reviews

The If Underliverable drop-down declares the action the customs authority takes if there is some reason the package cannot be delivered.

  • Return to Sender: the package is sent back to the return address

  • Treat as abandoned: the package is destroyed

Then you need to fill in the description for the items in the package. By default, ShipStation will enter the item’s name.

Adding Default Product Description

You can create a new default description for products if the Name of the item is not descriptive enough. Enter this description in the ShipStation product record or in International Settings.

The quantity and item value imports with the order but you can update the number. The total value updates automatically if you change the quantity or item value price.

Product-specific harmonisation codes are also entered here. Review the Harmonisation code article for more information about how to find the harmonisation code for your products.

Finally, set the country of origin. The default value is based on your ShipStation account home country.

Customs Forms FAQ

How many items can I list on a customs form?

The carrier determines the limit of how many items per box you may list.

Are Harmonization System Codes (HS Codes) always required?

This depends on the destination country but is becoming more and more common as a requirement. For example, all EU member countries, as of January of 2023, now require HS Codes on all shipments.

How specific do item descriptions need to be?

Again, requirements vary by country. Additionally, how you describe a product will differ depending on what kind of product it is. Here are a few examples of good descriptions:

  • Clothing: "Men's cotton t-shirt" or "Women's silk dress"

  • Electronics: "Bose Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones" or "Playstation Wireless Controller"

  • Artwork: "18 in x 24 in Lithograph on paper" or "16 in Bronze Statue"

  • Health & Beauty: "Foaming Facial Cleanser 8oz" or "Glycolic Night Cream 2ml"

Set up ShipStation for Customs Forms

You can automate your customs declarations in ShipStation through your account's International Settings and Product Records.

International Settings

First, fill in the account level international settings to set the default values for all shipments.

International Settings page

The Customs Declarations drop-down menu will determine how ShipStation handles filling in the customs fields for your shipments. This setting will affect all new orders that import into ShipStation. It does not affect orders that have already been imported.

  • Create Customs from Order items: This option tells ShipStation to use imported information about the product from the order to fill in product descriptions, value, and quantity. ShipStation is set to do this by default.

  • Use predefined values: This option will make the customs declaration the same for all orders.

  • Leave Blank: This option will leave the customs declaration blank so you will have to manually enter information for each international order.

Product Records

Each product record within ShipStation includes a Customs tab. This section of the record includes fields for product description, harmonisation codes, value, and country of origin. The information here will override anything set within the International Settings on your account for orders that contain this specific product.

Product Details Customs tab.

Update Multiple Product Records

If you have many products you wish to update in this way, use the Product CSV Import method to update multiple products at once.

Now that you have set up your defaults for customs, you can start printing customs forms.

Notes About Customs Forms in ShipStation

If you are shipping multiple, different products in a single package, such as a shirt and a mug, ShipStation creates a customs declaration for each individual item. If the multiple products are similar, such as multiple t-shirts, you can consolidate them into a single declaration and then update the quantity as needed.

Print Customs Form

ShipStation sends the customs declarations to the selected carrier when you create the label. The carrier, in most cases, will then send back the customs form(s) you need to print, along with the label (sometimes the customs declarations are printed on the label directly).

There are several places within ShipStation where you can print your customs forms for shipments that have them:

ShipStation Location


The Customs Forms column in the Shipments Tab

Shipped Grid has a Customs Forms column with 'Created PDF' boxed in red for an order.

The Print menu in either the Orders or Shipments tabs

Orders tab with an arrow pointing to print menu with drop-down options revealed

The Print menu in the Shipment Details screen

Shipment Details page that shows an arrow pointing to the Print menu, with drop-down options. The options include Packing Slip, Label, and Pick List.

The Print menu in the Order Details screen


The action menu from the Shipment Widget

V3 Order Details, red arrow points at Shipment action menu with Print Customs Form option selected
Printing FAQ

Do I always need to print my customs forms?

A majority of the time, yes, you will need to print a copy of your customs forms to include with the shipment. Although, some carriers like UPS and FedEx will submit customs electronically. When this is the case, there will be a symbol or abbreviation on the label.

Should I print multiple copies of my customs?

One customs form should be enough. But if you need to reprint, you can do so within ShipStation.

Where do I put the customs form?

The customs form needs to be on the outside of the box. In some cases, the customs print on the label, so there is nothing additional you need to do. In other cases, the customs forms print separately. For these cases, you may need to get a clear customs form envelope to attach to the box.

Other Documents

There may be some other documents that you need to include with your customs form. However, these forms are used in specific situations and may not be available to print from ShipStation.

  • USMCA Certificate of Origin: Shipments requiring certificates of origin should use the USMCA form.

  • EPA HS-7 and 3520-x forms: These are Forms for Importing Vehicles and Engines. If you are exporting or importing these types of products, you will need to print these forms outside of ShipStation.