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Exporting Basics: Filing shipments through the Automated Export System


Shipping products around the world for the first time can feel like learning a new language. There’s all kinds of exporting jargon to figure out, dozens of agency names to remember and sometimes you need to break through literal language barriers. Do I need to file an EEI with the AES? It’s no wonder new exporters get overwhelmed. 

Exporting goods can get complicated, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. By learning the basics of properly completing a shipment, you’ll gain the knowledge you need to export with confidence. In this blog, we’ll focus on the Automated Export System and Electronic Export Information. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

AES and EEI: What do they mean? 

The Automated Export System, or AES, is an electronic system exporters use to report export data, which is used by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to track and record shipments leaving the United States. These filings are called Electronic Export Information, or EEI, and determining whether or not you need to fill one out is the first thing you need to do when exporting a product. 

Does my company need to complete an EEI filing? 

Yes, if the value of the shipment is more than $2,500 per Schedule B number.  

Depending on the shipment, you could have one or more Schedule B number. If the value of any one of those numbers is more than $2,500, completing the EEI filing is mandatory. This includes repairs and foreign-made items, even if they go through a transformation. 

When filling out an EEI, foreign and domestic items should be listed separately. EEI filings are also required for all used self-propelled vehicles (such as a used car), rough diamonds and any products licensed under International Traffic in Arms Regulations. 

Does your product require an export license? Stay tuned for our next Exporting Basics blog to learn more.    

Who submits the EEI? 

If you are the U.S. Principal Party of Interest, or USPPI, you are responsible for filing an EEI. The USPPI is most often the United States manufacturer invoicing the foreign customer and always the primary benefactor of the shipment.  

In some instances, a U.S.-based distributor or wholesaler of a product is listed as the USPPI. In this situation, you should seek clarification from a freight forwarder or from Customs before declaring the USPPI. If multiple products are purchased from different vendors and consolidated into one shipment, there are multiple USPPIs listed, which means there will need to be multiple filings with the AES. 

Two other things to remember when submitting an EEI:

  • The address of the USPPI is where the goods begin their journey, not the headquarters of the company.
  • The ID number is the company EIN. 

Do I need to complete an EEI filing for digital goods and services? 

You are only required to complete an EEI filing if you are exporting physical goods. You do not have to complete an EEI filing for digital goods or services. You also do not need to file if you are shipping to Canada, a U.S. military or diplomatic post office or to any United States territory other than Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Get help from our export experts 

Still need help making sense of EEI filings? The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administrations has free training videos to help you understand the AES and how to submit your EEI. To watch them, click here

The West Virginia Development Office’s international trade representatives are also available to help answer your questions about exporting and identifying new foreign buyers for your products or services. Contact us today!

Caitlin Ashley-Lizarrage headshot

By Caitlin Ashley-Lizarraga

International Trade Representative

Caitlin works with the West Virginia Development Office’s Export Promotion Program. She helps introduce the world to the hidden gem of West Virginia one export at a time.

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