Common Terms used in International eCommerce

Jul 20, 2020

customs clearance, international eCommerce checklist, international shipping, cross border commerce

Confused about de minimis shipment value, commercial invoices and harmonization codes? We’re here to help! Check out these common terms used when talking about international eCommerce:


Import means bringing products into a country for sale that have been made elsewhere. US Customs & Border Patrol supervises imports into the United States to ensure they are legal.

Click here for a full list of prohibited and restricted items.


Export means selling products that are made in one country and sold and shipped to customers in another country. Exporting products is a good way to expand to a potential market quickly. However, some countries restrict what goods can come in. Companies who wish to export or sell products in another country will need to research restrictions in the countries they wish to sell to.

De minimis shipment value

De minimis means “Something or a difference that is so little, small, minuscule, or tiny that the law does not refer to it and will not consider it.” When it comes to international eCommerce, de minimis value is the price below which little or no taxes are charged on shipments. This price is dependent on the total value of your shipped goods, and also includes shipping fees.

De minimis value provides faster clearance and opportunity to sell into competitive markets.

Customs or import duties

An import or customs duty in international eCommerce is the type of tax collected by customs authorities on items that arrive from other countries. The tax amount is calculated based on the value of the goods but varies depending on a country’s regulations and de minimis values.

Customs clearance

Customs clearance is the preparation and submission of documentations required to facilitate export or imports into a country. This includes assessment and payment of duty. This also ensures that items that are prohibited and restricted in each country are kept out.

Certificate of Origin

A Certificate of Origin is a document used in international transactions that lets customs officials know products being shipped meet all the criteria for products in the country they were made in. It is often submitted to customs authorities to confirm that a product can enter the country it’s being sent to. Additionally, this form often also documents when a product gets preferential treatment.

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a legal document between the supplier and the customer that clearly describes the products sold and amount paid for them. This is one of the main documents used by customs to determine customs or import duties.

Harmonization Code

The Harmonization Code system classifies products. Internationally accepted, it allows participating countries to quickly identify traded goods. Using harmonization codes in international eCommerce makes the customs process quicker.

You can find out more about Harmonization Codes here.

Still a little lost with these common international eCommerce terms? Don’t worry! You can still sell internationally, you just need the right partner!

To find out more about how eGlobalUSA can help you set up for international eCommerce, click here!

  1. José Luis says:

    Those are very good definitions.

You said:

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