U.S. Customs Brokerage Archives - SiShips

USA Main: +1-904-432-8866| Bogota Colombia +57-1-466-0813

Skip to Content

Ocean Carrier vs. Drayage Carrier Fees

Ocean Carrier vs. Drayage Carrier Fees

How Port Congestion and Port Fees Affect You

No one likes port congestion. It causes supply chain delays and missed deadlines, but, worst of all, port congestion can lead to additional ocean carrier and drayage carrier fees.

Ocean carriers refer to the vessel and vessel operators physically transporting goods between international ports. The next step in the supply chain are drayage carriers, which transport goods from ports to their destination. Drayage often refers to trucking and short distances known as “the first mile” on an export or “the last mile” on an import. Unfortunately, both ocean carriers and drayage carriers charge extra fees for delays, wait times, and more.

The federal government is looking to help alleviate the pressure of some of these charges with the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA 2022). This bipartisan law is designed to help American importers and exporters, especially agricultural exporters, save on costs. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 applies to ocean carrier fees, so it is important to understand the distinction between ocean carrier and drayage carrier fees.trucking detention demurrage port congestion

Charges from the Ocean Carrier

There are several key terms to know when discussing charges and fees from an ocean carrier. 

Per diem, also known as detention, is the fee from an ocean carrier for each day past the number of “free” days a container can be away from port. Ocean carriers charge per diem/detention fees as an incentive for customers to return their shipping containers as quickly as possible, so the containers can be used again.

The reverse of detention is demurrage. This refers to the fee assessed by the terminal if your cargo remains at port past the Last Free Day. 

The Last Free Day is the last day of a predetermined period of free storage time in which the goods can be picked up by a drayage carrier before incurring a demurrage fee. Free days depend on your contract and type of drayage carrier (rail, truck, or air), but are typically 2-3 days. 

Charges from the Drayage Carrier

Likewise, here are a few definitions to be aware of when looking over drayage carrier fees.

A pre-pull is when a container is picked up from the port and stored at a different location, instead of being delivered immediately. Pre-pulls are used when free days at the port will run out. They are less expensive than costly demurrage fees.

Wait time is an hourly charge, also known as a trucking wait fee, for each hour it takes to the full container to be updated or unloaded on the truck. Most trucking companies and drivers will allow a small amount of free wait time before charging for additional time. 

As you can see by now, a seamless workflow between ocean carriers and drayage carriers is key to keeping costs down. That’s where a managed transportation expert like SiShips can make a huge difference on your bottom line.  

international port ocean container shipping news osra ocean shipping reform act 2022

Another common set of fees assessed by drayage carriers have to do with the chassis. Chassis are the specialized trailers that are used by trucks to transport ocean containers on the road. Drayage carriers charge a rental fee for these chassis, and an additional fee known as a chassis split, if the truck driver must go to an extra location to pick up a chassis before arriving to pick up the container from the port.

How the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 Can Help You

Ocean carrier and drayage charges are linked and have a large effect on each other. However, they are separate fees from separate entities and, while logistically they affect each other, the charges are not related.

President Biden signed OSRA 2022 into law on June 16, 2022. This law created new oversight for the Federal Maritime Commission to address unfair charges and unreasonable denial of American exports. In short, OSRA 2022 was made to combat detention and demurrage charges incurred due to port congestion and shipping uncertainty. Additionally, California Gavin Newsom signed AB 2406 into law on September 30, 2022. AB 2406 will go into effect on January 1, 2023. This law will prevent detention and demurrage fees due to circumstances beyond the control of drayage carriers. Reactions to the California law are mixed. Truckers and cargo owners are pleased with the law, but the terminals are concerned about loopholes in the nuance of the law. 

However, it is clear that federal and state level governments are taking upheaval in the shipping industry seriously and are looking for both short and long term solutions.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

2 Continue Reading →

New Updates to Merchandise Processing Fees

Why You May Notice Different Fees on Your Invoice

Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, U.S. Customs and Borders Protection is modifying their fee structure on cargo. The new Merchandise Processing Fees, first announced on August 1st, 2022, will enter into effect on October 1st, 2022. Keep in mind that duty-free imports are not exempt from paying these fees.

As part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Treasury was given the power to adjust Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) fees in accordance with inflation. This decision is made by comparing the average Consumer Price Index from the previous year. If there is an increase of more than one percent, the COBRA fees must be changed, accordingly. These fee increases represent a small percentage of the whole, however, it is important to factor them in while budgeting and preparing calculations for shipments.

ocean cargo shipping freight forwarding u.s. customs inspection fees rates inflation

Notable Fee Changes

The full list of COBRA related fees is available at the Federal Register. For ease of use, we’ve highlighted a few of the fees you are most likely to encounter.

Important to note is the Merchandise Processing Fee rate will not change; it remains at 0.3464% of the cargo value. However, both the minimum and maximum have increased slightly. From the U.S. Customs and Border Protection notice, “The minimum will change from $27.75 to $29.66; and the maximum will change from $538.40 to $575.35.”

  • The Surcharge for Manual Entry/Release (class code 500) will change to $3.56
  • The Dutiable Mail fee (class code 496) will change to $6.52
  • The Commercial Vessel or Commercial Aircraft Passenger Arrival customs fee will change to $6.52 per passenger. Also, the Commercial Vessel Passenger Arrival (from exempt areas) customs fee will change to $2.29 per passenger.
  • The Commercial Truck Arrival fee will change to $6.50. The total single crossing fee will be $14.05, as the Commercial Truck Arrival Fee does not include inspection service fees (which are currently $7.55).


international freight forwarding fee structure increase shipping news

Are Any Imports Exempt from Merchandise Processing Fees?

While we mentioned that just because an import is duty-free that does not mean it is exempt from Merchandise Processing Fees (MPF), there are certain Free Trade Agreements that will waive the MPF. For example, the current Free Trade Agreement with Israel provides an exemption. Sheltered International will be able to help you work through and understand whether MPF will apply to your shipment.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about Merchandise Processing Fees and possible exemptions, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

0 Continue Reading →

Shanghai Lockdown Squeezes Supply Chain

China’s Stringent Zero Covid Policy Strikes a Barely Recovered Supply Chain

The supply chain continues to limp along on its Sisyphean struggle back to normal. An outbreak of Covid-19 cases tied to the Omicron variant have caused China to take drastic measures and issue a near total shutdown of Shanghai, one of the world’s most populous cities.

The Shanghai lockdown is notable for several reasons, not the least of which it is the largest lockdown in China since Wuhan, widely believed to be the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Sunday, March 27th, there were roughly 6,000 cases reported in all of China, with about half of the confirmed cases in Shanghai. This number may seem infinitesimally low compared to other countries, but China has adopted a “Zero Covid” policy for the majority of the pandemic and an outbreak, even of this size, is a major cause for concern for the government.

shanghai ningbo hong kong beijing port lockdown supply chain bottleneck freight forwarding international shipping

Photo courtesy of Pat Whelen.

Effects on Freight Forwarding

Numerous financial services headquartered in the city and the Shanghai Stock Exchange have shifted as many services as possible online. Local restaurants (such as international chains: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC) have shuttered their doors. Factories and shopping malls are closing for the time being, as well, with any workers who can work remotely being encouraged to do so. Unfortunately, Shanghai’s port, the largest port in the world, does not have that option. Even still, the plan is to maintain operations under the “essential services” label.

While the Shanghai port will still be open, freight forwarders are being encouraged to use alternate ports due to trucking issues and other restrictions in the city. The Shanghai airport is still operating at a normal level, but that could change if more cases are found and the lockdown is extended past April 5th. It is advisable at this moment to prepare for worst case scenarios. 

The capital city of Beijing is experiencing trucking delays due to its own set of restrictions; elsewhere, the Hong Kong border provides a different set of issues. The Ningbo terminal, which has previously experienced pandemic-related disruptions in service, is a recommended alternative until the lockdown in Shanghai is lifted.

Details of the Shanghai Lockdown

China is taking extraordinary steps with the Shanghai lockdown. The current plan is to shutdown the city in two halves; east of the Huangpu River will completely shut down except for essential services for four days, then the side west of the river will do the same. The east side of the city is mostly the business district and the west is more residential. Certain financial institutions called employees to their offices before the lockdown went into effect so they could sleep at the office for the duration of the lockdown. The hope is this split lockdown will isolate any cases of Covid-19 without completely disrupting the local, national and international economy.

shanghai port tesla plant huangpu shutdown lockdown residents coronavirus omicron automotive computer shenzenDuring this time, Shanghai is taking on the extensive task of testing every single person who calls Shanghai home—for those of you doing quick math, that’s over 3 million tests per day for the 25 million people who call the city home.

Continued Impacts on the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry continues to be one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Tesla has announced a pause in production in their Shanghai plant until at least Thursday, March 31st. Incidentally, CEO Elon Musk announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. All of this comes at a time when Tesla stock prices are, against all odds, skyrocketing amongst rumors of a potential stock split.

Despite delays in the supply chain and rises in gas prices, forecasters remain bullish. However, these new lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine are squeezing the supply chain about as thin as it can possibly go. US auto sales are slumping, with finger pointing at chip shortages, inventory size and other possible culprits. The reality is less affluent buyers are being kept out of the automotive market. Car sales are expected to fall 24% in March and 16% in the first quarter. Until the lockdowns are lifted and bottlenecks clear, inventories will continue to shrink and prices will continue to rise.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

3 Continue Reading →

Border Protests at the US-Canada Border Torpedo Supply Chain

Auto Industry Losing Millions of Dollars Weekly

With new cases of the Omicron variant beginning to lessen, there were hopes by many life might slowly return back to a pre-pandemic state. February is a month that traditionally feels the brunt of a tightened supply chain due to Lunar New Year celebrations, but this year the strain on the supply chain is coming from border protests on the North American continent.

Three border crossings have been closed or affected by a group of Canadian truckers who are protesting Covid mitigation measures. Thousands of truckers have joined forces to fight a mandate that all Canadian truckers must be fully vaccinated or quarantine in their homes for two weeks after crossing the US-Canada border. The protests have been declared unlawful by police, but for the majority of the protests practically zero arrests have been made.

border crossing us canada trucker protest vaccine exemption mandate

What Caused the Border Protests?

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” began in the western Canadian provinces with the goal of driving to the Canadian legislative capital, Ottawa, and remaining there until the mandate was lifted. Previously, truckers had been exempt from any form of vaccine mandate in an effort to keep the supply chain operational during the height of the pandemic. Since arriving in Ottawa, the truckers and other like-minded protesters have effectively shut down the city. There were rumors that similar protests might occur in Los Angeles, who hosted Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, February 13th.

The protest has spread from the capital to border crossings in multiple Canadian provinces, crippling the trade of goods between the United States and Canada. The Ambassador Bridge, which carries over one quarter of all trade between the two countries has attracted the most attention from protesters and media, alike.

Who Is Most Affected?

For the moment, the people feeling the brunt force of the protests are autoworkers at factories in Michigan, Kentucky and Ontario, Canada. Due to a lack of materials, employees’ hours have been cut back. Economists estimate that workers in Michigan, alone, lost $51 million dollars during the week of February 7th to February 13th. Factories typically keep two weeks worth of supplies on hand, but if the bridges remain closed much longer, “then you’re looking at layoffs,” says Carla Bailo, the president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This loss of wages extends throughout the entire community, with people spending less money on food and entertainment while their hours are curtailed. It is a stark reminder of how precarious the global supply chain can be.

Additionally, the communities of Detroit and Windsor, Canada, where the Ambassador Bridge is located, are acutely feeling the pressure of the protests. The required police presence at the border protests, while leading to few arrests, has led to an increase in 911 response times for the rest of the cities. Additionally, in Ottawa, the epicenter of vaccine protests, the downtown area has been in a state of deadlock for several weeks. Businesses are closed simply because it is impossible to get to their doors due to the immense crowds.

The recent lack of steel and aluminum from Canada compounds upon the shortage of semi-conductors to drive up the value of both new and used vehicles. After announcing their earnings report for Q4 2021, Ford stocks fell 6%. However, Ford reported profits of over $10 billion dollars in 2021 and remains “bullish” on 2022.

border crossing ottawa protests canada windsor detroit truckers pedestrians auto industry supply chain

When Will the Border Protests End?

On Sunday morning, February 13th, following an injunction from a Canadian judge that entered in to effect on Friday evening, police began to arrest the truckers blockading the border crossings. While tow trucks removed vehicles, hundreds of pedestrian protesters remained. The road from Detroit into Windsor was partially re-opened, but it will take some time for auto plants on both sides of the border to rev back up to full production.

It is difficult to say when the borders will become fully operational, but goods are making their way, slowly, across the border. Prime Minister Trudeau, for the first time, invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, February 14th, which gives the government more power to suspend citizens’ right to free movement and prevent financial support of the protests. However, the vaccine mandate was not repealed and after seeing the success of their initial protest it is likely there will be subsequent blockades in the coming days.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

2 Continue Reading →

In Conversation with Licensed Customs Broker Michelle Rockwell

The Past, Present and Future of the Customs Industry

Today on the blog, we had the chance to sit down with Michelle Rockwell, a Licensed Customs Broker and Operations Manager here at SiShips. Rockwell is a veritable fount of knowledge for all aspects of importing and exporting. Her career has spanned thirty years in the shipping industry. Rockwell has been a valued member of the SiShips team for the last seven years. Over the course of our conversation we touched on a variety of topics, including Rockwell’s unique experience as a Licensed Customs Broker, what she’s learned about freight forwarding in school and on the job, and the direction she sees the customs industry heading in the future. You can read our conversation below:

Hi Michelle, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start at the beginning, how did you originally become a customs broker? 

Rockwell: On one of my yearly reviews my manager listed taking the broker exam as my goal for the year.  I had worked in all aspects of the industry during my career in international logistics and this was the next step in advancing in my career.

Was freight forwarding or international trade something you studied in school?   

Rockwell: No, I studied travel and tourism

What is an important lesson you learned early on in your career that you still think about today?  

Rockwell: The industry is a fast paced [one] with constant change that only the adaptable survive.

How to Work with Clients as a Custom Broker

What is your personal philosophy when dealing with clients? 

Rockwell: Always be transparent and honest with the customer.  The customer may not always like the truth, however they will respect you.

Do you treat them all the same, or does each receive individualized attention, depending on their wants and needs?  

Rockwell: Each customer requires individual attention depending on their working knowledge, experience, and expectations.

shipping industry news covid-19 coronavirus global supply chain jacksonville licensed customs broker expert interview port congestion

A Custom Broker’s View of Covid-19

Apologies that we have to bring it up yet again, but how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way you do business?  

Rockwell: We have had to extra care with our customers who are frustrated with the extra challenges they have faced during Covid.  Covid has caused delays throughout the entire supply chain from port congestion, labor shortages, and extremely inflated freight rate. 

What advice do you have for clients that are frustrated with the current global situation? 

Rockwell: Ship earlier than you normally would, check all port options for creative routings, and expect freight rates to be highly inflated and above all remember to be patient as we are all struggling [through] this together.

Are you able to forecast when the industry and the supply chain might return to normal—if “normal” is even a possibility anymore, especially in light of the new Omicron variant?  

Rockwell: At my best guess I would not expect to see any improvement before Chinese New Year 2023

Apart from Covid-19, what is the biggest change factor you have seen over your 30-year career in the customs industry and how do you anticipate the industry to change in the next five to ten years?  

Rockwell: Another big change I have seen is when we changed to ACE for the reporting to US Customs.  This change helped to make the industry a more paperless environment, however it took away the personal relationships you had with US Customs in your local ports. 

We’ll finish with a fun one: if you’re able to share with us, what is the most surprising or unique client you have worked with during your career as a licensed customs broker? 

Rockwell: An individual that imported a Mosaic piece of artwork to hang on their wall that weighed over 600 pounds.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

0 Continue Reading →

Sheltered International to Offer Managed Transportation

All of Your Logistics Solutions in One Place

Sheltered International is excited to share we will now be offering managed transportation. If you’re looking to outsource all of your logistics operations or just a specific segment, such as supply chain discovery or shipment optimization, managed transportation is the best way to grow your business with the assistance of our shipping expertise. Sheltered International will use these new services to enhance our already existing resources of satellite tracking, document management, notification management and delivery deadline tracking.

What that means for you, the shipper, is you will be able to have greater control over your freight shipments while saving on cost.

Put the Shipper In Control

freight cargo shipping containers harbor managed transportationThe singular goal of managed transportation is to empower the shipper with choice. We provide the knowledge and you can make the decisions that work best for your company; it’s as simple as that. Instead of booking on our contracts, we enable your business to initiate your own carrier contracts.

Once your freight is en route, we will use our software and staff to optimize routing, notify you of shipment dispatch, track transit and delivery, and, ultimately, ensure payment and analyze the reported data. Our package of managed transportation services includes:

  • Account Management & Governance
  • Freight Optimization
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Vendor Management
  • Flexible Commercials
  • Consulting & Engineering
  • Order Management
  • Procurement & Pricing
  • Risk Management
  • Control Tower
  • Track & Trace
  • Freight Pay & Audit

cargo ships managed transportation freight crane harborA Hybrid Approach to Managed Transportation

There are two options when looking to improve the speed and quality of your freight delivery: your company can purchase a transportation management system (TMS) or you can outsource the logistics to a managed transportation services provider (MTS). The upshot of a transportation management system is greater net savings, however, you are unlikely to see the same quality of service improvements compared to a managed transportation services provider.

But, what if you don’t have to choose?

Sheltered International is now able to provide our clients with the best of both worlds. We will provide you with the value-added services that you select; a few examples include logistics consulting and analysis, carrier procurement, shipment planning, and execution. And, of course, you will have dedicated account teams at your disposal that will provide insight into KPIs, inside industry updates and quarterly business reviews.

Benefits for Small Shippers

Traditionally, shipping has been all about volume, and for smaller shippers who can’t match the output of larger corporations that means being left behind in the dust and dealing with exorbitant prices and poor customer service. Managed transportation is a modern way for companies with smaller footprints to have access to the same benefits of those larger companies.

Managed transportation with give you access to the whole toolbox without the costs traditionally associated with the large operations that enable access to those volume based discounts.

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

SiShips is able to help shippers of all sizes and experience levels with our flexible account management and à la carte pricing. With the addition of managed transportation we can tailor our services to fit your freight needs best. Whether your focus is domestic or international shipping, SiShips is here to help you find the most efficient way to transport your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

0 Continue Reading →

Why Your Company Should Use Periodic Monthly Statements

How Sheltered International Makes Filing Duty Payments Easier for Your Business

From saving you time to improving your cash flow, using the Periodic Monthly Statement (PMS) process can offer significant benefits to your business. PMS has no additional cost and allows your business to pay duties monthly in a single payment, instead of for each individual transaction. Combined with our tracking and reporting software SiShips, your business can enjoy simplified reporting and accounting and a greater sense of control when it comes to duty payments.


How Do Periodic Monthly Statements Work?

Periodic Monthly Statements track entry activities throughout the month to provide a single monthly statement. This structure also extends the payment window. While when paying per shipment, the importer must pay duties within 10 business days, PMS offers the importer 15 business days after the end of each cycle to pay. For example, the duties on goods imported between July 1 and July 31 will be summed at the end of the month. The monthly payment is then not due until the fifteenth business day of the following month – in this example, August 21.

With this additional time, your business can extend cash flow by up to 54 days. The single payment not only makes it much easier to track your finances, but also offers significantly more control over your working capital.

How Can My Business Use PMS for Duty Payments?

Get started with PMS by filling out an application and sending it Sheltered International to review and submit to Customs. In a few weeks you will receive a Payer Unit Number (PUNS) from Custom’s ACH team. Once received, you must forward your PUNS number to Sheltered to complete the activation.

How Can SiShips Help?

To streamline the process even further, our software SiShips generates a duty summary (7501) for each entry throughout the month for accounting and record-keeping. Once the month has closed, a final statement will be provided to review before Customs pulls the duty on the 15th business day the following month. These reports can all be easily accessed through our software. That’s less time that you have to spend on accounting and more time you can devote to supporting your customers and growing your business.

With greater control over your cash flow and a simplified payment process, it’s clear that PMS can be valuable for you and your business.

To learn more about how Sheltered International can help finesse your freight forwarding experience, contact us today.

0 Continue Reading →

How a Partnership with Sheltered International Can Grow Your Business Internationally

Gain Support and Build Customer Relationships with Sheltered International

Though international expansion can often mean untapped business opportunity, many domestic shipping providers don’t have the expertise or resources to take this step. Delivering years of experience in the international shipping industry, Sheltered International can help. With support, training, and access to our white-label software SiShips, small businesses can grow globally. Read on to learn how partnering with Sheltered International can instantly streamline your international expansion.

Simplifying International Expansion for Independent Businesses

international shipping sishipsOur technology platform SiShips simplifies all steps of global shipping, from quoting to tracking to billing. With the software, agents and their clients gain freight forwarding and customs brokerage services in 819 cities across 190 countries. This also makes it possible to produce instant international quotes for shipments, providing clients with the information they need immediately. Questions or obstacles are managed by Sheltered International’s team of industry experts, who are always available to provide support and training.

Plus, SiShips includes powerful tracking technology, allowing the user to track and manage both ocean freight and air freight shipments internationally. With this straightforward freight management, agents can increase sales and expand their business, leveraging relationships with existing customers to serve their international needs. Even better, agents that partner with Sheltered International can also earn a commission, just for using and sharing this software. “Our reps are among the best and brightest in the country,” says Sheltered International President Andrew Ciccarone, “Every day I’m amazed to see how their dedication to customer service. It’s this passion that connects Sheltered with opportunity in countless industries and global supply chains; and vice versa.”

How Our Partner Easy Logistics Management Uses SI Ships

Jeremy Curran, owner and founder of Easy Logistics Management is one of Sheltered International’s partners. While his company utilizes a variety of software programs, he believes SiShips is unique. “I personally haven’t seen a product like that,” he says, “The all-in-one-screen platform – it’s like Travelocity for global logistics.”

Jeremy’s choice of Travelocity for comparison isn’t surprising; he’s an avid traveler, and his passion for adventure has guided his niche in logistics management. He specializes in working with industries that align with his passions, including surf and paddleboards, bikes, solar energy equipment, and snow sports equipment. SiShips has helped him simplify complicated international shipping and offer clients a global range of options. Key to growing his business is the ability to communicate simply and understand client needs, answering questions, determining customer pain points, and identifying what needs fixing seamlessly.

“The ability to see international and global logistics in real-time is a huge selling point. It makes it easier to articulate the value proposition to the clients, visually showing them the tool and how it rates,” he says. After working as an outside sales rep for a large shipping company for three years, Jeremy set out on his own in 2009. His team works remotely, so SiShips’ visual nature has made it easier to communicate and grow the company. He says that software development, which has made business easy, scalable, and transparent, is central to his staying in logistics. “None of us work in the same office,” he says, “If we were still faxing, I don’t think I’d still be doing this.”

Using Technology to Streamline Freight Forwarding

Jeremy is just one of many agents who have discovered the power of our technology. From California to Florida, our domestic partners have enjoyed a streamlined freight forwarding experience, bolstered by extensive systems of knowledge and support. With SiShips’ transparency and expert-designed interface, global expansion is more attainable than ever before, easing the stress of growing your business and giving you more time to develop long-lasting relationships with customers.

If you’re an independent shipping agent or logistics manager and you’d like to expand your business internationally, contact us today to learn more about SiShips can work for you.

0 Continue Reading →

How Importers Are Navigating Regulations to Reduce the US PPE Shortage

Sheltered International Donates 3,000 Face Masks to Nassau County First Responders

As medical-grade masks become increasingly rare in the United States, many importers are turning to the PPE category in an attempt to reduce the shortage. However, businesses unfamiliar with the process of importing medical equipment may encounter obstacles with FDA registration and licensing, delaying the much-needed shipments further. With years of expertise in the freight industry, Sheltered International can help facilitate this importing process to ensure medical personnel and first responders can access this necessary equipment as soon as possible.

With this knowledge, Sheltered International has imported 3,000 surgical masks and 100 face shields, to be donated to local Nassau County first responders. Chief Hurley of the Fernandina Beach Police Department, Sheriff Leeper of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, and Kaleigh Simmons of the Fernandina Beach Fire Department will each receive 1,000 masks.

The Availability of Personal Protective Equipment

Though personal protective equipment is available, it is in limited quantities. Many importers new to the medical supply industry are looking to place large orders of surgical masks in numbers of five million or more. With only several factories in China producing medical-grade masks, this order can be difficult to fulfill. Instead, Sheltered International suggests placing smaller orders weekly, particularly for those new to the industry. An order of 50,000 masks a week is both more manageable and more likely to be filled.

Managing FDA Registration

To expedite the import of PPE, the FDA has reduced the amount of information required to register products for nonmedical use; however, for medical use both the factory and importer of record must register with the FDA. For the importer, this license costs $5,238. Sheltered International is available to help importers navigate the registration process, saving them valuable time and ensuring their shipment doesn’t get caught in customs.

Importers must also remember that both they and the shipper need FDA registrations. Though many factories, including toy factories and clothing companies, have converted their facilities to make surgical masks, these factories are often not FDA registered. As such, they cannot ship or market their masks for medical purposes. If looking to import as a medical supplier, importers can ask Sheltered International to confirm FDA registration of the factory.

Chinese Restrictions on Medical Exports

On April 10, China issued additional restrictions on exports, including a mandatory customs inspection. These policies affect any medical supplies, including medical masks, protective gowns, thermometers, ventilators, surgical caps, goggles, gloves, shoe covers, ICU monitors, disinfectant tissue, and disinfectant.

New restrictions require the shipper to provide an 18-digit Code of Customs Clearance Form of Export Commodity for customs clearance, attained after the product receives its export commodity inspection, or CIQ. If the shipper’s name is not the same as the factory’s, a contract must be established between the shipper and producer. These codes are required per shipment and can take at minimum two to three working days; however, with a significant uptick in applications anticipated after these new restrictions were established, this timeline may extend to five to seven days, though the application can be done during production. Though they are likely to slow production and importing of PPE, advocates of the restrictions say these regulations have been established to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the market.

Facilitating Imports of PPE

For importers unfamiliar with the medical supply industry, registering with the FDA and securing the necessary documentation can be overwhelming. With years of experience in customs and freight shipments, Sheltered International can offer valuable insight into facilitating this process and guaranteeing these much-needed supplies can be delivered to those who need them.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can ease your import experience.

0 Continue Reading →

Fernandina Beach Observer – Upstairs, Downtown: Sheltered International

Sheltered International Featured in Fernandina Beach Observer


As people stroll along Fernandina Beach’s Centre Street, window shopping and enjoying their ice cream cones, most are oblivious to what’s happening on the second floors of all those historic buildings.  There are architects, insurance agents, attorneys, various consultants and other service providers conducting business above the retail shops.

One of the more intriguing upstairs businesses we found recently is Sheltered International.  From the name you would be hard put to guess what it does.  Tents?  Animal shelters?  Hurricane shelters?  The answer is none of the above.  But its staff works literally all over the world to move freight from country to country, into and out of the world’s ports, helping businesses receive and supply goods that eventually enter the retail market place.  And thanks to the wonders of technology, they can move tons of goods daily from a small office over Fantastic Fudge at 1 South Third Street.

Sheltered International is a fully licensed U.S. Customs Brokerage, NVOCC and Freight Forwarder at all airports, seaports, and land border points nationwide. It focuses on technology to improve service for all shipping whether by air, ocean, rail, or truck.

Their technology solutions provide clients with complete visibility from quoting to tracking, reducing the need to wait on emails and phone calls. SiShips.com, their proprietary online platform helps clients instantly rate and track cargo.

Company president Andrew Ciccarone, a graduate of Fernandina Beach High School and Florida State University heads up the company team. After college and a brief stints working for ZZ Toys on Centre Street and other businesses, Ciccarone became intrigued with the import-export business and decided to strike out on his own. He became a licensed customs broker and developed the architecture for a software system that could manage and track the logistics of moving products from manufacturers to markets while navigating shipping options, time frames and customs in a way that dramatically reduced the traditional time such shipping would take.

Local companies that use their services include Venus Fashion, a Jacksonville clothing company and Well Traveled Living, a Fernandina Beach based company.  And for those devotees of petanque, Philippe Boets of Petanque America imports petanque boules and related merchandise for online sales using Sheltered International’s services.

Ciccarone says that a major portion of Sheltered International’s business involves importing clothing and consumer goods much of which comes from Asia through the Port of Los Angeles.  The bulk of their local business involves exporting:  shipping to Bermuda via the Port of Fernandina.

Sheltered International’s Fernandina office is company headquarters; however, they have a branch office in Bogota, Colombia.  Both offices are connected electronically via TV screens so that the company’s total workforce of nine can see and hear all the company’s activities simultaneously.  Since Bogota is in the same time zone, it further improves communication between offices.

For more information about Sheltered International, including career opportunities, visit their website.


Suanne Thamm Fernandina BeachEditor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

4 Continue Reading →