"What is the best way to transport merchandise (porcelain, glass, in
general household/kitchenware items) from various cities in Poland to
the United States, specifically Chicagoland."
The good 'ole postal system.
The easiest and most efficient way to ship parcels valued at less
than $2000.00 is via the postal system. In this way, not only is the
cost of shipping alot less than if you used a freight forwarder, but
the parcel will be shipped to your door and no custom broker will be
needed. Your contact in Poland need only make sure there is a
detailed invoice inside the parcel, take the parcel to their post
office, and affix a custom slip to the outside describing the contents
and value. It's also possible that their post office offers a pickup
service. It's also to your advantage to start small (under $1000
value) to learn the ropes, to smooth the way for larger transactions,
and to make sure your Polish contact does everything correctly. You
don't want a shipment of goods worth thousands stuck in customs or
returned for lack of the proper documentation.
"Importers have found that in some cases it is to their advantage to
use the mails to import merchandise into the United States. Some
benefits to be gained are:
* Ease in clearing shipments through Customs. The duties on parcels
valued at $2000 or less are collected by the letter carrier delivering
the parcels to the addressee.
* Savings on shipping charges. Smaller, low-valued packages can often
be sent less expensively through the mails.
* No entry required on duty-free merchandise not exceeding $2000 in value.
* No need to clear shipments personally if under $2000.
Joint Customs and postal regulations provide that all parcel post
packages must have a Customs declaration securely attached giving an
accurate description and the value of the contents. This declaration
is obtained at post offices. Commercial shipments must also be
accompanied by a commercial invoice enclosed in the parcel bearing the
Each mail article containing an invoice or statement cannot
conveniently be enclosed within the sealed article, it may be securely
attached to the article. Failure to comply with any of these
requirements will delay clearance of the shipment through Customs."
To estimate cost, try this link:
Poczta Polska (Polish Postal Service)
To figure out how much duty you'll have to pay, you'll need to do some
research at the Tariff Information Center website. Tariffs depend on
many things (composition, shape, use, value, size, etc), for example,
one glass may have a tariff of 15% and another might be 6.9% even
though they are both used for drinking. The same goes for all types of
tableware, and only you know for sure exactly what you are importing.
Probably the simplest thing to do is to order a small sample of all of
the items, shipped via the USPS, and see what customs charges. If you
want a very (very) rough estimate, use 10% of a parcel valued at $2000
Tariff Information Center
(for example) Chapter 70
Glass and glassware: subsection 7013
>>> Custom Documents
In comparison, here is what you will need if you use a freight carrier:
Someone needs to be at the port of entry to receive the goods. It can
be you or you will need to designate someone (usually a Customs
Broker) to pass the shipment through customs. A broker will be
familiar with the proper protocol, but basically he will need:
Entry Manifest, Customs Form 7533 [broker will supply]
Commercial invoice [from Poland]
Packing lists [from Poland]
* Country of Origin
* Manufacturer or Dealer Identity
US Customs Guide to Importing:
"When a shipment reaches the United States, the importer of record
(i.e.. the owner, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by
the owner, purchaser, or consignee) will file entry documents for the
goods with the district or port director at the port of entry."
"Within five working days of the date of arrival of a shipment at a
U.S. port of entry, entry documents must be filed at a location
specified by the district/area director, unless an extension is
granted. These documents consist of:
* Entry Manifest, Customs Form 7533;...
* Evidence of right to make entry.
* Commercial invoice ...
* Packing lists if appropriate.
* Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility."
Right to Make Entry:
"Customs brokers will prepare and file the necessary Customs entries,
arrange for the payment of the duties found due, take steps to effect
the release of the goods in Customs custody, and otherwise represent
their principals in customs matters. The fees charged for these
services may vary according to the Customs broker and the extent of
Examination of Good and Entry Documents:
"Examination of goods and documents is necessary to determine, among other things:
The value of the goods for Customs purposes and their dutiable status.
Whether the goods must be marked with the country of their origin or
require special marking or labeling. If so, whether they are:
* marked in the manner required.
* Whether the shipment contains prohibited articles.
* Whether the goods are correctly invoiced.
* Whether the goods are in excess of the invoiced quantities or a shortage exists.
* Whether the shipment contains illegal narcotics."
International Shipping Checklist
"Follow these step-by-step guidelines for international shipping
preparation to avoid unnecessary delays as your shipment moves through
the international shipping process."
Certificate of Origin
Shipper's Letter of Instruction
>>> Freight Forwarders
"... if you are importing your goods in small quantities, try to
contact a forwarding company who may have agents in the country where
you are importing. Many forwarders also act as consolidators, i.e.,
they gather small shipments from different shippers and consolidate
them into one 20 feet or 40 feet containers. Then they ship the
containers by SEA freight. Costs are far cheaper than using AIR
freight. Although the shipping time may take longer because there
might not be enough cargo to consolidate and shipped to your
"Welcome to Freightnet the ultimate freight resource for forwarders,
shipping lines, sea port authorities, airlines, airport authorities,
household removers, warehousing, packers and fulfilment, freight
software, track & trace, cargo and marine insurance, recruitment and
Exporters and importers regularly use our freight enquiry email
facility to source freight rates as well as forwarders and others
using the listings to find new contacts for co-operation and
Freight Forwarders in Chicago: search for "Chicago":
Freight Forwarders in Poland:
I hope I've been able to give you a good start. If you have any
questions, please post a clarification request *before* closing/rating
my answer and I'll be happy to reply.
I was able to use my extensive research on the subject.