Shipping goods from the U.S. to Sri Lanka? Why, it's as easy as riding a bike... across the Atlantic. However, deciphering freight rates, transit times, and the maze of customs regulations often leaves businesses puzzled.

This guide is designed as a compass to navigate the intricacies of global shipping. We will walk you through the different forms of cargo transport, including air, sea, and road. You'll learn how to master the art of customs clearance, duties, and taxes, while gaining access to valuable insights custom-made for business needs.

If the process still feels overwhelming, let DocShipper handle it for you! As an international freight forwarder, we are proficient in turning these daunting challenges into stepping stones to your business success.

Table of Contents

Which are the different modes of transportation between US and Sri Lanka?

Choosing the best mode of transport for shipping goods from the US to Sri Lanka relies on understanding the pros and cons of each method, and factoring in distance, time, and costs.

Given that these two countries are divided by vast waters and continents, options like road and rail transport may not be the best fit. Instead, businesses may want to consider sea or air freight.

The vast Pacific Ocean may seem like a barrier, but in freight forwarding, it's actually a path that leads to trade opportunities. Think of this as choosing between a speedy jet plane versus a massive cargo ship.

How can DocShipper help?

Stressed about shipping from the US to Sri Lanka? DocShipper is your invaluable ally, tackling everything, be it sea or air freight, customs clearance, or paperwork. Our dedicated team is round the clock ready to demystify your shipping concerns. Want a free estimate under 24 hours? Need answers? Reach out to our experts now.


sea-freight-services from and to the USA

Sea freight from and to the US

Sea freight between US and Sri Lanka

Trade between the US and Sri Lanka thrives via the mighty blue, connecting essential cargo ports across continents. Despite being the slowest candidate on the race track of transportation methods, for businesses dealing with high-volume goods, ocean shipping surely crowns itself as the cost-effectiveness king. From the heartbeat of American business industry, the Port of Los Angeles, to the cradle of Sri Lankan trade, the Port of Colombo, the oceanic route has a tale of its own.

However, this tale is not without its share of dragon-sized challenges. Like a puzzle that can leave even the smartest players scratching their heads, shippers often stumble upon difficulties in crossing the sea of customs regulations and specific shipping protocols.

Missteps can turn costly, echoing the sentiment, Lost at sea. But fret not! As we dive into this section, we will unravel these complexities, unwinding the ropes of proper shipping practices. Stay tuned, as this guide helps you sail smooth on your voyage of international trade.

Main shipping ports in US

Los Angeles Port

Location and Volume: The Port of Los Angeles, strategically located in California, is considered the busiest container port in the United States. With a shipping volume of over 8.63 million TEU in 2023 alone, it's a crucial hub for international trade.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: Being the powerhouse of the western hemisphere, it has integral ties with prominent trading partners like China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan. The port plays a strategic role in trans-Pacific trade, serving over a billion dollars of cargo each day.

Context for Businesses: If you're considering to tap into the Asian market, the Los Angeles Port could be an instrumental part of your export strategy given its substantial capacity and efficient connections with vast trans-Pacific routes.

Long Beach Port

Location and Volume: Situated in California, the Port of Long Beach ranks second in container volume among U.S. ports. It handled 7.8 million TEUs in 2023.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: It's strong trading relationships span across the globe, but heavily concentrate on Asia, with systems in place supporting significant ties with China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Context for Businesses: If your business intends to exploit preferential access to the proliferating markets of Asia, the Long Beach Port( presents an advantageous proposition with its well-equipped infrastructure and a richly-networked hub.

New York Port

Location and Volume: Situated within the Hudson River in New York Harbor, it is the busiest port on the Eastern Seaboard with a shipping volume over 3 million TEU annually.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: Its major trading partners consist of China, India, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands. The port is strategically important for international commerce and is renowned for handling the largest import/export volumes among east coast ports.

Context for Businesses: For businesses striving to propagate in European and Asian markets, the New York Port can be pivotal to your logistics, given its substantial containership capacity and competitive shipping times.


Savannah Port

Location and Volume: Located in Savannah, Georgia, the Port of Savannah is the fourth busiest container port in the U.S., with a volume surpassing 4.9 million TEUs in 2023.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: This port operates with key trading partners such as China, Germany, Vietnam, India, and Italy. The port is particularly strategic for trade with burgeoning economies due to its expansive intermodal capabilities.

Context for Businesses: If you're planning to venture into burgeoning Asian and European markets, then the Savannah Port might align with your shipping strategy, given its rapidly growing infrastructure and intermodal connectivity.

Houston Port

Location and Volume: Nestled in Texas, the Port of Houston - the fastest-growing container port in the U.S. - moved roughly 3.8 million TEUs in 2023.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: Major trading constituents include China, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, and South Korea. It’s a strategic hub, essential for petrochemical trade and boasts the largest foreign trading reach in the US.

Context for Businesses: Businesses dealing with the energy sector or aiming for solid links with South American and Asian markets might find the Houston Port optimally beneficial due to its expertise in handling bulk liquid cargo and its geographical proximity to these markets.

Oakland Port

Location and Volume: Located on the San Francisco Bay, this port maintains a steady shipping volume around 2.5 million TEU per year.

Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: It predominantly trades with China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Its strategic importance lies in its direct access to the Pacific Rim trade routes and its specialization in trans-Pacific trade.

Context for Businesses: If your business outlook is westward and focused on cultivating relations in the Pacific Rim, the Oakland Port would most likely fit into your strategics, courtesy of its direct sea-routes and advanced rail connections.

Main shipping ports in Sri Lanka

Port of Colombo

Location and Volume: Situated strategically in the Indian Ocean, the Port of Colombo is the largest and busiest port in Sri Lanka and a hub for container handling, serving approximately 7 million TEUs annually.
Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: The port has strong trade relations with Indian subcontinent countries, East Asia, Middle East, and Europe. Its strategic importance lies in its capacity to serve ultra-large container vessels and being a transshipment hub for these regions.
Context for Businesses: If you're planning to expand business operations in South Asia or need cost-effective Asian transshipment, then leveraging the Port of Colombo could be a crucial element in your logistics strategy due to its size, capacity, and central location.

Galle Port

Location and Volume: The Galle Port lies in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka and holds historical significance. In terms of volume, it handles a lower cargo flow compared to Colombo, specializing mostly in passenger cruise operations and yacht services.
Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: Key trading partners are centered around the tourist cruise industry, including countries from Europe and the Middle East. The strategic import of Galle Port lies primarily in its tourism revenue.
Context for Businesses: If your company is operating in the tourism or yachting industry or shipping goods that align with these sectors, the Galle Port could be beneficial due to its focus on passenger cruises and maritime services.

Hambantota Port

Location and Volume: The Hambantota Port is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, making it an ideal link between East and West. It handles nearly 1 million TEUs annually.
Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: The key trading stakeholders are in China and the Middle East, mainly because of their investments in port infrastructure and operations. Its strategic importance lies in its massive land area, deepwater capabilities, and free port policy.
Context for Businesses: If your business has large volumes of cargo to transport or if you're entering markets in the Middle East and China, the Hambantota Port's high-capacity handling and favorable policies could make it an excellent choice for your shipping strategy.

Trincomalee Port

Location and Volume: Located in the northeastern part of the country, Trincomalee Port is one of the largest natural harbors globally, though its commercial functionality is comparatively limited.
Key Trading Partners and Strategic Importance: Primary trading partners are localized, and the port's strategic importance is primarily vested in its potential for development due to its deep natural harbor.
Context for Businesses: If you're looking at longer-term opportunities, investing in or partnering with operations in the Trincomalee Port might be a rewarding avenue due to its untapped potential and natural maritime advantages.

Please remember to further investigate the ports' specific capacity and policies before making any shipping decisions, as these can vary and potentially impact your business's logistics strategy.

Unlock hassle-free shipping

Streamlining your shipments from the US to Sri Lanka can be daunting - but it doesn't have to be. With DocShipper, say goodbye to logistical hassles! Our expert freight forwarders are adept at understanding multiple factors such as volume, weight, and urgency of your shipment to choose between consolidation or a full container method. Let us pinpoint the best ocean freight solution tailored to your business! Ready to simplify cargo shipping? Reach out to us for a free estimation!


How long does sea freight take between US and Sri Lanka?

Sea freight shipping from the US to Sri Lanka usually takes about 20 to 60 days, varying due to numerous factors like the specific port of origin and destination, weight, and nature of the goods. To get an accurate estimate of the transit time for your shipment, it's recommended to seek a personalized quote from a freight forwarder like DocShipper.

Here's a table indicating the average transit times between the four major ports in each country (assuming each country has four ports). Please note that these are just approximations and actual shipping times might vary:

US Ports Sri Lanka Ports Average Transit Time (Days)
Port of Los Angeles Port of Colombo 35
Port of New York Galle Port 49
Port of Houston Hambantota Port 55
Port of Savannah Trincomalee Portht 23

*Please note that these are estimations and actual transit times may vary.

How much does it cost to ship a container between US and Sri Lanka?

Calculating the shipping cost between the US and Sri Lanka is no simple equation. The wide-ranging ocean freight rates can fall anywhere between $45 to $75 per CBM. Why such a broad spectrum, you might wonder?

Your point of loading, destination, chosen carrier, nature of your goods, and the ever-shifting monthly market trends all play pivotal roles. We assure you that our dedicated shipping specialists always strive to present the best rates possible, tailoring each quote case-by-case to match your specific needs.

Remember, in international shipping, customization is the key, and we're well-versed in the art of personalized freight forwarding.

Special transportation services

Out of Gauge (OOG) Container

Definition: An Out of Gauge container, or OOG container, is specially designed for items that exceed standard container dimensions. These containers typically have flat racks with sides that can be folded to accommodate your larger cargo.
Suitable for: OOG containers are optimal for oversized items, such as heavy machinery, industrial equipment, construction materials, etc.
Examples: Transporting an excavator from a US manufacturer to a construction company in Sri Lanka would be a prime example of when to use an out of gauge cargo option.
Why it might be the best choice for you: If your cargo cannot be disassembled and exceeds conventional container dimensions, OOG is the way to go.

Break Bulk

Definition: This traditional method of shipping refers to cargo which is loaded, shipped and unloaded piece by piece, rather than in containers.
Suitable for: Ideal for larger, non-containerized items such as timber, construction equipment, and large vehicles.
Examples: Shipping a yacht from a US port to a harbor in Sri Lanka would typically be done using break bulk methods.
Why it might be the best choice for you: If your goods aren't suited for containers but aren't sufficiently large or heavy for OOG, break bulk is a flexible and reliable solution.

Dry Bulk

Definition: This shipping method involves loose cargo load, such as grain, coal, or other granular materials, that is packed directly into a ship's hold rather than in containers.
Suitable for: Commodities in large quantities and raw materials.
Examples: Bulk shipment of rice from Sri Lanka to the US would be a fitting usage of the Dry Bulk method.
Why it might be the best choice for you: Dry Bulk shipping is ideal if you deal in large volumes of unpackaged, raw materials.

Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro)

Definition: Ro-Ro vessels are ships designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars, that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle.
Suitable for: Best suited for wheeled cargo like automobiles, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars.
Examples: Shipping a fleet of electric cars from a US manufacturer to Sri Lanka dealerships would generally be done via a ro-ro vessel.
Why it might be the best choice for you: If your cargo is mobile and doesn't fit easily into a container, Ro-Ro provides a safe and efficient shipping solution.

Reefer Containers

Definition: Reefer containers are refrigerated containers used to transport temperature-sensitive cargo.
Suitable for: Ideal for perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, pharmaceuticals and any other temperature-sensitive commodities.
Examples: Shipping US-made pharmaceuticals requiring specific temperature control would utilize a reefer container to ensure product integrity during transit.
Why it might be the best choice for you: If temperature control is crucial for your shipment, the technology and insulation of a reefer container offer you the peace of mind you need.

Remember, understanding your cargo and its specific needs is essential for choosing the correct shipping method. At DocShipper, we are available 24/7 to help you find the best solution customized to your unique shipping needs. Connect with us today for a free, no-obligation shipping quote.

air-freight-services from and to the USA

Air freight from and to the US

Air freight between US and Sri Lanka

If you're sending smaller, expensive goods like electronics or pharmaceuticals from the US to Sri Lanka, the speed and dependability of air freight can be a real game-changer. It might seem pricier upfront, but think of it like buying an express ticket for your goods! And guess what? You're not just paying for speed, but also for added safety.

But wait, before you start loading that plane, let's clear something up. Many businesses jump onto air freight without checking all the boxes, like understanding how to correctly calculate shipping costs (it’s not just about actual weight, dimensional weight matters too!).

Skipping essential steps can result in a surprise invoice that's heavier than expected. We'll help you streamline this process and avoid these nasty surprises. We're all about making your air freight journey smooth sailing...or should we say smooth flying?

Air Cargo vs Express Air Freight: How should I ship?

Inching closer to your latest consignment from the US to Sri Lanka and wondering about the best air freight option? Let's clear the air: air cargo implies sharing space on a commercial airline, while express air freight means booking a dedicated plane - a bit like carpooling versus getting a private cab.

This quick guide is tailored to help you gauge which option fits snugly around your business-specific needs. Stay tuned!

Should I choose Air Cargo between US and Sri Lanka?

Opting for air cargo shipping between the US and Sri Lanka can be both cost-effective and reliable. Prominent airlines such as American Airlines in the US and SriLankan Airlines provide notable services.

Although transit times can be longer due to fixed schedules, this option becomes more attractive for shipments over 100/150 kg (220/330 lbs). It's an ideal choice if you're looking at budget-friendly and trustworthy freight services. Balancing these factors, air cargo might just be the match for your business shipping needs.

top global air freight companies in the U.S.

Should I choose Express Air Freight between US and Sri Lanka?

When transporting smaller cargo quantities under 1 cubic meter (CBM) or 100/150 kg (220/330 lbs), express air freight becomes highly beneficial. Offered by reputed couriers like FedEx, UPS, and DHL, these services operate with dedicated cargo planes, ensuring swift, reliable deliveries.

If your business requires urgent shipments, or if your cargo is particularly fragile, choosing express air freight between the US and Sri Lanka might be your best bet. This service minimizes transit times, perfect for meeting tight deadlines while delivering your goods in the most efficient manner. Choose express air freight for time-sensitive or high-value shipments to optimize your business operations.

Top global courier express companies in the U.S.

How long does air freight take between US and Sri Lanka?

When it comes to air freight shipping between the US and Sri Lanka, it typically takes around 3-10 days. However, this transit timing isn't set in stone. The exact duration tends to vary greatly, influenced heavily by factors such as the specific airports involved in the transport, the weight of your shipment, and the nature of the goods being shipped. For a more accurate timetable catered to your specifics, it's recommended to consult directly with a freight forwarder like DocShipper.

What is the difference between volumetric and gross weight?

Gross weight is the actual weight of your shipment, including packaging and pallets, measured in kilograms. Volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a pricing technique for commercial freight transport, which uses an estimated weight based on the package's length, width, and height.

To calculate the gross weight of your shipment in air cargo and express air freight, you simply weigh your shipment (including packaging, pallets, etc.) on a heavy-duty freight scale. For example, if you're shipping five boxes each weighing 10 Kg, your gross weight is 50 Kg (roughly 110 lbs).

The volumetric weight is computed per cm³ using the formula (Length x Width x Height)/6000 for air cargo or (Length x Width x Height)/5000 for express air freight. Consider shipping boxes each sized 50 cm (Length) x 50 cm (Width) x 50 cm (Height). For air cargo, the volumetric weight becomes 20.833 Kg (roughly 45.98 lbs), while for express air freight, it's 25 Kg (around 55.12 lbs).

Understanding these weight calculations is crucial as freight charges are based on the higher of the two weights - gross or volumetric. You are charged according to the space your shipment takes up or its actual weight, whichever is greater. This ensures the carrier's efficiency and profitability while shipping your goods.

Door to Door Transport from and to the USA

Door to door transport from and to the US

Door to door between US and Sri Lanka

International Door to Door shipping is a comprehensive service where goods are picked up from a location in the US and delivered directly to a destination in Sri Lanka. Embracing this option affords convenience, efficiency, and minimal risk - key perks when moving goods across continents. So, ready to unveil the magic of Door to Door shipping? Let's dive in!

Overview – Door to Door

Shipping between the US and Sri Lanka can be a logistical puzzle. Door to door shipping cuts through that complexity, offering a hassle-free solution that sees your goods whisked from source to destination seamlessly.

With the responsibility for handling logistics, customs clearance and delivery, it's no wonder this is the top choice for DocShipper's clients! It's not perfect, though. You might face higher costs and longer delivery times compared to other options.

But, for many, the trade-off is worth it for peace of mind and streamlined operations. Ready for a smooth shipping journey? Let's delve deeper.

Why should I use a Door to Door service between US and Sri Lanka?

Ever juggled flaming chainsaws while riding a unicycle on a tightrope? No? Well, coordinating international freight can feel a bit like that! Luckily, using a Door to Door service between the US and Sri Lanka can spare you the circus act. Here's why:

1. Wash Your Hands Off Logistics Stress: Imagine waving goodbye to your shipment at your warehouse and the next time you see it is at your customer's location in Sri Lanka. Our Door to Door service takes care of everything, from pickup to delivery, easing your logistics stress.

2. Always on Time for the Show: Have a crucial deadline to meet? No worries! With our well-networked service, we guarantee timely delivery even for the most urgent shipments.

3. Jungle-Proof your Exotic Cargo: Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, can also be a complex jungle when it comes to specific, exotic, or fragile cargo. Our Door to Door service provides specialized care ensuring your goods navigate this jungle unhurt.

4. Keep Track, Not the Truck: Don't want to get entangled in the intricate road network of Sri Lanka? We've got it. Our service includes handling the trickiest part of shipping - the trucking from the port until the final destination.

5. The Full Package under One Roof: With our Door to Door service, you get to consolidate all your needs with one provider. It adds a layer of convenience as we handle the transport, customs paperwork, duties, and language barriers while you just sip on some authentic Ceylon tea.

So, why juggle fiery chainsaws when you can pass the baton to us and enjoy the show? Choose our Door to Door service and experience a stress-free shipping journey.

DocShipper – Door to Door specialist between US and Sri Lanka

Experience a seamless, worry-free door-to-door shipping service from the US to Sri Lanka with DocShipper. Our dedicated team, boasting stellar proficiency in global shipping, handle all aspects of your freight forwarding needs - be it packing, customs clearance, or selecting the best mode of transport.

We coordinate with experts in each stage, ensuring a smooth journey for your goods. No need to sweat over the logistics; a dedicated Account Executive is just a call away. Contact us for a personalized, free estimate in under 24 hours and liberate your business from shipping headaches.

Customs Clearance in the U.S.

Customs Clearance US

Customs clearance in Sri Lanka for goods imported from US

Customs clearance is the process of getting approval to import goods. It's a complex labyrinth of fees, and charges and understanding customs duties, taxes, quotas, and licenses is paramount. Missteps could end up costing you more or, worse leave your goods stuck in customs.

In Sri Lanka, when importing from the US, these issues can be particularly intricate. The following sections will provide practical insights to navigate this process more efficiently. Luckily, you're not alone.

DocShipper can handle the entire process for all kinds of goods anywhere in the world. By providing your goods' origin, value, and HS Code, our team can offer detailed budget estimates. Feel free to contact us for further assistance and guidance.

How to calculate duties & taxes when importing from US to Sri Lanka?

Estimating duties and taxes when importing goods from the US to Sri Lanka is a process that might seem daunting at first, but understanding a few key components streamlines the whole operation.

Essentially, it's all about knowing your product's country of origin, its Harmonized System (HS) code, the customs value, the applicable tariff rate, and considering any other taxes or fees that may apply to your consignment. Each of these factors contributes to the final sum you'll be expected to pay for customs clearance.

The adventure begins with identifying where your goods were born - the country they were manufactured or produced in. This sets the stage for all forthcoming calculations, ensuring each step you take is based on solid, credible information.

Amid a sea of numbers and documentation, it's your product's origin that first begins to shape your import duties and taxes landscape, paving the way for a smoother shipping journey.

Step 1 - Identify the Country of Origin

Understanding the Country of Origin is a critical first step in the import process. Here’s why:

1. Trade Agreements: US - Sri Lanka Bilateral Trade and Investment Framework agreement allows for duty-free entry on some items. So, it could be a game-changer for your cost calculations!
2. HS Codes: HS code for your product can fluctuate based on the country of origin, altering the duty and tax charges.
3. Import Restrictions: The product's country of origin may come under certain restrictions or specific requirements when importing to Sri Lanka.
4. Counterfeit Goods: Ensuring the true origination helps avoid counterfeit or prohibited products.
5. Preferential Rates: Some trading blocs offer preferential rates, potentially shaving costs off your customs duty.

Remember, underestimating duties and taxes can lead to hidden costs! Always double-check agreements, restrictions, and preferences associated with the product's country of origin. A savvy forwarder like you knows every penny saved can make a massive difference to their bottom line! Keep these points in mind for a smoother import experience. Happy forwarding!

Step 2 - Find the HS Code of your product

The Harmonized System, or HS Code, is a standardized system of names and numbers used by customs authorities globally to classify traded products. It's crucial in determining how much duty will be charged on a product, and it helps standardize trading language internationally.

Now, you may be wondering how to find the HS Code of your product. A straightforward method is to ask your supplier. They're well-versed with the products they're importing and the related regulations.

But what if asking the supplier isn't an option? Worry not, we've got you covered with a simple step-by-step process. First, you need to utilize an HS lookup tool. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule is one excellent example. Once on the site, you'll enter the product's name in the search bar, then look at the Heading/Subheading column where you'll find your HS Code.

Note: It's incredibly important to be accurate when determining your HS Code. Mistakes can lead to shipping delays and potential fines from customs authorities.

Here's an infographic showing you how to read an HS Code. Make sure you're familiar with the structure of these codes as they'll be integral to your shipping ventures. Happy shipping!

hs code finder

Step 3 - Calculate the Customs Value

At first glance, customs value might seem like it's identical to the product's price, but there's more to it. Essentially, it's the price you pay for your goods, yes, but it also includes the cost of international shipping and insurance. While your product might cost $500, shipping could cost an additional $200 and insurance another $30. So, your customs value isn't $500, it's actually $730.

Here's a handy equation for you:

Customs Value = Product Price + Shipping Cost + Insurance

Remember though, this entire sum must be in USD. So, let's say you're importing tech gear into Sri Lanka, you need to calculate this customs value in USD to figure out any potential duties or taxes accurately. It's not just about what you paid for your items, it's also about how much it cost to get them there safely!

Step 4 - Figure out the applicable Import Tariff

Import tariffs, also known as customs duties, are taxes imposed on goods when they cross international borders. For goods coming from the US to Sri Lanka, these duties are usually calculated on the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) value of the goods.

In Sri Lanka, a specific tariff system is employed, applying fixed duties per unit of goods, instead of calculating on the basis of value. To find your goods' applicable tariff, you'll have to do the following:

1. Head to the Sri Lanka Customs website.
2. In their Tariff Section, input the previously identified HS code of your goods.
3. The system will then provide the specific duty applied to that particular product.

As a practical example, let's assume you're importing a piece of equipment classified under HS Code 8471. When you input this code into the system, you may discover that the rate is $50 per item. If your CIF costs to import this item (including shipping and insurance) are $500, the import duty you'll pay will be calculated on the basis of the tariff rate, and not the CIF value. This means your total tax will be $50, irrespective of your CIF.

Understanding the charges in detail helps you forecast your total import costs – this enables effective planning and helps you avoid unexpected expenses. Remember, having a good knowledge of the import tariff system will ease the transportation process and benefit your business in the long run.

Step 5 - Consider other Import Duties and Taxes

So, you've tackled standard tariffs, but the journey doesn't stop there. Import duties can sometimes throw a curveball at you, depending on both the country of origin and the nature of the product. Intriguing, isn't it?

Take excise duties for instance. These are levied on specific goods - think liquor or tobacco. Just to provide a ballpark figure - imagine if you're importing cigars worth $2000, you may face an excise duty of say, 90%. That's an additional $1800 - almost double the cost!

Then, there are anti-dumping taxes, designed to protect local industries from unfairly low foreign pricing. It's like a guard dog, ensuring that global brands don't bulldoze local, smaller ones.

Lastly, let's unravel the VAT rate - the final addition to your customs duty puzzle. In Sri Lanka, this typically hovers around 15%. So, if your total import duty was $450, the VAT could add an extra $67.50 to your bill.

These examples illustrate that when importing goods from a country like the US to Sri Lanka, the numbers game is more complex than it first appears. Hence, it's crucial to consider all these elements while planning your financials. Remember, the contents of this guide are approximate - for precise details, always refer to the most updated customs regulations.

Step 6 - Calculate the Customs Duties

Calculating customs duties in Sri Lanka for your American goods involves several components. The customs value or CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) is the starting point. This includes the cost of product, insurance, and freight charges.

Example 1: If your goods have a CIF of $1,000 with a customs duty rate of 15%, your customs duty will be $150.

When Value Added Tax (VAT) is in the picture, calculate the VAT on the sum of the CIF and customs duties.

Example 2: If your goods CIF is $1,000, your customs duty rate is 15% and the VAT is 8%, you'd pay $70 VAT (8% of $1,000+$150) plus the $150 customs duty.

In situations with customs duties, VAT, anti-dumping taxes, and Excise Duty, calculate the VAT on the sum of CIF, customs duties, and anti-dumping tax, and Excise Duty on the total amount.

Example 3: If your CIF is $1,000, customs duty rate 15%, VAT 8%, anti-dumping tax 4%, and Excise Duty 10%, you'd pay $304 in total.

For hassle-free customs clearance worldwide, DocShipper can guide you through every step. We'll ensure you aren't paying more than you have to. Reach out for a free quote within 24 hours.

Does DocShipper charge customs fees?

At DocShipper, while we oversee the customs duties processes as part of our services in the US and Sri Lanka, these duties are payments made directly to the government, not to us. These are separate from customs clearance fees, for which we charge.

To ensure transparency, we provide you with customs-produced documents proving the exact amounts you paid. So, imagine you're sending a product batch to Sri Lanka; you only pay the government charges, not a cent more, and we handle the nitty-gritty of the procedure for you.

Contact Details for Customs Authorities

Required documents for customs clearance

Untangling the red tape of customs can feel overwhelming. Focus on four key documents: Bill of Lading, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, and Documents of Conformity (CE standard). Understanding these essentials smooths out the path, making shipping less of a headache and more of a breeze.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is your golden ticket when shipping goods from the US to Sri Lanka. It's an all-in-one tool, not only marking the change of ownership of your cargo, but also detailing specifics like quantity, type of goods, and destination.

Missing out on this? Picture losing your GPS mid-journey; it's that critical. Now, if you're all about speed and convenience, consider a 'telex' or electronic release. This digital option sidesteps traditional couriers, delivering the documents straight to your inbox. One-click away, right? Plus, remember, if your cargo prefers soaring in the skies, the AWB (Air Waybill) is its counterpart.

Harness these tools effectively, and you've unsnarled one major knot in your shipping venture. After all, mastering the best practices of documentation is the first step to conquer international trade!

Packing List

Packing List is your shipping buddy when sending goods from the US to Sri Lanka. It's a simple yet crucial document that leaves no room for guesswork in the shipping process. It details what's in the shipment, from the number of items, their description, to their weight and dimensions. It's like a resume for your cargo! Imagine sending a mystery box without one - customs may hold it up, causing delays or even rejection.

Both for sea and air freight - whether you're sending a batch of California almonds or Detroit engines – the Packing List ensures seamless movement by helping customs authorities verify the shipment's content. So accuracy is key, it helps avoid unwanted surprises! Remember: maintaining rigorous transparency in your Packing List can make the difference between a smooth sail and a ship stuck at bay.

Commercial Invoice

A Commercial Invoice is a critical resource when shipping goods from the US to Sri Lanka. It lists vital details like the product description, quantity, value, and the seller & buyer's information. For smooth customs clearance, ensure this invoice aligns perfectly with your packing list and Bill of Lading.

Any discrepancy might delay your shipment or lead to penalties. For example, if you're shipping 100 units of cotton apparel, your invoice should accurately reflect this quantity. It's also a good idea to include an HS Code, as it helps customs authorities to calculate duties promptly.

Successful international shipping is all about accuracy and consistency - keep this mantra in mind while preparing your Commercial Invoice.

Certificate of Origin

Navigating the sea of international shipping rules can be daunting, particularly when dealing with vital documents like the Certificate of Origin. It's more than just a piece of paper, it’s your golden ticket to streamlining the customs process between the US and Sri Lanka. Let's assume you're exporting handmade tables made in the US.

This certificate proves these tables are American-made, an invaluable detail because it can open doors to preferential customs duty rates, saving you a hefty sum on your total shipping costs. So, never underestimate its power. Correctly filling out and presenting this document, especially the country of manufacture, can be the difference between smooth sailing and choppy waters in your shipping journey.

Get Started with DocShipper

Tired of navigating complex customs documentation? Let DocShipper simplify your shipping experience. Our expertise ensures seamless customs clearance between the US and Sri Lanka, streamlining your freight process. Don’t let paperwork slow down your business. Contact us now for a free quote within 24 hours, because we make international shipping worry-free.


Prohibited and Restricted items when importing into Sri Lanka

Understanding Sri Lanka's import regulations can be like solving a complex puzzle. So, before you ship, let's unravel this together to ensure you don't fall foul of prohibited and restricted items, saving you headache and costly customs penalties.

Are there any trade agreements between US and Sri Lanka

Yes, there are significant trade partnerships between the US and Sri Lanka. Although no Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) exists at present, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) allows duty-free entry into the US for certain Sri Lankan goods. Plus, the US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement provides a platform for dialogue on trade-related matters. Be aware, ongoing discussions for further cooperation suggest potential future opportunities for streamlined shipping and trade.

US - Sri Lanka trade and economic relationship

Historically, trade between the US and Sri Lanka traces back several centuries, where the exchange of goods largely concentrated on textiles and tea. In the present day, the trade relationship has diversified significantly, involving sectors like apparel, precious stones, rubber products, and more.

In 2023, the US was Sri Lanka's largest export market, with the bilateral trade valued at $231 million. Key historical milestone? The US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program that boosted Sri Lankan exports significantly.

Additionally, Foreign Direct Investment from the US to Sri Lanka reached approximately $200 million in the same year. This ongoing relationship is central in trade, investment, and economic policymaking between both nations.

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Looking to ship between the US and Sri Lanka but overwhelmed by customs, paperwork, and duty calculations? DocShipper specializes in seamless, affordable, and customizable freight solutions to make your first or next shipping experience stress-free. Ready for hassle-free shipping? Contact us today!


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Dive into DocShipper's comprehensive toolkit - your one-stop-shop for all supply chain needs. From warehousing to delivery, discover how we smooth out logistics, ensuring your business keeps rolling seamlessly. Think beyond shipping; think all-encompassing solutions!