Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers you seek in our FAQs below. If you can’t find what you are looking for, call 800.508.4888 or send us a message.

  • What is a freight forwarder?

    Freight forwarding is a service used by companies that deal in domestic, international or multi-national import and export.

    • While the freight forwarder doesn’t actually move the freight itself, it acts as an intermediary between the client and various transportation services.
    • Sending products from one international destination to another can involve a multitude of carriers, requirements and legalities.
    • A freight forwarding service handles the considerable logistics of this task for the client, relieving what would otherwise be a formidable burden.
  • What are the definitions of a motor carrier, broker and freight forwarder authorities?
    • A motor carrier transports passengers or property for compensation


    • A broker is a person or an entity which arranges for the transportation of property by a motor carrier for compensation. A broker does not transport the property and does not assume responsibility for the property


    • A freight forwarder is a person or entity which holds itself out to the general public to provide transportation of property for compensation and in the ordinary course of its business:
      • Assembles and consolidates, or provides for assembling and consolidating, shipments and performs break-bulk and distribution operations of the shipments
      • Assumes responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination
      • Uses for any part of the transportation a rail, motor or water carrier subject to the jurisdiction of either FMCSA or the Surface Transportation Board
  • What is dimensional weight and how do I calculate it?

    Dimensional weight, also known as volumetric weight, is a pricing technique for commercial air freight transport, which uses a weight that is calculated from the length, width and height of a package.

    The concept of dimensional weight has been adopted by the transportation industry worldwide as a uniform means of establishing a “chargeable weight” for the cubic space a package occupies.

    To compute dimensional weight in kgs for an international air freight package:

    L x W x H (in inches) / 366 OR L x W x H (in cm) / 6000

    The “chargeable weight” is then the greater of the actual, or the dimensional weight.

    Courier services, domestic airlines, and some trucking companies, use their own formulas for computing chargeable weight.

  • What are Incoterms?

    Incoterms are an Internationally recognized set of rules defining the responsibilities of the buyer and seller in the sale/transfer of goods. Incoterms describe the division of risk and cost involved in the delivery of goods between buyer and seller. Click here for more information about Incoterms

  • When can I use a Carnet or Temporary Import?

    A carnet is a document which must be obtained by the shipper (sending party) prior to shipment. This document allows the shipper (carnet holder) to temporarily import a shipment into the destination country without payment of duties or tax. The carnet holder must supply a bond promising to pay duties and taxes if the shipment is not properly exported before the carnet expires. A carnet is generally good for one year from the date of issuance. If someone is sending you a shipment for demonstration purposes, it is a good idea to ask them to ship with a carnet. This will make the sender financially responsible if the shipment is not properly re-exported.

    You can also utilize a carnet for your export shipments. Carnets are particularly useful for trade show shipments and professional equipment to be used abroad.

    A “TIB”, or temporary import bond, is an arrangement between US Customs and a U.S. importer of record, whereby the importer agrees to pay double the usual duty if the shipment is not properly re-exported within one year. If you act as importer of record for a demo shipment under a TIB, and it is not properly re-exported, the U.S. importer, not the party sending the shipment, will be held responsible by U.S. Customs.

  • What is “ISF” and why should I care?

    “ISF” stands for “Importer Security Filing” (also called 10+2, for the number of data elements required). This is an electronic filing made to U.S. customs describing the details of an ocean shipment, and it is typically done by a customs broker.

    • ISF is required for all shipments being imported by ocean, and it must be filed 24 hours BEFORE the shipment boards the arriving vessel on its journey to the U.S. Customs may assess penalties against the importer if this filing is not done timely.
    • ISF requires 10 data elements, some of which may not be readily known by the importer unless arrangements are made in advance (such as the physical address where a shipment is loaded or “stuffed” into the container).
    • When ACS arranges the transport for your shipment, we will automatically obtain the necessary information and ensure the filing is done in a timely manner.
  • What is the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement?

    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require, as a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship for export, that the container has a verified gross mass. The shipper is responsible for the verification of the packed container’s weight. This requirement will become legally effective on July 1, 2016. After that date, it would be a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a vessel if the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have a verified container weight.

    The SOLAS amendments provide that there are two methods shippers may use to determine the container weight once the container packing process has taken place. This requirement will apply globally. Shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators, and terminal operators will all need to establish policies and procedures to ensure the implementation of this regulatory change.

    For more details contact ACS on how to comply with this regulation.

  • How can I get my imported goods to clear through customs faster?

    When ACS arranges a shipment from origin, by any mode of transport, we will know it is coming, and can get answers to questions that must be answered as part of the customs clearance process (or information required by other government agencies such as FDA) in advance of shipment arrival.