How to Ship to Puerto Rico

Posted by Luis Ariza on July 18, 2019 - 10:41 AM
Shipping containers at the San Juan, Puerto Rico port

What you need to know about shipping to Puerto Rico

When you’re shipping to Puerto Rico, there’s no reason to feel like you’re on an island. Though more than 1,000 miles separate it from the southern tip of Florida, shipping freight there isn’t difficult. In fact, it’s not very different from shipping to any contiguous U.S. state. You just need to plan for different transit schedules and provide some additional documentation.

How it works

As mentioned, shipping to Puerto Rico is as simple as shipping anywhere else in the United States — there’s just an added step of crossing the ocean. Here’s the basic process:

  • Freight is picked up and moved to a consolidation center near the port in Jacksonville, FL
  • From there, it’s loaded onto a container ship
  • It sails to the Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Once it arrives, the freight is unloaded, processed and sent out for delivery

Common questions around shipping to Puerto Rico

What documentation and information is required for shipments to Puerto Rico?

You’ll need a standard bill of lading, a commercial invoice, and an Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing (if the declared value of the shipment exceeds $2,500).

The commercial invoice should include:

  • Description and value of the goods
  • Consignee’s name, address and phone number
  • Tax bond number or tax-exempt identification, if available

If an EEI is required, most carriers can file it for you for a small fee. You can also file on your own through the U.S. Census Bureau Automated Export System (AES).

The EEI includes:

  • The Schedule B number for your freight (available through the U.S. Census Bureau website)
  • Shipment description, weight and dimensions
  • Declared value of the shipment
  • Shipper and consignee name, address and phone number
  • Tax ID (EIN number) or tax-exempt confirmation
  • Shipment license information and Export Classification Control Number (if needed)

Are shipments from the contiguous U.S. to Puerto Rico considered exports?

The easy answer is “no.” The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and the borders are open — allowing for the unrestricted movement of goods. So these shipments are considered domestic goods, not exports. 

Do I have to pay taxes or fees on goods shipped to Puerto Rico?

Though shipments to Puerto Rico do not need to clear customs, they are subject to a sales tax based on the value of the goods (noted on the commercial invoice). Shipments must be declared and released by the Puerto Rico Tax Department before they can be delivered.

The tax rate imposed on most goods going into Puerto Rico (excluding food and medical supplies) is 10.5 percent. The local treasury agency levies this tax, and the recipient pays the tax when the goods arrive in San Juan. For more information on taxed goods, call the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in San Juan at 787-729-6950 or 787-729-6980.

Ship to Puerto Rico with ease

If you ship to the island frequently, partnering with a carrier that offers experience, support and multiple weekly sailings is critical. ArcBest® has the experience and services you need to manage your Puerto Rico shipments.

With ArcBest, you get:

  • Twice-weekly sailings out of Jacksonville, Florida
  • Door-to-door service across the entire island
  • Access to a staffed service center in San Juan
  • The benefits of shipping through a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), including potential savings on duties and taxes
  • The benefits of shipping to a Centralized Examination Station (CES)

Learn more about shipping to Puerto Rico with ArcBest.

Need more information?

For more information about shipping to Puerto Rico, call ArcBest customer solutions at 800-610-5544. We’ll help answer questions, provide guidance, and explain the multiple service options ArcBest offers to and from Puerto Rico.


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