Shipping: I want to import five large containers of shoes from Italy to the US. What are my options to find out the cheapest prices for the quality I want?
You need a freight forwarder. When you say containers do you mean actual shipping containers or cartons/boxes of shoes. I have sent 1000's of shoes from Italy to the USA. Problem with shoes is that they take up a lot of volume and freight costs are all based on volume calculations. You will also need a customs broker. Many times the freight forwarders have their own customs broker in house which you can use to clear your goods through US Customs. By the way, US Customs is now Dept. of Homeland Security and Border Protection. You will need to pay the customs bill directly to the broker and they will pay US Customs on your behalf. There is no wiggle room here. You must pay on the exact date US Customs wants the money or there are HUGE penalties. You will also need to post a bond. You cannot import without this. The Customs broker will give you all the details. They will also need a power-of-attorney to make decisions on your behalf involving customs. You must know the composition of the materials in the shoes and how the shoes are put together. Are they made from leather, canvas, rubber, cement etc. If you import any exotic material such as snakeskin, crocodile, stingray, lizard, your shipment will be held pending inspection by Dept of Fish and Wildlife. You need a yearly permit to import those items into the USA. Get it before you import anything if you plan on using these materials at any time. After Fish and Wildlife clear your shipment then Dept. of Homeland Security and Border Protection need to clear it as usual. Allow for delays here. If this is a one time import for your company you can pay to post a bond for a one time import. If you will regularly do this, it pays to set up an account with US Customs (pay fees) as to not have to post a bond each time.To name a few forwarders that specialize only in shipping clothing type goods from Italy : Savino Del Bene, Franco Vago, Port Brokers (that's their name) and JAS. Don't forget the biggies: DHL, UPS and Fedex. Do not count the biggies out. They are competitive and offer a great service because every step can be tracked online. They all have their own fleets of planes unlike freight forwarders who are using commercial carriers such as Delta, KLM, Alitalia, Lufthansa etc. I always had good luck with JAS and DHL depending on the size of the shipment. Freight forwarders are usually cheaper than the big carriers. That does not mean better service. Not all forwarders can send goods from all ports. They may need to truck your goods over land to get to a port. Guess who pays for over land trucking? You! Unless you cut a deal to have it all in the price you agree upon.When the goods clear customs you will have to arrange for shipment from the freight forwarder to your final destination in the USA. Do not assume the goods will be delivered to your door for the price you were quoted. Some forwarders have their own truckers and charge for the delivery on top of the import. Others may just ship the goods to you UPS once they are cleared. Most forwarders are on the coasts or in main points of entry in the USA. Since I am in NYC, there are many main points of entry. NY ports for freight by sea. JFK and Newark Liberty airports for shipments by air. I always shipped by air. By sea, even though cheaper, takes too long. Fedex has a special phone toll free number for cheap forwarding by air. They give you an immediate quote. Why is it cheap or cheaper? Reason is they need to fill up their planes. If you call in with 3 large cartons they might just have that exact space on a flight leaving Italy and will give you next day or 2-day air for a very low price because they want your freight US bound to fill up the last available space.Here is my contact info if you have any more detailed questions. I imported all types of goods from Italy over the last 30 years, mainly luxury menswear, including shoes. The forwarders I named all have offices in major US and European cities, especially Italy. Good luck. Philip Pravda Founder, http://www.suitcafe.com.