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Importing & Exporting

Importing and exporting of goods is subject to various U.S. and foreign laws that can be quite complex. University staff and resources are available to guide you through the intricacies of importation and exportation. It is advisable to consult the resources shown below; doing so will ensure that you do not miss important (legal or cost related) details regarding your import or export request. 

Key Contacts and Resources

Imports

Prior to importing goods, contact your procurement specialist for guidance, particularly regarding duties (taxes on imports), freight terms, and duty-free entry of specific scientific equipment. Reminder: Importation is only an option if an equivalent of the item is not available through a University-wide contracted supplier or through a supplier in the U.S.

Managing Duties and Customs Bonds (Costs) 

Duties and customs bonds on imports can significantly increase the costs associated with a purchase. In order to help departments save money on duties, the University has put a continuous bond into place that eliminates the need to bond individual shipments.

The University has also contracted with Priority Worldwide Services (PWS) specifically for customs brokerage services. PWS provides assistance in evaluating and managing imports – particularly in applying the University’s continuous bond to your import. Note: PWS does not handle animal research related imports. 

To utilize the services of PWS for your import, you must contact PWS (imports@priorityworldwide.com) in advance of your shipment and provide the following information. If the following information is not provided in advance of shipment, there is a chance your item will not be cleared by U.S. Customs and you may experience delays and/or incur storage fees:

  • Supplier name
  • PO number
  • The 32-digit account code for your order
  • A main point of contact for your department, including the individual's:
    • Name
    • Phone number
    • E-mail address

For animal research related imports, contact World Customs Broker at nyimports@worldcourier.com

Transactions (Charges and Level Reports) with PWS

The University’s Mailing Services Department has a blanket Purchase Order (PO) in place with PWS. All University transactions with PWS should run through this blanket PO. When importing something that requires brokerage services, you must provide PWS with the department’s 32-digit account number that will be charged for the services. PWS will then invoice the Mailing Services Department directly using that account number. The Mailing Services Department will pay the invoice and process an Interdepartmental Charge (IDC) that will appear on the appropriate Level report.

The cost of the item will determine how to initiate contact with PWS:

  • If your purchase is $10,000 or less, contact PWS for assistance. PWS will ensure that the University’s continuous bond is applied to your import.
  • If your purchase is over $10,000, contact your procurement specialist for assistance.
Determining Duty-Free Status on Imported Scientific Equipment

Scientific equipment imported strictly for University research or educational purposes may qualify for duty-free status. In order to qualify for duty-free status, you must apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce for an exception. This involves budgeting additional time as well as, possibly, additional paperwork but may result in significant cost savings.

Consider applying to the U.S. Department of Commerce for this exception if your purchase fits this description: A scientific instrument or apparatus intended exclusively for educational purposes or pure scientific research use by qualified nonprofit institutions may enjoy duty-free entry if equipment of equivalent scientific value is not being manufactured in the United States.

  • Apply for duty-free entry of scientific instruments by following these instructions. Your procurement specialist will be able to help you with this process.
  • The procurement specialist will need the technical details of the item from you in order to provide the proper guidance.
Purchasing Biological Materials and Lab Chemicals from a New International Supplier

Biological materials and laboratory chemicals must be purchased from University-wide contracted suppliers or suppliers already established in the supplier database. Follow this process to obtain biological materials or laboratory chemicals from a new supplier.

Paying for Imported Goods

The University’s preferred method of payment is a US dollar check. Most companies and individuals accept a US dollar check. If the payee does not accept a US dollar check, a wire transfer is required to make a payment in a foreign currency. Wire Payments cannot be made through the PantherExpress System.

Wire Payments

The University’s preferred payment method is a check in US Dollars. If the supplier requires a wire transfer, or payment in a foreign currency, the purchaser must request a wire transfer through the PantherExpress System. A bank fee of $35 for each transaction will be charged to your department's account and will appear on your level report.

Please see the this page for detailed instructions on making these kinds of payments.

Exports

The University is required to comply with all U.S. export control laws, including the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  U.S. export controls laws restrict the export of certain products and services to certain countries and people, and are complex. 

For assistance with your export, please visit the Office of Trade Compliance's website or contact the Trade Compliance Team at TradeCompliance@pitt.edu.

Exports Controls Product Classification Requirement

In accordance with United States Export Control laws, two departments (the University’s Office of Trade Compliance and Purchasing Services) need to review the Export Controls Classification on the following types of goods and services purchases:

  • Goods purchases greater than $10,000 per item for the School of Engineering, the School of Information Sciences, and the Natural Sciences Division of the Dietrich School. This review will satisfy the University’s responsibility to 1) ensure that a Technology Control Plan is developed for any deemed export issues, and 2) evaluate any purchases for current or eventual export.
  • Services purchases – only when an item is being sent by the University to a supplier outside the U.S.
    • Instructions: the University will need to determine, prior to transferring the item to a foreign party/destination, if an export license is required or not (i.e. will need to determine the item’s classification and the destination country). Contact the Office of Trade Compliance (EChelp@pitt.edu) prior to exporting any item out of the U.S.

Resources