Shipping Resources

Important guidance for shipping internationally

Due to the current conflict in Ukraine, FedEx, UPS, and DHL have suspended deliveries to Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine

Guidance and Resources

International Shipping

It is important to keep in mind that the exemption of fundamental university research from export licensing requirements does not extend to activities occurring outside of the United States or to the export of tangible objects from the United States, regardless of the purpose of the export. 

When shipping internationally, it is important to check that the individuals or entities to which materials are being shipped are eligible to receive those materials, i.e. they do not appear on “specially designated national” or “banned parties” lists and are not in embargoed locations. Additionally, materials that could be used for the manufacture of biological or chemical weapons, chemicals that are used as propellants and high explosive materials may require specific licenses for export. Shipment of these controlled materials should be planned well in advance, as it may take several weeks to several months to obtain the license.

When shipping internationally:

Utilize Material Transfer Agreements in Penn’s Research Inventory System

  • A request for a material transfer agreement (MTA) for research materials helps ensure that review for both export compliance and environmental health and radiation safety takes place prior to shipping or receiving of the materials.  An MTA also helps protect the Principal Investigator and Penn by clarifying the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to publication, patenting and other issues. Clarity with respect to rights and obligations can help head off any disagreements that may arise in the absence of a clearly expressed statement regarding what the parties intended. 

Use eShip@Penn for all Penn-related shipments (FedEx, UPS, DHL)

  • All international shipments processed via eShip undergo screening to ensure that the recipient and destination are not prohibited.

Use Penn’s authorized customs brokers/freight forwarders (for large, heavy, high-value items and complex shipping destinations)

Please note that there are additional shipping-related regulations and/or agencies that come into play when shipping biologic, chemical, or radioactive materials either internationally or within the United States. For more information on these types of shipments, as well as training opportunities, see Penn’s Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS).

Additional information may be required for shipments valued over $2,500, as well as those destined for China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela, or the EU. If you are shipping to these countries, please see the following page:

Other Considerations


When ordering items from foreign suppliers or preparing to ship items to a foreign destination, it is important to evaluate the options as fees, taxes, and customs duties may apply.  For example, if you are purchasing items for use in another country or for an international collaborator, it may be faster and more cost effective to have the vendor ship directly to your international collaborator, rather than have the items shipped to Penn first. Not only will this avoid the need to navigate import regulations specific to the destination country, but it will also be easier from a logistics and compliance perspective.

Customs rates

Navigating government regulations, treaty arrangements, and varying duty rates can be complicated.  While international shipments processed through eShip@Penn will include the correct duties and have exemptions applied, this will only occur if accurate and complete documentation is submitted by you.

For general information regarding VAT, custom rates, and treaty exemptions for high dollar eShip@Penn packages (those more than $2,500), please contact

eShip@Penn carriers also have instruction and information regarding the steps to obtaining correct customs and duties calculations.  You can review the requirements on their global shipping information sites:

This information may assist in determining whether eShip@Penn is a manageable alternative or whether a customs broker should be engaged for your shipment.

Contact Penn ORS