FedEx ETD: The Ultimate Guide to International Shipping

businesses often find themselves navigating the complexities of international shipping

  • Written by Paola Olivera
  • Published on December 29, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes


Nowadays, businesses often find themselves navigating the complexities of international shipping. Fortunately, FedEx offers a solution that simplifies the process—FedEx Electronic Trade Documents (ETD). This innovative feature is designed to streamline your international shipping needs, providing efficiency and convenience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of FedEx ETD, shedding light on its benefits, features, and how to make the most of this cutting-edge solution.

What is FedEx ETD?

FedEx ETD, short for Electronic Trade Documents, is a game-changer for businesses involved in international shipping. It introduces a paperless approach to the often cumbersome task of handling trade documents. With ETD, printing and attaching physical copies of customs documents to your shipments is unnecessary, making the entire process more eco-friendly and efficient.

Key Features

1. Electronic Submission of Customs Documents

FedEx ETD allows you to electronically submit customs documents, eliminating the need for manual printing and attachment. Whether it’s a Commercial Invoice or other ancillary documents, you can upload them in various formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word, or Excel.

2. Streamlined Customs Clearance Process

Capturing and sharing critical trade information early in the process optimizes customs clearance. By submitting your documentation electronically, you gain a significant advantage in speeding up the clearance process.

3. Customization Options

Flexibility is vital with FedEx ETD. You can upload customs documents generated by FedEx or use your own international trade documents created in your preferred software. The feature supports various file formats, providing convenience for users.

4. Time-Saving Preferences

Set preferences to simplify the completion of the Customs screen and defaults for the customs documents you upload. This not only saves time but also ensures consistency in your shipping documentation.

5. Additional Time for Issue Resolution

FedEx ETD gives you additional time to address any difficulties with trade documents before the shipment arrives. This feature contributes to a smoother shipping experience by allowing proactive issue resolution.

Shipping Enhancements with FedEx ETD

FedEx has enhanced the Electronic Trade Documents feature with several new capabilities, making international shipping even more straightforward:

1. FedEx International Ground Customs Documents

Now, you can electronically submit customs documents for FedEx International Ground shipments. This enhancement provides more ways to streamline efforts and increase speed-to-market.

2. Future-Dated Shipments

FedEx ETD allows you to submit customs documents for future-dated shipments, making the process quick and easy. Set the shipment date for any day from today to 10 days.

3. Comprehensive Reporting

Generate end-of-day and ad-hoc reports for FedEx Electronic Trade Documents shipments. These reports include the FedEx Ground Batch Upload Failure Report, FedEx Express Batch Upload Failure Report, FedEx Express ETD Shipment Report, and FedEx Ground ETD Shipment Report.

4. Elimination of Physical Attachment

Since FedEx ETD enables the electronic submission of international trade documentation, you no longer need to print and attach trade documents to your shipments when using FedEx Express international services or FedEx International Ground.

Recommendations for Optimal Performance

Before diving into the world of FedEx ETD, here are some recommendations to ensure optimal performance and a smooth experience:

1. Internet Connection

FedEx ETD is designed to perform optimally with a broadband internet connection. Users with slower data transfer rates, such as dial-up customers, may experience longer processing times.

2. Company Letterhead and Signature Images

FedEx strongly recommends uploading company letterhead and signature images to enhance clearance opportunities and reduce customs delays. Many countries require these images for electronic documents.

3. Use of Own International Trade Documents

Consider using your own international trade documents from your system to reduce customs delays. If completing the Commercial Invoice on your shipping device, ensure it includes the exact commodity details as your Business Commercial Invoice system.

Enabling FedEx ETD

To start benefiting from FedEx ETD, follow these steps to enable the functionality:

1. Contact Your FedEx Account Executive:

   Reach out to your FedEx account executive to receive education on the new solution and enable FedEx ETD.

2. System Settings:

   – Select “System Settings” from the Customized drop-down menu.

   – Choose the appropriate system number and click “Modify.”

   – Navigate to the “Your System Settings” tab.

3. Activate Electronic Trade Documents:

   – Select the “Activate Electronic Trade Documents” checkbox in the Trade Documents section.

   – Accept the terms and conditions.

4. Communication Settings:

   – Choose between “At time of shipment” or “At regular hourly upload time (in batch)” for document upload.

   – Set preferences for simplified completion of the Customs screen.

5. Letterhead and Signature Images:

   – Upload company letterhead and signature images for enhanced clearance.

   – Save these images in the required dimensions.

6. Save Preferences:

   – Save your preferences to complete the setup.

Setting Preferences for a Seamless Experience

Follow these steps to set preferences for a smoother experience with FedEx ETD:

1. Shipping Profiles:

   – Select “Shipping Profiles” from the Customize menu.

   – Choose the Default International Shipping Profile and click “View/Edit.”

2. Customs Documents Tab:

   – Navigate to the “Customs Documents” tab.

   – Set default file locations for your electronic documents.

   – Choose your document preferences—whether to use your own documents or those generated by FedEx.

3. Print Copies and Other Preferences:

   – Select the number of copies to print if using FedEx-generated documents.

   – Set preferences for additional trade documents and enter the document name.

4. Upload Letterhead and Signature Images:

   – Upload digital images of your letterhead and signature.

   – Choose settings for applying these images to different countries or all shipments.

5. Save Preferences:

   – Save your preferences to ensure a seamless shipping process.

Creating Shipping Labels with FedEx ETD

Now that you’ve enabled and set preferences for FedEx ETD, here’s a step-by-step guide on creating shipping labels:

1. Complete Shipment Details:

   – Fill in the required details, options, and commodity/merchandise information.

2. Customs Screen Messages:

   – Review messages on the Customs screen, including Commercial Invoice details and the option to upload trade documents electronically.

3. Document Selection:

   – Choose between a FedEx-generated Commercial Invoice or a Proforma Invoice.

   – Select the number of copies to print for eligible shipments.

4. Insert Images:

   – Ensure letterhead and signature image boxes are selected if you’ve set preferences for these images.

5. Add Optional Information:

   – Include additional details such as terms of sale, extra charges, and NAFTA statements.

6. Upload Own Documents:

   – If uploading your own documents, browse and upload them as needed.

7. Export Documents:

   – Select options for AES/EEI filing and other required export documents.

8. Attach Additional Documents:

   – Add Certificate of Origin, NAFTA Certificate of Origin, or attach other saved documents for eligible shipments.

9. Print Shipment Details:

   – Choose to print shipment details for your records.

10. Ship:

    – Click “Ship” to complete the process and generate shipping labels.

Common FAQs About FedEx ETD

1. Is FedEx ETD available for all shipments?

   – FedEx ETD is available for eligible shipments using FedEx International Ground and FedEx Express international services.

2. Can I use my own international trade documents with FedEx ETD?

  • FedEx ETD supports using your international trade documents, offering flexibility in your shipping process.

3. How can I track the status of my FedEx ETD shipments?

   – Utilize FedEx’s online tracking tools to monitor the status and progress of your ETD shipments.

4. Are there any additional fees for using FedEx ETD?

   – FedEx ETD is a complementary feature provided by FedEx to enhance the efficiency of your international shipping. There are no additional fees associated with using ETD.

5. What file formats are supported for document uploads?

   – FedEx ETD supports various formats, including PDF, Microsoft Word, and Excel.


In conclusion, FedEx Electronic Trade Documents (ETD) is a powerful tool for businesses engaged in international shipping. By leveraging the paperless approach and embracing the user-friendly features of ETD, you can significantly enhance the efficiency of your shipping processes. From streamlined customs clearance to time-saving preferences and comprehensive reporting, FedEx ETD is a valuable asset in today’s competitive global market. Take the steps to enable ETD, set your preferences, and experience a smoother, more efficient international shipping experience with FedEx.

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