Customs Brokerage and Freight Forwarding

The University of Washington has a contract with Expeditors International for customs brokerage and freight forwarding services.  Expeditors is a compliance-driven organization and is in position to understand and address the intricacies of trade regulations and agreements at the global, regional, national and local levels.  By utilizing Expeditors for customs clearance, you can closely manage your international shipping needs and:

  • Meet the requirements of the ever-changing regulatory environment.
  • File your import, export and security declarations electronically.
  • Enhance existing customs compliance programs, such as free trade zones, special regimes, border crossing and trade preferences.
  • Minimize risk and future potential costs of non-compliance.

Best Practice: Purchasing from foreign suppliers:

For all foreign purchases, departments should be aware that any item coming into the US may require customs clearance. Therefore, department's should create two purchase orders;

   1) A purchase order (BPO/ EI) for the supplier of the goods and...

   2) A second purchase order (BPO) for Expeditors covering customs clearance charges

It is recommended that you contact Expeditors in advance to notify them of a shipment requiring customs clearance.  However, in the event that Expeditors does not have a BPO to invoice for customs clearance, they will contact you requesting the BPO number before releasing the shipment.   

How are invoices paid?

  • Expeditors will contact the department requesting the BPO number.
  • Once the BPO number is received, Expeditors will email the invoice to for payment.
  • If Expeditors emails the invoice to the department, the department can email the invoice to requesting payment be made.
  • Invoices received without a valid BPO number, will be returned to either the department or the supplier depending on the information in the invoice. 
  • Via Credit Card payment through  For instructions on how to set up payments, click here.
    • Please Note:  There are two fees associated with using a credit card with Expeditors.
      • $10 handling fee
      • 3% processing fee 

 Alternative Practice: Goods/Materials purchased from a foreign supplier without purchase order

Please follow the following steps when purchasing without a purchase order.

   1) Notify the shipping company that the UW uses Expeditors for customs clearance.

   2) Contact Expeditors to give them information about the purchase.

          Aryeh Greenberg, Team Lead, Customs Brokerage
          Direct 206-826-4109
          Office 206-826-4100
          Clayton Brenden, Business Analyst, Customs Brokerage
          Direct 206-826-4166
          Office 206-826-4100

          Seattle Office
          19119 16th Avenue South
          SeaTac, WA 98188
   3) Provide correct billing address, department contact with phone number and email address.

   4) Either create a BPO, or use the Non-PO invoice payments system in ARIBA to process the Expeditors invoice and coordinate payment.  Information and instructions on how to process an invoice via the Non-PO invoice payments system is available online at

          Note - Expeditors may contact the recipient of the goods for additional information for invoicing and filing proper shipping documents on behalf of UW.  It is imperative to share this process with the recipient (i.e. research technician, scientist etc.).

If you don’t preplan or notify Expeditors at the time you’re placing order, who will clear your items? 

Although the best practice is to notify Expeditors as soon as you purchase your goods from a foreign supplier, U.S. Customs and the Port of Seattle are aware that the UW has a contract with Expeditors International of Washington and will generally notify Expeditors if something comes in for the UW and requires Customs Clearance. Expeditors will then contact the recipient of the goods for additional information on billing and shipping documents.

FedEx, UPS, or World Courier have in-house customs brokers and use of Expeditors is not necessary.