Six Ways to Avoid LTL Shipping Delays to Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a group islands in the Caribbean and a US territory. Puerto Rico’s main trading partner is the United States, which accounts for approximately 58% of total trade. Imports are primarily chemicals and chemical products, computers, clothing, machinery and transportation equipment. Over 50% of Puerto Rico’s exports are pharmaceuticals, followed by textiles, petrochemicals, medical equipment and electronics.


Being part of the US Customs territory offers benefits to shippers and helps alleviate cumbersome border crossing requirements. No customs duties are assessed on products coming from the mainland United States. However, an 11.5% excise tax (sales tax) is applied on imported products, as well as on goods produced locally.


Despite the streamlined customs environment, you may encounter shipping delays if you don’t prepare in advance. Here are six easy steps to take to keep your LTL freight moving:

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1. Prepare all necessary documents

Bill of Lading (BOL)


  • Write a complete, clear and concise description of the goods. Generic or ambiguous commodity descriptions will result in transit delays.
  • Include contact information for the consignee or other recipient in Puerto Rico, specifying full name, phone number and email address.


Commercial invoice


  • Ensure the commercial invoice details match the BOL exactly.
  • State the accurate market value of the goods being shipped and list the currency (USD, CAD, etc.) and country of origin. A value of $0.00 is unacceptable.


Electronic Export Information (EEI)

(formerly known as a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED))


  • An EEI is required when the value of the freight is more than USD $2,500, or if the shipment contains rough diamonds or requires an export license.


Place a copy of all documents on the freight – this is very important!

2. Package your freight correctly

Make sure your shipment is packaged to withstand the LTL/LCL shipping environment. For LTL packaging guidelines, please review XPO’s LTL Freight Protection Guides. Finally, consider using bilingual labels and packing slips in Spanish and English.


3. Confirm that the consignee is prepared to receive the freight  

In some cases, the on-island consignee must provide a tax ID or social security number. The consignee also must be prepared to pay any taxes due on the freight. It’s critical for the shipper and the LTL carrier to have the same contact information for the consignee, including name, email address and phone number; without it, it may not be possible to coordinate delivery.


4. Verify that hazmat shipments are labeled properly

Random inspections by the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (Departamento de Hacienda) are conducted on hazmat shipments. Confirm that your freight is labeled properly and include paperwork in compliance with Ocean DOT regulations before you ship.


5. Plan for neighboring island delivery

Deliveries to Vieques and Culebra, which are neighboring islands to the main island of Puerto Rico, may require additional transit time. Be sure to check with your LTL carrier to determine the estimated transit times to these islands so you can plan accordingly.


6. Get help when you need it

Shipping LTL freight to Puerto Rico doesn’t have to be a headache. Preparation in advance and an expert carrier are the keys to a smooth shipping experience. Find a carrier that can answer complex questions and assist with your documents. Some carriers, like XPO, offer a dedicated Puerto Rico support team to help their LTL customers with paperwork and more.


When you need reliable, secure and on-time LTL service to Puerto Rico, XPO is the solution. Learn more here about our LTL service between the US and Puerto Rico and check out these helpful FAQs.