U.S. Department of Commerce

Commodity Flow Survey

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How the Data are Collected

The Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) is conducted throughout the survey year with establishments selected into the CFS sample receiving four questionnaires - one during each calendar quarter of the survey year. The establishments are asked to provide shipment information about a sample of their individual outbound shipments during a prespecified one-week period of the calendar quarter. Generally, the four questionnaires are the same.

The following information is collected:

  • Shipment ID number
  • Shipment date (mm/dd)
  • Shipment value
  • Shipment weight in pounds
  • Commodity code from Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG) list
  • Commodity description
  • Hazmat number [United Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number]
  • U.S. destination (city, state, zip code) - gateway for export shipment
  • Modes of transportation
  • Foreign destination (exports only - city and country)
  • Export mode
  • Temperature control

In addition, establishments were asked to provide information about the use and extent of rush delivery services.

A Precanvass Operation is conducted to improve the CFS universe and sampling quality and efficiency. In conducting the Precanvass, a short questionnaire is mailed to auxiliary establishments and establishments expected to be selected with certainty in the CFS. The Precanvass will determine if these establishments are engaged in shipping activities, and if so obtain an estimate of the annual value of those shipments, along with updating address and contact information. Responses to this survey will improve the efficiency of the sample for the CFS.

Beginning with the 2012 CFS, respondents may provide their information via paper questionnaire or by electronic reporting.

Get Forms provides copies of the questionnaires, instruction guides, and coding manuals.


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Commodity Flow Survey | (301) 763-2108 | sssd.cfs@census.gov |  Last Revised: March 21, 2014