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The ABCs of Mode of Transportation

Wed Dec 11 2019
By: Edgard Almodovar, Trade Data Collection Branch, Puerto Rico Trade Data
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It can be tricky to file Electronic Export Information in the Automated Export System. But it’s easier than you think, thanks to simple data elements like mode of transportation.

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According to the Foreign Trade Regulations, mode of transportation (MOT) is “the method by which goods are exported from the United States by way of seaports, airports or land border crossing points. Methods of transportation include vessel, air, truck, rail, mail, or other.”

In other words, how you ship products abroad.

Sounds simple — and it is. As long as you know the basics.

But there can be potentially puzzling scenarios.

For example, what do you think the MOT is if you truck your goods to an airport, fly them across the country, and ship them overseas?

Well, your products left your facility in a truck.

So truck. Right?

Wrong.

Then, what is the MOT?

The simplest way to answer the MOT question is by asking another one: How were the goods transported from the last port before leaving the country?  

Assuming the seaport was in the United States, the MOT is vessel.

Got it?

Just to make sure, consider this: What is the MOT if your goods crossed the border into Canada by truck and then shipped from Canada to another destination?

Ask the magic question — and you have your answer: truck, because that is how your stuff moved from the United States.

Note: The mode of transportation for transshipments via Canada or Mexico is always the border-crossing carrier, not the carrier that transports goods to the country of destination.

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Resources for Choosing the Right MOT

For AESDirect users, there is a tooltip for the Mode of Transportation field that provides a description to assist in choosing the correct option

Have more questions about MOT or other topics related to Foreign Trade Regulations? Call (800) 549-0595 and press option 3, or email <emd.askregs@census.gov>.

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