Exporting from the United States to Central America

Exporting from the United States to Central America might initially seem very difficult. For example, suppose you google export to El Salvador or Costa Rica. You get search results primarily for freight forwarders. When you arrive at their website, you end up on multiple pages without finding an answer to your questions. CasaEnvios.com likes to keep things simple; therefore, this blog post is an overview of the process.
I will focus on LCL (Less than a container load). Currently, two leading warehouse consolidations have weekly sailing from Miami to Central America and from Los Angeles to Central and South America.
There usually are three costs to get your merchandise exported and imported into Central America and South America. I listed the costs below.
  1. Transit & Handling at origin (USA)
  2. Deconsolidation (Agent at destination) will charge a fee to release the importing documents.
  3. Customs Agents classify products ( HTS numbers), Permits if required.
  4. Taxes are generally calculated based on the commercial invoice. The customs agent will provide a document named Poliza (Spanish term for importing documents)

Freight / Transit Costs

The cost is calculated by the total cubic meter or weight, whichever is greater. There will also be a handling fee from Freight Forward or consolidation, depending on who is handling the shipment.
Example of the Ocean freight Costs
  • Freight costs $160 per cubic meter
  • Handling costs $50
  • Document cost $60
  • House B/L costs $50

The Deconsolidator at Destination and customs Cost

The cost will be between 85 to 150 depending on the central American country. The Customs Agent's Cost is between $100 to $150. If permits are required, or the shipment lands on inspection, you are looking at another $100.


Exporting and importing into Central America and South America is not difficult and can be easy as long as you understand the costs and process from day one. If you need help with your export and importing, email us at info@casaenvios.com.
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