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Shipping Guide

Shipping Terms

Northwestern’s standard shipping terms are DDP (Delivered Duty Paid).  This provides the most protection to the University as it transfers risk to the University upon delivery.  Below, or attached, is a summary of the various shipping terms that may be offered by vendors, each with different customer and vendor responsibilities:

 summary of shipping terms

More information is available at: 

If a vendor will only agree to a shipping term that transfers all risk to Northwestern once it leaves the vendor, the department/school should arrange for appropriate insurance coverage for the purchased goods through the shipping company that will be transporting and delivering the goods prior to shipment.  Procurement and Payment Services and the Office of Risk Management can provide assistance when necessary.


The importing and exporting of goods are subject to the rules and regulations of U.S. Customs and may require special forms to be completed for entry. These forms should be submitted before the goods arrive in the United States. Departments/schools should check the contact information of the University's Preferred Vendor for customs clearance and freight forwarding services whenever a product is purchased that will be shipped from another country. The Preferred Vendor for customs clearance has been provided with NU's power of attorney by OGC to help streamline these deliveries. There is an additional cost associated with this service.

More information on import and export regulations can be found on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website (see ‘Commercial Importing Procedures and Requirements, Importing into the United States’).

**IMPORTANT** Always Check for delivery terms (or Incoterms) on supplier quotes These terms dictate which party, sender or receiver, (i.e. Exporter/Importer of Record) is responsible for insuring the shipment and payment of Customs clearance fees, duty/tax etc. If the terms dictate Receiver (Importer) is responsible for customs clearance the department should be prepared to pay any/all Customs and duty/tax charges that are assessed when their shipment is cleared. Warehousing/storage fees may also be assessed if the shipment is delayed for any reason during the Customs clearance process. No amount is guaranteed and is at Custom’s discretion.

Shipping Terms on Purchase Orders

Freight/Shipping Terms are unable to be modified on a purchase order. Individual departments may agree to alternate shipping terms with vendors if necessary, but it is not possible to reflect alternate terms on a purchase order. For additional assistance, please contact Procurement and Payment Services.

Ship-to Codes

Departments/schools are expected to select the appropriate 'ship to' code on each Requisition. There will be no ability to put a non-established ship to location on a Requisition. If a new 'ship to' location is needed, submit the Ship-To Request Form (pdf). Northwestern University has developed a list of Ship-To Codes (pdf) to be used by each department/school in NUFinancials.