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Physical Distribution

The Physical Distribution Center, located in the Severn Building, is home to Central Receiving, Central Shipping, Transportation Management, and Terrapin Trader. It serves as the default receiving warehouse for any inbound shipments to the university when the ordering department cannot physically receive the items from the supplier. 

Outbound Shipping

  • Mark/number multiple cartons, such as 1 of 10, 2 of 10, and so on..
  • Maintain a list of all items shipped in each carton in case of loss
  • Avoid using paper or string to wrap boxes to be shipped.
  • Retain pick-up receipt from Physical Distribution or carrier.
  • Don't over-insure; reimbursement will be for the proven value.

Please contact the Transportation Manager’s office at 301-405-5852 for assistance with:

  • Opening an account with a transportation company (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
  • International shipments other than letters and documents.
  • Hazardous and/or dangerous goods shipments (heavy fines are being levied for errors. Shippers must be federally certified to ship dangerous goods)
  • US Customs clearance
  • Import and export documentation
  • Duty-free entry on foreign purchase
  • Personnel and laboratory relocations (household moves)
  • Information needed to perform a pick-up (Non-Priority Only)
  • Complete ship-to address (not a PO box), including the individual's name, and phone number
  • KFS# (if the university is paying for the shipment)
  • Return authorization number from the vendor (if applicable)
  • Number of cartons, contents of the cartons, and actual value
  • Pick-up information: Dept, bldg & room #, individual requesting shipment and phone number
  • Reason for shipment (repair, return, etc.)
  • Purchase order number (if applicable)


FedEx and UPS offer online shipping using your department account, and pickup from your location is free.

  • A "Commercial Invoice" is required for all non-document international shipments
  • A “Shipper’s Export Declaration” is required for goods valued at over $2,500.
  • Non-document international shipments also require approval from the Export Compliance Office
  • For international shipments other than documents, additional forms/documentation may be required – commercial invoices, UMD Export Request Form (see link below), and Shipper’s Export Declarations. Contact the Transportation Manager at 301-405-5852 for assistance.
  • International Priority Shipping Priority Service is usually 2-3 days for delivery of documents. International shipments other than documents are subject to the customs laws of the destination country and there may be delays.

Please contact us at 301-405-5852 for assistance in setting up an account with FedEx and UPS. These accounts are paid via Purchasing Cards, and all university volume discounts will apply. You can complete shipping documents on your computer by logging in with your account number and password. Supplies such as envelopes and boxes can be ordered online through the FedEx and UPS websites.

FedEx and UPS drop boxes are located in various locations around campus and College Park. Use their websites to find the closest drop-off location or schedule a pickup from your location.

General Instructions for Priority Shipping

  • Include the shipper's (your) name, department, and phone number on all airway bills. If delivery cannot be made, the carrier will attempt to contact the shipper (you) for instructions.
  • FedEx and UPS shipments are automatically insured for $100. Additional insurance may be added by stating an insured value on the air waybill.
  • Drop boxes (UPS & FedEx) are located at various locations around campus and College Park. Use drop boxes when possible. FedEx and UPS will also pick up priority packages from your location if you have an account.
  • Documents or checks should be placed in a separate addressed envelope and then placed in the UPS or FedEx shipping envelope. This will assure delivery in the event the contents are separated from the shipping envelope.
  • Complete for every labeled box on the shipping document.
  • A copy of the shipping document should be given to your department's fiscal manager.

Priority Service for Shipments Over Two Pounds (including freight)

  • FedEx and UPS have a 150-pound maximum weight for package freight. After 150 pounds it reverts to its freight-level service.
  • LTL carriers have no maximum weight per piece.
  • Different carriers, services, and rate structures are available. For assistance or advice contact the Transportation Manager at 301-405-5852.

Inbound Shipments  to the University

General Information/Instructions for Inbound Shipping

When receiving a shipment, it is your responsibility to determine if it is in good condition and matches the shipping documents. Goods delivered by a trucking company will include a bill of lading stating the number of pieces included in the shipment; FedEx and UPS use handheld PDAs with similar information. If there are any discrepancies or obvious damage, they must be marked on the bill of lading or noted on the PDA when you sign off, and the supplier should be notified immediately that the goods were received short or damaged.

Determine the best delivery point:

UPS and FedEx will deliver inside your building to your desk, but usually with a weight limitation of 100 pounds.

Shipments over 100 pounds are usually shipped via truck by companies such as Pitt Ohio, YRC, UPS Freight, and FedEx Freight. You, the consignee, are responsible for unloading the goods from the back of the truck. If your building doesn’t have a loading dock, it’s often best to have those loads rerouted.

The Physical Distribution Center is an alternate receiving location for all deliveries. The center has truck-height loading docks and the material handling equipment necessary to safely unload most deliveries. If your shipment requires special handling or consists of equipment that’s being professionally installed, we’re in a convenient location for the installation crews to pick the goods up.

Physical Distribution Center address:
University of Maryland
Physical Distribution Center
5245 Greenbelt Road, Dock #6
College Park, MD 20740

Non-document shipments originating from outside the United States may require clearance by US Customs. The University of Maryland has a customs broker to assist with such matters.

The ordering department, end user, or principal investigator should be available to answer any technical questions about the goods as requested by US Customs. Please contact the Transportation Manager at 301-405-5852 for assistance with goods requiring US Customs clearance.

The Transportation Manager’s office (301-405-5852) maintains transportation agreements with a number of national household moving companies and can assist in coordinating household and laboratory moves when the university has agreed to pay for the move. 

The Transportation Manager’s office also processes payment of invoices relating to these moves. To take advantage of this service, please follow these guidelines. Beginning January 1, 2018, household move expenses are no longer tax deductible. Charges paid by the University of Maryland will show up as income on the shipper’s W-2.

Household Move Process

1. Forward a written request via email to the Transportation Manager authorizing the household move. 

  • Include the KFS# you want to charge, the name, address, telephone number, and email address of the person moving (hereafter called the “Shipper”). 
  • Include any restrictions that your department wishes to put on the move, such as a maximum dollar amount or whether transportation of vehicles or short-term storage are omitted from the move. 
  • If a maximum dollar amount is specified, your department KFS# will be billed for the entire amount and the Shipper will be responsible for reimbursing you. Moving companies do not provide split billing for services.

2. The Transportation Manager’s office will issue estimate requests, which will include transportation, packing, unpacking, insurance, and any special services requested. 

Moving companies will contact the shipper and arrange to do a survey of the move. Shippers are asked to include any special needs, such as moving the contents of self-storage lockers, attics, offices, and laboratories. The moving companies can also arrange for the transport of vehicles and boats and for short-term storage. 

The completed estimates are forwarded to the Transportation Manager’s office by the moving companies for comparison and awarding of the move.

3. The Transportation Manager will send a Letter of Authorization to the company with the winning bid and instruct them to send all bills to the University of Maryland, c/o the Transportation Manager’s office, for payment against the KFS# provided. The moving company will then contact the Shipper and arrange the final details of the move and set a schedule.

Please allow a minimum of three weeks for the estimate process, especially during peak season (May, June, July and August).
Quotes solicited by the Shipper will not be accepted, as they do not reflect discounts and services included in the university’s transportation agreements.

View the UMD Household Move Policy.

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