Necessary shipping documents for export

Bill of lading: the most important document in the exporter’s transportation process. A bill of lading (the act of placing goods on board a ship) is a legal document that must be signed by the exporter, shipping line, and importer. In order for the goods to be transported smoothly from the origin to the destination, the exporter must obtain a correct and complete bill of lading from the shipping line/forwarder and send it to the importer. The bill includes the following details: description of the goods, quantity, weight, name and address of the recipient, terms of sale, etc.

Commercial invoice and packing list: The commercial invoice is a sales contract issued by the exporter to the importer. It helps Customs determine the value of goods to assess the duties and taxes payable. The commercial invoice contains the following details: name, address of the seller (exporter); name, address of the buyer (importer); value, quantity of the goods; packing list is an itemized list with details of the goods. It helps facilitate their inspection and accurate counting during customs clearance.

Shipping Bill/Export Bill: A shipping bill or export bill is a document submitted by an exporter in the form of an application to obtain customs clearance. It informs Customs whether exporters have taken advantage of government incentives.

If the goods are re-exports of previously imported goods, then these details must also be included.

Necessary shipping documents for import

Bill of Lading: This is the most important document not only for exporters but also for importers. The exporter must share the bill of lading with the importer, and the importer cannot receive the goods without the bill of lading.

Commercial Invoice & Packing List: Again, importers need this document as much as exporters. This is because the commercial invoice cum packing list comes into play at the most important time for customs clearance.

Entry Form: The third required document for importers is the Entry Form. This is the importer’s declaration against which the customs authorities at the port of entry inspect and clear the goods. The information on this bill matches the sales invoice or insurance policy.

Here is a brief overview of the three documents that exporters and importers absolutely need to ship their goods. That doesn’t mean these are the only documents they need. Importers and exporters may need to submit additional supporting documents in order for the shipment to be approved by customs, depending on various factors and varying from case to case.

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