When searching for the required documentation to import or export you will encounter a bewildering array of documents to be considered. Here we selected the three most important you need to draw your attention towards.
Like it or not, for every single transaction in business a documentation is necessary. When you incorrectly prepare a document, it can create a huge hassle for all parties involved, regardless if it is in selling or purchasing something. When you are shipping a product (importing or exporting), it isn’t different. Goods cannot enter or leave a country unless accompanied by the required documents. And here you might keep your eye widely opened, because if your paperwork is incomplete, you can neither hand over nor collect your cargo. On the basis of the divergence, you may end up paying a penalty, which can cause you a misadventure to your reliability.
Sifting through here and there you may have found some documents which are related to importing and exporting, such as Proforma Invoice, Commercial Invoice, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, Certificate of Manufacture, Dock Receipts etc. Even though all these documents have their importance, there are three of them which are the key for your shipping process, and here we will take you through them.
Basic Documents Required for Exports
1. Bill of Lading
It is by far the most important document in the shipping process for both export and import. Providing evidence or proof of shipment, it indicates the owner of the cargo. Also, the bill of lading is an evidence of Contract of Carriage, receipt of goods and document of title to the goods. It is a legal document that contains all the details pertaining to the cargo being shipped, the destination, the terms of sale, and the details of the recipient. It must be signed by the appointed signatory of the shipping line, the exporter, and the importer. For smooth transportation of goods from one place to another, it is necessary that the exporter obtain a correct and complete bill of lading from the shipping line/forwarder. He must then send the bill of lading to the importer. The importer can collect the cargo only after he presents the bill of lading to the shipping line at the destination port. To learn more, read our well-explained article on the Bill of Lading.
2. Commercial Invoice-cum-Packing List:
The commercial invoice is the document which provides the details of the sales transaction containing important information regarding the cargo, such as name of exporter/seller and importer/buyer, the value and quantity of the goods sold. Now, the packing list contains the details of the goods that are being shipped. It should mention the correct description of the goods, quantity, weight (gross and net), number and type of packages, and marks and numbers, carrier name, export data, export license number, and letter of credit number. This information is necessary for the Customs to ascertain the value of the goods and to facilitate examination at the time of clearance.
We wrote two separated articles to help you these documents better. Here you can learn more about Commercial Invoice and Packing List.
3. Bill of Export
Also known as “shipping bill of export”, it is a document requirement by the customs authority. It provides the details of any benefit that the shipper has availed in terms of customs duty, export schemes of the government, credit obtained under DEPB. If the goods are re-export of previously imported goods, then such details are also mentioned in the bill.
Basic Documents Required for Imports
Bill of Lading & Commercial Invoice cum Packing List
Not different from the exporting procedure, the bill of lading and commercial invoice-cum-packing list are also required documents for imports. The consignee has to collect these documents from the seller/exporter. Apart from these two documents, importers also need to present a bill of entry to be able to collect their cargo at the destination port.
Bill of Entry
It is a declaration by a consignee/importer or his appointed agent. It provides details of the type of cargo, its value, and quantity. It is prepared in three copies. The Customs inspect and clear the goods based on the information provided in the bill of entry. To ensure that there is no malpractice regarding the value of the goods, the bill of entry is tallied with the sales invoice or insurance policy.