A definitive guide of all the Export Documents every shipper must know about

The importance of export documentation is extremely high in the international trade industry. Every piece of paper plays a crucial role in every step of the trading process. There is so much legal paperwork involved in shipping cargo that every shipper has to know about its significance. Earlier, traders had to file every document manually which took a lot of time and effort. Thanks to the advanced technology and smart tools of the leading logistics companies, exporters, importers and shippers can conduct all the formalities in a matter of a few minutes. Let us now have a look at all the documents that are vital to the shipping process.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

The Bill of Lading is one of the most vital documents which serves as a proof of carriage and shipping contract between the shipper and the exporter. Moreover, all three parties (importer, exporter and the shipper) involved in the shipping process need to sign the bill to initiate the freight shipment. The exporter must collect the B/L from the freight forwarder and then forward it to the importer. The bill includes details of the freight, name and address of the importer, terms and conditions of sale and so on.

Shipping Bill

Shipping bill is a document that an explorer has to generate from the customs department. Without this bill, any good cannot cross the geographical boundaries of a country. The shipping bill includes all the details of the freight shipment, and it is more of an application that an exporter needs to file to get customs clearance. It also specifies government incentives like exemptions and refunds, if any.

There are five types of shipping bills, and each one has a different colour that indicates the nature of the shipping goods. All the details mentioned in the shipping bill must be accurate and true. If the customs department finds any flaws, they reject the application right away, and the exporter can incur a loss. Therefore, exporters must always take the help of a reliable CHA (Customs House Agent) who ensures the accuracy of the bill.

Commercial Invoice Cum Packing List

The commercial invoice serves as a contract of sale with the detailed information of importer, exporter and the goods. Packing list enlists data that includes weight, nature and quantity of goods, type and number of packaging, export license number, date of export, carrier’s details, etc. This list helps in convenient examination of goods and tallying during customs clearance. Earlier, the packing list and the commercial invoice were two separate documents with the same sort of data field and information. Now the industry recognises both these documents as one.

Other Important Export Documentation

Apart from the aforementioned documents, there are several other important papers in export documentation. A few of them are:

  • Certificate of Origin – This is a legal document that certifies the country of origin of the export goods. The local government or the Chamber of Commerce is liable to legalise this paper.
  • Insurance Certificate – If the exporter buys insurance for the cargo he is shipping, he will receive an insurance certificate against the same.
  • Dock Receipts – From storing the consignment at a dockyard to shipping it from the port of shipment, every step produces a receipt that falls under this category.
  • Certificate of Manufacturer – This document certifies that the manufacturer has produced the required goods in proper condition and they are ready for export.

Export documentation lays the foundation of a freight shipment by legally binding the importer, shipper and exporter. It is the responsibility of each member of the shipping industry to ensure the accuracy of each legal paper. The documents reinstate transparency and trust among the traders to facilitate a smooth shipping process.