International transport is a complex and time-consuming operation, as the slightest mistake can lead to high costs, especially when it comes to preparing the necessary documents. It is difficult to master all of them, especially since they differ depending on the mode of transport used.
In this article, we will introduce you to the different documents you will need to ship your goods.
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The 9 essential international shipping documents
To ensure the success of your international shipment of goods, it is crucial to have certain customs documents such as commercial invoices, export declarations, and export permits available... These documents must be processed accurately and expeditiously to avoid delays or additional costs when clearing customs. And they vary depending on the means of transport used and the requirements of the country of origin and destination.
In this section, we will examine the main international customs documents that are essential for the successful shipment of goods by various means of transportation.
The commercial invoice
The commercial invoice is a document that accompanies international trade transactions and contains information about the goods being exchanged, including their quantity, value, and terms of sale. It is typically issued by the exporter and is used in various modes of transportation. Customs authorities in importing countries often require it to calculate duties and taxes and ensure compliance with regulations. The exporter or their agent is responsible for ensuring the invoice is accurate and complete before shipping the goods
The packing list is a document that lists the items, weight, and dimensions of each package being shipped, and is used to identify and verify goods being shipped. It is typically prepared by the shipper and used by customs, carriers, and consignees in sea, air, and rail transportation. It must match the information provided in the commercial invoice to ensure conformity with the goods transported.
Customs Clearance Authorization
The customs clearance authorization is a document issued by customs authorities that authorizes the importer to clear goods upon arrival in the country of destination. It varies depending on the type of transport used. In maritime transport, it often takes the form of a bill of lading, in air transportation, an air cargo manifest, and in road transport, a customs declaration.
These documents contain information about the goods being transported and are presented to customs authorities to allow the goods to be cleared.
The Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading is a legal document used in all types of transportation to record the receipt and shipment of goods. It's issued by the carrier and given to the shipper in exchange for the goods to be transported. It establishes a contract of carriage between the carrier and shipper and includes information about the goods being transported, conditions of carriage, and parties involved. The bill of lading is essential for international trade as proof of ownership and can trigger payment between parties.
The delivery note
The delivery note is a document that certifies the delivery of goods to a specific recipient. It contains information about the sender, recipient, nature of goods, quantity, weight, and other relevant details. The recipient signs the document to confirm the receipt of goods in good condition. It is used in road, rail, and sea transportation and is particularly important in land transportation to certify delivery and relieve carriers of liability.
The Certificate of Insurance
The Certificate of Insurance is a document that certifies that an individual or company has purchased insurance to cover the risks associated with a given activity or event, especially in the context of freight transportation. It is used to prove that the shipper or carrier has purchased insurance to cover the risks associated with the transportation of goods.
It includes essential information such as the name of the insured, risks covered, duration of coverage, limits, and deductibles. The certificate is used in all modes of transport and may be required by port authorities or shipping companies in maritime transport.
The certificate of origin
The certificate of origin is a document that certifies the country of origin of goods, and it is often required by customs authorities to determine applicable tariffs and ensure compliance with international trade agreements. It must contain accurate information on the identity of the exporter and importer, the description of the goods, and the country of origin, and it is used in all modes of transportation.
The transport document
The transport document is a crucial document used in international trade to track the movement of goods and facilitate customs operations.
It can take various forms depending on the mode of transport, on the transport mode: a bill of lading for maritime transport, an air transport contract for air transport, and a road transport contract for road transport
And must contain important information such as the name of the shipper and consignee, goods description, quantity, weight, delivery conditions, etc.
The export or import permit
The export or import permit is a document that allows the export or import of regulated or restricted goods, issued by relevant government authorities. It is necessary for all modes of transportation and must be presented to customs authorities when goods cross borders. The permit may also be required by carriers to prove that the goods are authorized for transport.
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The 6 steps to consider when exporting goods
Step 1:Import and Export Requirements Checks
It is important to check the import and export requirements of the destination country and the country of origin to avoid customs problems, fines, and delivery delays.
Step 2: Choose the mode of transportation
The choice of transportation mode depends on various factors, such as the nature of the goods, the distance to be covered, and the delivery time. The modes of transportation commonly used for international shipping are sea, air, road, and rail.
Step 3: Find an international carrier
It is important to find a reliable and trustworthy carrier and compare quotes from different carriers for the transportation of your goods.
Step 4: Prepare your shipping documents
For a successful shipment, it is important to know the shipping documents such as commercial invoices, bills of lading, certificates of origin, etc. It is to process them properly to avoid any delays or additional costs when passing through customs.
Step 5: Preparation of the goods
To be able to ship goods abroad, it is essential to prepare them correctly by packing them and labeling them accurately to avoid any damage during transport.
Step 6: Tracking the shipment
It is important to track the shipment throughout its journey to ensure that it arrives at its destination on time and in good condition. This can be done through real-time tracking, which tracks the progress of the delivery, as well as regular updates from the carrier.
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International transport: risks to take into account
After knowing the steps to follow, we will discuss some risks that you may encounter during the shipment of goods:
Operational risks: Delays, loss, damage, or theft of goods may occur during transportation. Capacity, quality, or compliance problems may also occur with carriers or service providers.
It is therefore important to select a good sourcing agent and to take the necessary measures to minimize the risks during the shipment of goods.
Regulatory risks: regulatory and customs requirements may vary considerably from one country to another and may change frequently.
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FAQ | International Shipping 101: The Essential Freight Documents You Need
How to track the status of customs documents?
An effective tracking and communication system is critical to tracking customs documents. Supply chain tracking tools, such as transportation management systems (TMS). And it is important to communicate with logistics partners, and make sure that all parties involved have access to the same information.
What should I do if my goods are stopped at customs?
If your goods are stopped at customs, it is important to contact the customs authority to understand the reason for the stop and to provide all the necessary documents to solve the problem.
How to correctly fill out the customs documents for international shipments?
To properly complete customs documents for international shipments, you must first determine which documents are needed, then you must fill out these documents with accurate and complete information. Finally, you must sign and date the documents before sending them with the shipment.
What is the key information I need to provide on the documents?
To ensure a smooth shipment, you must provide key information on documents, such as shipper and receiver names and addresses, detailed product descriptions, quantities, values, tariff codes, carrier information, and special instructions.
How to ensure that customs documents comply with local and international customs regulations?
Compliance with local and international customs regulations is crucial to ensure that customs documents are compliant. To achieve this, it is important to know the customs requirements of each country involved in the shipment.
Why is it important to have a commercial invoice?
The commercial invoice is important because it provides critical information for risk management, regulatory compliance, determining cargo value and facilitating the delivery of goods.
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