Introduction to Export Documentation & Procedures

 Export documentation is far more than just shipping paperwork; it includes all of the important records of an international transaction. Using the correct trade terminology, clearly defining the transfer of interest and liability, selecting the right method of payment and sending the best quotation possible are the keys to effective exporting. After the sale has been made, proper and timely selection, preparation and distribution of documents are essential.  Documents used in international trade are a reflection of the understanding of the agreement between the seller, the buyer, and third party service and regulatory agencies. It is vital for the seller to understand that any document produced with their name as a party to the document is totally responsible for the actions of the service provider in the course of their performance.

 Although often underrated and overlooked, export documentation and procedural concerns are an integral part of the export process and should be considered as important as anything else related to the sale. The term “export” documentation is actually a relative misnomer, as most paperwork is really being prepared on behalf of the buyer, and is used for customs clearance and other legalities at the port of import, and thus are really “import” documents.  Successful exporters usually are very adept at preparing export documents, or else use service providers who are. Problems with documentation can lead to delay in shipment, penalties, unwanted storage costs and an aggravated buyer. An exporter should always put themselves in the importer’s shoes. Consider what you would do, if as an importer, your supplier caused delays and extra expenses due to a lack of proper paperwork. Eventually, you would probably find a new supplier.

Differences Between Exporting and Domestic Business:The basic intent of a quotation for international trade is the same as it is for quotes made in the U.S.; but the rules and procedures are different. The following are examples of the difference between international and domestic quotations. Trade terms: Domestic sales use trade terms such as ―FOB Factory‖ as defined under the Uniform Commercial Code of the United States. One of the benefits of this trade term is that title of the goods passes to the buyer at our dock. When businesses engage in international trade, they cannot rely on the Uniform Commercial Code or domestic trade terms and should use the trade terms recognized by international traders.

dollars as their currency.S. import permits. The buyer’s bank will       . Air freight differs only in the bill of lading used. and lack of mechanized physical handling equipment in some of the lesser developed countries. Methods of payment: Where open account or cash in advance are the primary ways businesses have of collecting domestic accounts receivable. especially those that are being paid under a letter of credit. certificates and inspections. packing. Common considerations are availability of exchange. Methods of shipment: Businesses normally ship goods by mail. This allows the buyer to arrange for payment and any import permits that may be necessary to make the purchase decision of your product. international sales generally begin with payment by the buyer in their own currency. railroads to get the cargo to the port of export and another drayage trucking to transport your products to the ocean carrier at the pier. Because these modes of transportation differ a great deal. Among the greatest risks for damage to goods in foreign trade are: theft. Banking fees: Unless the importer used U. they need to be understood thoroughly before making a quotation. transportation by ocean freight or rail. Equally as common in international trade are letters of credit and drafts. In international trade. Insurance covering damage or loss: The seller has primary responsibility for loss or damage to the goods. Methods of packaging: Shipping goods internationally exposes the in-transit product to risks it would not otherwise encounter. truck or airfreight to their customers in the United States. truck shipments are limited to Canada and Mexico and most processed food products are shipped by air or ocean freight. ocean freight can include drayage to move ocean containers to your facility. handling and stowing of goods in order to satisfy the importers’ requirements as well as their governments’. There are specific documents for international shipments that vary in detail. cold and moisture. There may be certain documentation required in international trade that would reflect the proper packaging. Any changes to the quotation during that time must also be reflected in the documentation. they may not be as common in international trade. environmental risks such as heat. Import laws in the foreign country: Before making a quotation to a buyer in a foreign country. it will be necessary to determine what restrictions exist. The document preparation and procedures on these ―consignment controlled‖ shipments requires careful analysis and handling. country of origin of the product you are offering. in most cases. Meanwhile. handling and distribution from the domestic equivalent. all the way to the port of unloading in the foreign country. The importer may also have documentary requirements in the destination market that must be matched with the exporters’ prior to customs clearance. Validity period: The validity period of an international quotation is usually 90 days. particularly in the area of carrier’s liability. Insurance coverage is therefore a must for all international transactions. Insurance certificates are required for proof of coverage on many exports.

Even with a sample shipment. It is the main document used by customs to accept or reject the customs entry prepared by the customs broker. The seller should carefully develop the quote.and have little commercial value. often from a trade lead. For the buyer to obtain permission to exchange or to import the product. whether from an unsolicited direct inquiry or as follow-up from a trade event.S.S. It is generated by the exporter in response to an opportunity for export business. The banks charge a fee for this process. they will need to receive a quotation in the pro forma format.(Seller) Importer:.CETIN AYDIN FOODS . THERE ARE VARIOUS STEPS INVOLVED:- THE PRO FORMA INVOICE. Pro forma invoices can be either formal or informal documents depending on the requirements of the destination country. a formal contract for the exact amount exists. dollars. and needs to state the fact that the goods are not for resale . bank in U. Formal quotations usually require a letter of credit as the method of payment. a commercial invoice is required.FIRST STEP:The pro forma invoice is usually the first export document prepared. A pro forma invoice is a ―snapshot‖ of the offer as it stands at the moment. These fees vary depending on the method of payment being used. THE COMMERCIAL INVOICE:The commercial invoice is considered to be the most important international trade document and should be prepared as accurately as possible.are samples only .FILBERTS FOODS PVT LTD. . Exporter:. because once the buyer accepts the offer to sell at a certain price.then make arrangements to pay the exporter through a U. Virtually nothing is accomplished in an export transaction without the issuance and acceptance of a pro forma invoice. part of which will be for the seller’s account.

Foreign Customs: May also require a document evaluation in order to allow the customs clearance at the point of import. they would evaluate the invoice as part of their document review. so it is key in most customs clearances. Customs: May require a document evaluation if they have concerns about the shipment’s integrity.” Cost Insurance and Freight. grade. then depending on the method of payment. Often. The Customs Broker: Uses the invoice to prepare the customs entry forms at the point of import. Most duties are applied at an Ad Valorem rate. The Freight Forwarder: Uses the invoice in part to prepare the documentation they provide as part of their services. weight) Agreed-upon price in U. quality. the following information should be included:            Seller’s name and address Buyer’s name and address Exact description of goods (kind.The commercial invoice should reflect the exact nature and terms of the agreement that exist between the buyer and the seller. The invoice would be totaled to that amount and the duties paid accordingly. The Buyer’s Bank: If the buyer’s bank is making the payment on behalf of the importer. They are:          The Exporter: As a record of the shipment and the payment mechanism.S.S. The Insurance Company: The company that provides the marine cargo insurance for the shipment may also require an invoice as part of their file. dollars (in order to reduce foreign exchange risk) Description of packages (number. Although there is no standard form for a commercial invoice. . U. they would require an invoice as part of their document review. usually “CIF. The Importer: Also a record of shipment and payment mechanism. markings. submitted through banking channels or sent directly to the importer for payment. the commercial invoice will be prepared by the seller and totaled to the desired trade term. The Seller’s Bank: If the bank is involved in the payment. kind. which are on the value of the goods upon their arrival. dimensions) Type of container Delivery point Terms of payment Date and place of shipment Method of shipment Signature of shipper/seller Parties to the Transaction and the Commercial Invoice The parties involved in the export transaction that need an original or copy of the document underscores the importance of the commercial invoice. These arrangements need to be agreed upon between the seller and the freight forwarder prior to shipping the goods.

product quantity. Like the shipper’s export declaration. etc. phone. The forwarder not only prepares and validates the consular invoice. weight in pounds. A prime example of this is the ―Canadian Customs Invoice‖ that is required for shipments exceeding a specific Canadian dollar amount. Customs Broker Product invoice value Schedule B number Freight and documentation billing information Special instructions Signature and date CUSTOM AND CONSULAR INVOICES:Some countries require country-specific invoices that should be submitted along with the exporter’s commercial invoice. number of packages. address. cubic feet. The consulate of the destination country often sells these documents. and could be part of the pre-shipment inspection process many developing countries use to verify the description and value of the shipment prior to export. or they might be available through your freight forwarder. purchase order. or prepare the Canadian Customs Invoice as a matter of policy for each and every shipment. the SLI does not leave the United States. invoice. Because this amount and the exchange rates vary from time to time. marks) Consignee information Notify party – Importer. currently at C$1600. fax and contact name Shipper employee identification number Shipper reference numbers (bill of lading.THE SHIPPERS LETTER OF INSTRUCTION:This document is completed by the shipper and includes all of the information necessary for the freight forwarder or carrier to make transportation arrangements and complete the bill of lading and other related documents. A consular invoice could also be required along with the regular commercial invoice. The shipper’s letter of instruction should include:            Shipper’s company name. you should check at the time of shipment. but also handles the courier delivery and pick-up of the documents with the consulate. Agent.) Product information (description of goods. Check with your forwarder for an updated list of which countries require consular invoices or pre-shipment inspections. . The consular invoice is used along with the other export documents by the consulate to screen the transaction for fraud.

has a portal for companies to access a variety of regulatory sites for food products. CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN:The certificate of origin is used by a neutral third party to identify the origin of manufacture of the good. In this case. which is a good place to start evaluating your document requirements in this area. . and is covered later in this section. government.PRODUCT SPECIFIC DOCUMENTATION:Some food and agricultural products require product specific documentation certifying their safety. Trade Restrictions: The list of trade restrictions that may require an export license application. These reports are focused on consumer-ready products.S. The origin of manufacture. These rules may apply for embargoes of foreign countries. ATF. USDA Food Safety Inspection Service: The FSIS includes the ―Library of Export Requirements‖ for products such as red meat and poultry. domestic or foreign. USDA National Organic Program: The NOP has information on export certificates and trade issues for organic products. poultry. Seafood and Aquaculture: The Seafood Inspection Program offers information on import requirements for seafood products. The Foreign Agricultural Service. export statistics and it is also used by customs for export control purposes. Shipper’s Export Declaration: This is the main document required by the U. live animals and animal products to help ensure the product meets foreign import requirements. or allow local freight forwarders to do so on their behalf. describe import requirements and contacts for assistance. Export permits for alcoholic beverages: The Bureau of Alcohol. Many chambers of commerce in areas around ports of export sell and prepare the certificate of origin. is important to determine the proper duties to be applied by customs at the destination. which were reviewed in an earlier section. In this site. Shipments paid by letters of credit may require one as mandated by the issuing bank.S. FAS. Food and Agricultural Regulations & Standards: The ―FAIRS‖ reports. domestic shortages or other reasons. USDA/APHIS: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service provides inspection and veterinary services for plants. you will find the following:          U. but many will allow the ―general use‖ certificate to satisfy their requirements. Tobacco and Firearms.S. meat. the certificate of origin will need to be prepared exactly to the letter of credit requirements. purity and accordance with U. requires a Wholesalers Basic Permit for any resale. The Bureau of the Census and International Trade Administration uses it for compiling U. not the origin of export.S. Food and Drug Administration: The FDA issues export certificates for various products that may have that requirement. These rules need to be used in conjunction with the regulations at destination as well. or foreign government regulations. and they all recommend confirmation with the buyer or their customs broker in order to arrive at the correct compliance prior to shipment. Some countries have specific certificates of origin.

‖ or Shipper’s Export Declaration. This is a legal record of the shipment and a copy of the SED should be placed in the shipment file. and shipment to certain countries regardless of value. and is used to collect census information regarding exports. It can be prepared by the international freight forwarder handling your shipment and submitted electronically prior to export. You can obtain a copy from the forwarder. the origin and destination of the bill of lading are usually for the ―main carriage. Customs Form 7525-V is the technical name. The air waybill is normally issued by a freight forwarder acting as the agent for the airline who transports the goods. In international trade. Chambers of Commerce and freight forwarders are not allowed to prepare NAFTA Certificate of Origin on behalf of the exporter or producer who must self-certify. THE INTERNATIONAL AIR WAYBILL:The air waybill is the contract for carriage (bill of lading) for shipments made by airfreight. is the NAFTA. (i. if they are leaving under that mode of transport. based on the tremendous volume and value of goods crossing the North American borders each day.S. export licenses). freight forwarder or shipping company. regardless of value.500 (per Schedule B number) or shipments. The most frequently issued certificate of origin in the U. Trucking services may also provide bills of lading for export.S. For example. The lone exception to the requirement is for exports to Canada that are not on an export license and terminating there. but it is also known as the ―SED. such as an airline. of goods requiring permission from the U.However. steamship line. there are some specific requirements for certain countries. THE SHIPPER’S EXPORT DECLERATION:The shipper’s export declaration is required on shipments valued greater than $2.S.‖ This is usually the transportation from the port of export to the port of importation. This document goes by multiple names.The export declaration is a form designed and approved by the Bureau of Census. government to sell outside the U.‖ ―EX-DEC. In order to review the export declaration. such as transfers and delivery. THE BILL OF LADING:A bill of lading is a contract of carriage between an exporter and a service provider. The U. or an airfreight consolidator. shipments to Canada and Mexico require a NAFTA Certificate of Origin for preferential duty treatment under the NAFTA to apply.e. who may use the airline to transport the goods . or save your own if you complete it yourself. It identifies the parties to the transaction and their responsibility for payment of transportation and other accessorial fees. obtains its export data for Canada from Canadian Customs.S.

or bill of lading. the buyer can clear the goods immediately upon arrival at the destination port. The ocean bill of lading is normally issued by a freight forwarder acting as the agent for the ocean carrier who transports the goods. The higher the density usually means more attractive pricing for the shipment. shipment. which say ―To the order of‖ instead of ―To‖. The airline air waybill is known as the ―master air waybill‖ or ―Mawb. The most important points regarding the ocean bill of lading are:     If you consign the ocean bill of lading directly to the buyer in the foreign country. the forwarder will issue his ―house‖ air waybill. The most important things to know about the air waybill are:   If you consign the air waybill directly to the buyer in the foreign country. when signed.‖ you can control the title or possession of the goods until the buyer pays or signs a promissory note to pay at a later date. . and the charges will be based on either weight or volume depending on the density of the cargo.‖ If your shipment is consolidated with other cargo. the buyer can clear the goods immediately upon arrival at the destination port. The house bills are then consolidated into t he master air waybill. (Density is calculated as the amount of pounds per cubic foot. Options for declared value for carriage are best discussed with the freight forwarder who is handling your shipment. The carrier will charge the higher of the two costs. Negotiable bills of lading. you can control possession of the goods until the buyer pays or signs a promissory note.of several companies under its own master bill of lading. If less than a container load. LCL. the ocean carrier’s liability for loss or damage will be limited by the amount of liability stated in the ocean bill of lading.) INTERNATIONAL OCEAN BILL OF LADING:The ocean bill of lading is the contract for carriage. represent ownership of the goods and need to be protected from any other party obtaining them other than as directed by the shipper. depending on the density of the cargo. A minimum cost per kilo will be charged based on either weight or volume. or time draft. A ―To Order‖ bill of lading makes the document negotiable. or by an ocean freight consolidator. for shipments made by ocean freight. If you consign the ocean bill of lading ―to the order of the shipper. If the air waybill is consigned to a third party (normally the buyer’s bank). who will use the ocean carrier to transport the goods of several companies under its own master bill of lading. if the carrier picks the goods up from the exporter’s dock. For example. as it also includes an endorsement on the back by the shipper or their agent. to pay at a later date. This is quite similar to your paycheck or the checks you write. The carrier’s liability and where the liability begins.

their cubic feet and cubic meters and any markings or handling issues. An export packing list itemizes the material in each individual package and indicates the type of package—box. There are also two other types of duties applied to imports.‖ The shipper or forwarding agent to ascertain the total weight and volume in addition to determining whether the correct cargo is being shipped uses the list.THE PACKING LIST:The packing list is used by customs to apply certain types of duties. crate. crates. etc. bags) their gross and net weights. The packing list should either be included in or attached to the outside of the package in a waterproof envelope marked ―packing list enclosed. as they may consider your document package to be incomplete. tare and gross weights and measurements for each package (in both imperial and metric units). specific and compound. It is also used by shipping companies to identify the weight and dimensions of your product. The export packing list is considerably more detailed and informative than a standard domestic packing list. but a very complete list of all the products. weight or measure and this information comes from the packing list. known as ―Ad Valorem‖ duties. such as their pieces. You would not want foreign customers to confuse your commercial invoice and packing list. It shows the individual net. Package markings should be shown along with the shippers and buyer’s references. barrels. their packing (example: cartons. . but this is not recommended. Compound duties are applied as both Ad Valorem and Specific tariffs together and thus both the commercial invoice and packing list would be required for customs clearance. Many exporters simply block out the price on their commercial invoices and use it as a packing list. and should be completed in metric form. boxes. It is recommended to create your commercial invoice in portrait form and your packing list in landscape form to clearly point out the differences. Most duties are applied on a basis of value. legal. and the commercial invoice is key for those. Specific duties require the packing list as they are applied on the physical nature of the goods. carton. drum. and is a required document for customs clearance. It does not usually require any value for the merchandise.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful