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Commonly Required Shipping Documents for Importing or Exporting Goods

Did you know that over 50% of small businesses already have a presence in an international market? It’s no secret that expanding to another country can be great for your sales numbers, but it isn’t as easy as most people believe.

Expanding also applies to situations where you need to import or export goods. If your business brings products into the United States or sends them elsewhere, you will need to have certain shipping documents on hand.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the set of documents you need for international shipping in order to avoid legal complications.

Bill of Lading

When importing or exporting shipping cargo, you will need to have a bill of lading in order to avoid problems in the future. This is one of the most important documents when it comes to shipping.

It proves that you own the products that are being transported and also ensures that they will arrive at their destination safely. The bill of lading must be signed by both the sender and the recipient, and it must include a description of the products that are being transported.

Otherwise, it will not be valid. An invalid bill of lading is useless and cannot be used to import or export goods, and it may also delay your overall shipping process.

Commercial Invoice

This document is also essential when importing or exporting goods. It proves that the products being transported are for business purposes only, and it includes a list of the items that are being shipped.

The commercial invoice must be signed by both the sender and the recipient in order to be valid. Without a commercial invoice, you won’t be able to import or export under most circumstances. For instance, some countries have regulations that declare certain products can only be shipped if they are for a commercial purpose.

Packing List

When shipping products, you will need to provide a packing list. This document includes a detailed description of the products that are being shipped, as well as their weight and dimensions.

Put simply, it is a form that details everything about the shipment and must be as transparent as possible. If your packing list does not align with what you ship, you might run into legal issues. This could include fines, fees, and similar penalties.

Certificate of Origin

If your business exports products to other countries, you will need to provide a certificate of origin. This document proves that the products were manufactured in your country, establishing a source for them.

Some countries will not let you export goods if you do not have a certificate of origin. This is simply due to the fact that they will not know where the goods originally came from, and certain countries ban imports from certain regions.

Destination Control Statement

This document is used to prove that the products being shipped are not intended for release in a certain destination country.

For instance, let’s assume that your destination control statement indicates that you can only release the goods in Malaysia. If the shipping freight passes through other countries during the process, the cargo legally cannot be opened or kept until it reaches the target country.

As you might guess, not having a destination control statement can come with many consequences. One of the most prominent is that you could face criminal or civil penalties, as the local government could perceive this situation as illicitly importing banned goods.

Arrival Notice

When your products arrive at their destination, you will need to provide an arrival notice. This document includes information about the products that have been shipped, as well as their weight and dimensions. Of course, it also includes information about the intended destination and arrival time of the cargo.

Looking for more information about how to successfully import or export your goods? You can check out this resource on shipping consulting to learn more.

Insurance Certificate

If your business is shipping products overseas, you will need to have an insurance certificate. This will prove that the products are insured during transport. It can be difficult to ship goods if you do not have insurance since the transporters do not want to be liable if any damage occurs. Additionally, exporters who do not have insurance will have to cover losses on their own

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

This document is used to provide specific instructions to the shipping company. To elaborate, they may need to handle certain goods in a particular manner in order to avoid damage. The same could be said when it comes to preserving the integrity of the shipping cargo.

The exporter may also need the shipper to deliver the product while following certain guidelines. Be sure that you keep this in mind in the future so you can ensure that your goods arrive safely and appropriately.

Inspection Certification

For a business that imports products into the United States, you will need to provide an inspection certification. This document proves that the products have been inspected and are safe for consumption in other countries.

If you do not have this document available, you may run into issues as your goods cross the border. In some cases, government agencies at the border may seize the products.

You Cannot Overlook These Required Shipping Documents

Otherwise, you might encounter complications in the future when running your company. By keeping this list of shipping documents in mind, you can avoid complications that you would have otherwise experienced.

Looking for more tips on how to run a successful business? Our blog has plenty of other useful information.