The Export Documentation Needed for The Safe Passage of Your Goods

Export Documentation

The Export Documentation


To be able to export goods into other countries, exporters are required to have specific export documentation. This documentation will vary based on the government from which it is being shipped and the receiving governments regulations.

Here are some of the most common documents required for export documentation.

Airway bills are required when exporting goods via airfreight. The export document includes conditions, limitation of liability, shipping instructions and charges for the shipment.

This is a general form that has been adapted by the airline industry and is a non-negotiable form meaning that the document cannot be transferred to another party.

The General Form for Export Documentation

A bill of lading is a document and also a contract between the owner of the export goods and the carrier. This form is also the owner’s receipt of the goods. It is imperative that the owner keeps a copy of this form in order to claim the goods. A bill of lading can be negotiable or non-negotiable.

A commercial invoice is an export document that is required by customs in most countries that determines how much the cargo is worth. Customs use this invoice to assess duties and tax. A commercial invoice must identify the buyer and seller of the export and provide a complete description of the cargo. It should also including the type of packaging used and the dates and terms of the sale. There may be other information required depending on the receiving country.

The export packing list is required documentation for exported goods. This document is a detailed itemization of the goods contained within. It should be attached to the outside of the package and should clearly give the tare weights and gross weights of the package.  The weights should be displayed in both U.S. pounds and metric.

A Shipper’s Exportation Declaration (SED) is a required export document when the shipment is valued over $2500 according to schedule B. If the shipment is a postal shipment a SED must be utilized if the shipment is over $500. This piece of export documentation has two purposes. It is used as a source of documentation for the U.S. Census for exports and as a regulation document.

An Export license will often be required for the exportation of products from one country to another. It is a government document that gives the exporter authorization to make such a transaction. Yet it is not required for all exports.

Other export documentation may be required depending on the importing and exporting countries.  NAFTA certificate of origin is required for exports among the NAFTA countries, dock receipts, inspection certification, and a certification of origin may be additional required export documentation. Again this varies from country to country.

Ensuring your Export Documentation

Ensure that all of your documentation is accurate. Variations in export documentation can prevent your products from shipping or may result in the importing country seizing the goods.  Each country has different export/import regulations so ensure to incorporate the proper paperwork with the shipment.

If you enjoyed reading about The Export Documentation Needed for The Safe Passage of Your Goods then see our next article Import Documentation.

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