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What Is Import Export Documentation And How Can An Importer Of Record Help?

When you are importing or exporting products the right paperwork is crucial. Missing or inaccurate documents can increase risks, lead to delays and extra costs, or even prevent a deal from being completed. Whether you are importing or exporting you need to be aware of the paperwork that is required.

To help anyone in this situation understand import and export documentation, but also how an Importer of Record can help, we have put together a guide of the key documentation you should be aware of. Please bear in mind that the documentation you require, and the import/export control regulations do differ depending on what you are importing or exporting and where it is going to or from. There may also be specific documentation required, however, here are the most common documents.

Bill of lading or airway bill

Both of these are designed to state what goods are being shipped, where they are going and where the shipment started. Depending upon the mode of transport, one of these documents will be required to be submitted along with the commercial invoice and packing list to customs for clearance.

Bill of Lading is a multimodal transport document issued by the shipping line certifying carriage of the cargo and an Airway Bill is a transport document issued by an Airline or a Freight Forwarder who certifies the airfreight cargo.

Certificate of origin

This document is required in order to identify in what country the goods originated. It is often prepared by the manufacturer and may need to be certified by a government entity or chamber of commerce. A certificate of origin may be required even if the country of origin information is on your commercial invoice.

You can now also get an electronic certificate of origin (eCO) for some shipments. They are much less time-consuming and easier for companies to complete. It also allows you the option of delivering the certificate electronically to the importer and can be registered with the International Chamber of Commerce to provide added credibility.

Commercial invoice

A commercial invoice is a document that is a bill for the goods that are being imported/exported. The commercial invoice includes most of the details of the entire export transaction, from start to finish. These invoices are also often used by governments to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties. 

Customs will also verify the rates charged in the commercial invoice and can even question the rates applied if they have sufficient cause to believe that the rates charged are not as per international market rates or if the invoice is undervalued to avoid duties. So, it is important that this invoice is correct. 

Packing list

This is essentially an incredibly detailed and informative packing list. It needs to contain everything from the seller, buyer and shipper to the date of shipment, mode of transport and carrier. Of course, the most important part of the packing list is the number of items, a description of them along with the type of package and the quantity of the packages. 

A packing list may sometimes serve as conforming document and it is never a substitute for a commercial invoice, you do require both. On this document, you can also include any special instructions for ensuring the safe delivery of the goods to their final destination.

These are only a few of the documents that you will require to import or export goods and there will more than likely be others required too. If this all sounds quite confusing, then it would be incredibly beneficial for you to work alongside an Importer of Record who is very experienced with this whole process and the documentation required. They will also be able to advise you further regarding export business licences, so you don’t need to worry about this either. 

If you are specifically importing or exporting IT products then Blackthorne  is the perfect company to assist you. They provide a door-to-door logistics service and will handle every element of the delivery of your IT products. Instead of you having to worry about import/export guidelines and documentation, they will be able to advise and assist as and when required.

How can we help you?

Discover our range of fully compliant solutions of for expert help, please get in touch with us at Blackthorne.