SHIPPING DOCUMENTS IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS SHOULD KNOW
1. Commercial invoice
A commercial invoice is an essential shipping document that is issued to a buyer before their items are shipped.
2. Bill of lading
The bill of lading (BL or BoL) is a legal export trade document between the person shipping and the shipping company. It contains everything the shipping company needs to know to be able to get the goods to the right destination in optimal conditions.
3. Air waybill
An air waybill is a type of bill of lading and therefore, also contains key information of a shipment, like its destination and contents. It works similar to an ocean bill of lading. For such a document, the third-party carrier assumes responsibility from the time it receives the parcel to when it delivers it. What’s special about an air waybill is that it is non-negotiable, meaning only the specified receiver can accept the delivery and sign the document. Unlike other bills of lading, it also does not specify flight details or when it will reach its destination.
4. Certificate of origin
A certificate of origin (COO) is an important shipping document that helps in verifying a product’s country of origin. Through this, a custom’s authority would know where a certain product was produced, manufactured and processed. You can apply for a COO from your local chamber of commerce, submit and have it approved by the local authorities.
5. Export and import license
Different countries have different goods that they restrict shipping out of the country. These could include certain liquids, chemicals or medicines, or particular films and photographs. To export these goods, businesses would need to apply for a special export licence to obtain the permissions to bring such goods. To import or export goods which require a license, traders first must register with the Companies Commission.
6. Export packing list
An export packing list is a detailed document that provides information to the relevant parties that handle the shipment along the supply chain journey. It allows goods to be stored properly. For example, if you are shipping medicines that need to be stored at a particular temperature and handled specially, an export packing list provides the adequate information to ensure your parcel can be processed and handled properly.
An export packing list contains the following information:
- Exporter’s details
- Consignee and buyer’s details
- Shipping details (method of dispatch, shipment type, country of origin, country of final destination, voyage number, date of departure)
- Product and packaging details
- Authorised signature
7. Insurance certificate
An insurance certificate is proof of insurance coverage if a shipment is lost or damaged. It provides the buyer or consignee with the assurance that they will be compensated for any goods that fail to reach their destination. It also ensures the shipper is covered if something happens.
8. Inspection certificate
An inspection certificate is a document that professionally verifies that the contents of your shipment are of the quantity and quality specified, and that they are also what the buyer ordered.