Handling & Documentation


Handling and Documentation Requirements

Each country has a different set of documentation requirements both for outbound and inbound shipments. Most often, international shipments should be accompanied by a Bill of Lading, and/or Shipper’s Letter of Instruction, a commercial invoice, a packing list and a certificate of origin. For specific document requirements for international freight shipments, please contact our customer service.

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The following documents are commonly used in exporting and importing goods. However, for specific documentation requirements, please contact us.

  1. Air freight shipments are handled by Air Waybills (AWB) which is a contract between the shipper and airline that states the terms and conditions of air transportation.
  2. Ocean Bill of Lading (B/L) is a receipt for cargo in transit, and a contract between the exporter and an ocean carrier for transportation and delivery of goods to a specified party at a specified foreign destination. The Ocean Bill of Lading is issued after the vessel has sailed and the cargo has been entered in the ship’s manifest.
  3. Commercial Invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties. Governments that use the commercial invoice to control imports will often specify its form, content, numbers of copies, language to be used, and other characteristics.
  4. Certificate of Origin is a document that is required in certain nations. It is a signed statement as to the origin of the export item.  Certificate of origin are usually signed through a semi-official organization, such as a local chamber of commerce. A certificate may still be required even if the commercial invoice contains the information.
  5. An Export License is a government document that authorizes the export of specific goods in specific quantities to a particular destination. This document may be required for most or all exports to some countries or for other countries only under special circumstances.
  6. A Packing List itemizes the material in each individual package and indicates the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton. It also shows the individual net, legal, tare, and gross weights and measurements for each package (in both U.S. and metric systems). Package markings should be shown along with the shipper’s and buyer’s references. The list is used by the shipper or forwarding agent to determine the total shipment weight and volume and whether the correct cargo is being shipped.
  7. A Cargo Insurance Certificate is used to assure the consignee that insurance will cover the loss of or damage to the cargo during transit. Contact us for insurance coverage, limitations and premiums.
    Documentation must be precise, because slight discrepancies or omissions may prevent merchandise from being exported, result in non-payment, or even result in the seizure of the exporter’s goods. Collection or proper documents are subject to precise time limits and may not be honored by a bank if the time has expired. The exporter or importer of record is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the documents it they provide.

The number and kind of documents the exporter must deal with varies depending on the origin & destination of the shipment and description of the goods. Because each country has different import regulations, the exporter or importer must be careful to provide all proper documentation.