The import/export process involves going through and clearing customs. This is where items are checked in when they are either entering or leaving a country. In order for items to be legally transported, there are several documents that are needed for shipments to smoothly pass through.
Bill of Entry and Bill of Lading
The Bill of Entry and Bill of Lading contain valuable information as to what the shipment contains, its value, and where it is coming from as well as where it is going. These two documents must be complete, accurate, and as detailed as possible about the contents of the shipment.
Commercial Invoice and Purchase Order
The Commercial Invoice and Purchase Order both contain information about the person or company who is selling the shipment as well as who is buying it. These documents will also contain any financial agreements that pertain to payment and how the order is to be shipped. All fees are listed on the documents, in addition to any payment agreements.
Import License and Insurance Certificate
The Import License must be obtained prior to the shipment and presented with the other documents as the shipment enters Customs. The Insurance Certificate must also be presented and will verify that the shipment is fully insured during the transportation process.
Other documents may be included that offer technical information or special instructions that need to be adhered to while the shipment is being transported. Before releasing a shipment to the carrier, it’s important that you have all of the paperwork in order. If not, you could face lengthy delays as the shipment attempts to clear customs. Always double check your paperwork and verify that each document is full and complete before you send it with the carrier.