Sea
Air
Land
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    Making International Connections
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Specific documentation is required for international trade and for the shipment of goods. Accurate documentation is essential for a successful carriage and receipt of payment for delivery.

Before arranging the movement of goods, the freight forwarder or agent must receive clear instructions from the importer or exporter, ideally there should be a decent time scale in advance of the goods being moved. The instructions should be clear in writing and should be confirmed via email or fax. This avoids any future confusion or discrepancies.

Other documents that should be provided by the importer or exporter are invoices, packing lists and any applicable licences. Hazardous goods declarations are the responsibility of the shipper.

Each mode of transport has its own document of carriage, such as the bill of lading or express release sea waybill for sea freight.

The issuer of any such documents may change, but freight forwarders and agents need to be familiar with them and their individual procedures.

When dangerous goods have been arranged to be transported, the dangerous goods must be accompanied by a transport document called a ‘Dangerous Goods Note (DGN)’, declaring the description and nature of the goods. The dangerous goods note must be detailed in accordance with the specifications set by the dangerous goods regulations applicable to transport by road and sea.

The dangerous goods note must be completed by the consignor or loading point from whom the goods have been received for transport. A dangerous goods note is not required for limited quantities.

Pro-forma Invoice

A pro-forma invoice is prepared in advance of a planned sales transaction.

Alternatively, a pro-forma invoice is used when the goods are being supplied free of charge to the consignee, for example, samples, gifts or inter-company material.

A pro-forma invoice must contain the following information:

  • Full name and postal address of the shipper and the receiver with contact details
  • Number and date of issue of the pro-forma invoice
  • Description of goods in sufficient detail
  • Quantity of goods, price per unit
  • Total value of goods
  • Currency
  • Country of origin of the goods (manufacturer name is not necessary)
  • The purpose for export (it is necessary to mention whether the shipment falls under a contract, or free of charge)
  • Payment terms
  • Delivery terms in accordance with agreement
  • Order number and date of agreement
  • Signature and stamp

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is used when the goods shipped are under commercial transaction, for example, the goods have been purchased by the receiver, and are for permanent export.

A commercial invoice must contain the following information:

  • Full name and postal address of the seller and the buyer with contact details
  • Number and date of issue of commercial invoice and the number of the purchase order for the goods, if applicable
  • Marks and numbers, quantity, type, and gross weight of packages
  • Trade description of goods in sufficient detail
  • Quantity of the goods shown in units and their gross and net weights
  • Price of goods (specific unit price and total price of the order) and currency
  • Any such discounts and additional charges, for example, insurance. If any, the discounts and additional charges should be indicated in the invoice only if they are mentioned and are fixed in the contract.
  • Payment terms, time and mode of delivery as well as terms, time and mode of payment
  • Country of origin of the goods, manufacturer name is not necessary
  • Port of loading and port of discharge, and means of transport used, vessel name is not necessary
  • Sales contract number and date
  • One original signed copy of the invoice is required, as well as five copies (however, please check with the buyer as they may request additional originals and copies. Also, if shipment falls under a ‘Letter of Credit’, you may be required to also provide additional originals and copies)

Export Packing List

A packing list is a normal requirement for an export shipment. This is a document that itemises a number of details about the cargo such as:

  • The name of the seller, and their contact details such as telephone and fax numbers, e-mail, physical address
  • The name of the importer, referred to as the consignee, their contact details such as telephone and fax numbers, e-mail, physical address
  • The gross weight (product and packaging), the tare weight (packaging without any contents), the net weight (product only)
  • The nature, quality and specifications of the products being exported
  • The nature of the packages (such as pallets, boxes, crates, drums, cartons, etc)
  • The measurements and dimensions of each package
  • The number of pallets, boxes, crates, drums, etc.
  • The contents of each pallet or box, or other container
  • The packages markings, if any, as well as shippers and buyers reference numbers, if any
  • Commercial invoice number and date
  • Purchase order number between the supplier and importer
  • Mode of transport, vessel name is not necessary
  • Bill of Lading or Sea Waybill number

Fumigation Certificate – If Required

A fumigation certificate certifies that the exported grains, oilseeds, beats, animal hides and other such items, and additionally any wood packaging and vegetable stuffing have been fumigated. In worldwide exchange, to secure the domestic resources, nations will execute mandatory quarantine procedures on all imported freight. The fumigation of the wood packaging is an obligatory measure taken to keep any pests from harming the woodland assets of the importing nation.

Cargo Insurance Certificate (Marine Insurance Placing)

As there is always a possible risk of damage or loss during transit, it’s sensible to insure your goods according to their value so that you are covered in the event that any such damage or loss occurs. Cargo insurance covers loss or physical damage to your goods while in transit, and covers transportation by road, sea, rail and air. Additional insurance cover can be taken out to protect against incidents such as theft or damage during loading. The terms of sale agreed between the seller and buyer in the contract of sale decides who is responsible for arranging and payment of the insurance cover. The full address of the seller and buyer as well as the full description and total gross weight of the cargo is always submitted (full description of goods includes number of packages and full trade description and quantity of the goods). Any such marks and numbers should also be submitted. If the shipper is arranging the marine insurance placing, the value insured and that will be shown on the insurance certificate should consist of the full cost of the goods being shipped (including the cost of any packaging), the transport costs that the shipper will be charging to the buyer, and then 10% of that total amount should then be added to the amount.

Export Cargo Shipping Instruction (ECSI)

The ECSI is the instruction to the international carrier or freight forwarder that has been appointed to cover the transport of goods. The ECSI contains information on the goods, route to their destination, transport requirements, customs information, the receiver of the final documentation, allocation of the costs. The full address of the seller and buyer as well as the full description and total gross weight of the cargo is always submitted (full description of goods includes number of packages and full trade description and quantity of the goods). Any such marks and numbers should also be submitted.

Standard Shipping Note (SSN)

The SSN can be completed by the exporter or load point. However freight forwarders and agents can also complete this form on behalf of the exporter. This document arrives at the port, container base, or cargo receiving depot or terminal and advises them of the necessary information required in order to handle the goods safely.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

The B/L is a document that provides evidence of the contract between exporter and buyer. It’s a receipt that the goods have been delivered and received into the custody of the carrier and is a document of title. This allows the ownership of the goods to be temporarily transferred while the goods are in transit. The B/L is completed by the international carrier, or in some cases a ‘House Bill of Lading’ can be completed and issued by a freight forwarder or agent.

Sea Waybill (SWB)

The SWB is similar to the B/L but it does not provide title of goods. It allows the goods to be collected by the buyer or agent upon presentation of proof of identity, reducing any possible delays upon arrival.

Export Licencing

The movement of many strategic goods, especially those with a military (or potential military) purpose, is controlled through export licences. The Export Control Organisation provides advice and issues licences for UK exporters.

Movement Certificates

Forms ATR1 and EUR1 provide evidence to support preferential trade with Turkey and other countries that have reciprocal trade agreements with the European Union. These documents can be obtained from your local Chambers of Commerce or by using commercial consular services providers. Services may include on-line application and issuing of certificates. Your local chamber can be located through the British Chambers of Commerce, www.britishchambers.org.uk

It is also possible to use simplified procedures such as low value invoice declarations, ATR2 and EUR2 documents, or by obtaining authorised exporter status. Details of these procedures are published in customs notices 812 and 827 which are available from Customs on 0845 010 9000 or at www.hmrc.gov.uk

The EUR1 preference system is only applicable to countries that have certain trade agreements with the EU. These countries are as follows:

Albania, Algeria, Bosnia / Herzegovina, Ceuta & Melilla, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Faroe Islands, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank / Gaza Strip

Certificate Of Origin

The buyer may request the exporter to provide a Certificate of Origin, which may be required for customs clearance or banking purposes.

A Certificate of Origin (often abbreviated as C/O or COO) is a document used in international trade. It is completed by the exporter or its agent and certified by an issuing body, certifying that the goods have been wholly produced, manufactured or processed in a certain country.

The origin does not certify to the country where the goods were shipped from but to the country that they were manufactured or produced in. If the materials or products were manufactured in two or more countries, origin is obtained in the country where the last substantial economically justified working or processing is carried out.

Certifying the origin of a product is vital as it is required for applying tariff and other important details. Not all exporter shipments require a certificate of origin, this will depend on the destination of the goods and their nature.

It is always important to confirm with the buyer if they require any such document. If so, please always have the buyer confirm if the certificate of original is to be certified only or certified and legalised.

Local Chambers of Commerce or commercial consular services providers can arrange to certify any such documents and can also provide legalisation for any such document from the respective UK embassy of the country of destination. Your local chamber can be located through the British Chambers of commerce, www.britishchambers.org.uk

ATA Carnet

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that temporary allows the export and import of goods for up to one year without having to pay any local duties or taxes. This eliminates the requirement to purchase temporary import bonds. As long as the goods are re-exported within one year, no duties or taxes are due. If you fail to re-export all or some of the goods listed on the Carnet, you will be required to make payment of the applicable duties and taxes. In the event of failure to pay the applicable duties, a claim from the foreign customs service to the importers home country is submitted.

ATA is a combination of French and English, "Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission."

Such documents can be obtained from your local Chambers of Commerce or by using commercial consular services providers. Your local chamber can be located through the British Chambers of Commerce, www.britishchambers.org.uk

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