Every import-export situation and every international shipment has its own set of required documents. Documentation is required by governments to monitor and control the traffic of merchandise across international borders. All forms must be properly completed with accurate information because missing, incomplete, or inaccurate forms or information could delay the shipment or result in lost or damaged goods.
Certain forms are usually required for all international shipments, including:
- A Bill of Lading serves two purposes. It documents the type and quantity of the shipment, and it serves as a receipt to verify that the shipment has reached its destination. Some Bills of Lading are country specific. Country specific Bills of Lading are required for some shipments between certain countries. For example, shipments from the United States to Mexico need to be accompanied by a completed Mexico Bill of Lading. Shipments from Canada to the United States also require a Canada Bill of Lading. Bills of Lading that are not country specific are known as Uniform Straight, or Straight, Bills of Lading, which are universal across all other borders.
- A Commercial Invoice, which serves as a bill of sale between the buyer and the seller of the product being shipped. It is used by governments to regulate imports and calculate tariffs. Some of the information provided on a Commercial Invoice includes a full product description and its intended use, the commercial value of the product and the country in which the product was produced or manufactured.
- A Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is a governmental form that needs to be completed in order to track and record export statistics.
- A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is not required but is recommended. It is used for shipments between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Its purpose is to determine if import shipments qualify for reduced or eliminated tariff obligations for goods obtained or produced in any of the above countries.
- Power of Attorney
- Packing Slips
- Letter of Authority for Blind Shipments