Essential Documents for Smooth International Shipping – W Group

Posted on April 29th, 2021

Whether you’re exporting or importing goods internationally, accurate paperwork is key to your goods arriving timeously, with minimal hassles. The most important shipment documents need to be in order before shipping even takes place. With the right documentation, your goods will arrive at its destination with very little delay at customs. 

To ensure you know what is required, we’ve listed which international shipping documents are mandatory before you ship your goods. 

International Shipping Requirements: Export and Import 

In most cases, your supplier will handle the shipping documents for export. All you need to do is focus on the international shipping requirements for importing your goods. The crucial documents for import include:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of Lading

No importing process can take place without these three shipping documents for import in place.

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is compulsory for all international shipping. Details such as the value of the order, the type of products being shipped, and the consignee are all included on this invoice. 

Customs will ask for this document and use it to determine the value of custom duties for your goods. Other information such as the marine insurance, purchase order number, and payment information can be included in the commercial invoice. 

Packing List

Mandatory shipment documentation required for international shipping also includes the packing list. Not only is this list useful for your freight forwarder when compiling a bill of lading but customs will also demand to see this list. 

The packing list details the volume specifics of the cargo being shipped as well as the type of products. The dimensions of the products are specified and the quantity of each product type. This document becomes useful for the recipient of the goods when checking that all goods indicated on the bill of lading is actually being delivered. 

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading documents are those used for inland transport, ocean shipping, and air freight. These bills of ladings are needed by your carrier of choice and can be used as:

  • A contract of carriage
  • A document of title for the cargo being shipped

An ocean waybill can be a straight bill of lading which is assigned to a specific consignee and can’t be negotiated at any point. The signed bill of lading is presented to the carrier handling the shipment. A negotiated bill of lading is another type of document used in ocean shipping and is consigned to and signed by the shipper. 

An air bill of lading is non-negotiable and becomes the contract of carriage between the carrier and the shipper. 

Final Thoughts

Without the three most important shipping documents mentioned above, you’ll not be able to import your goods internationally. You may also be asked to arrange paperwork such as a certificate of origin, bank drafts, dangerous goods forms and a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction. 

Speak to our global freight services department at WGroup. We’ll gladly assist you in preparing all the types of shipping documents and paperwork required for your next international shipment.