The documents used in import and export can be classified according to the function they perform. Specifically, we can recognize:
– Commercial documents
– Financial documents
– Transport documents
– Insurance documents
– Documents issued by government bodies and chambers of commerce
Other no specific documents, in the context of import and export, can be effectively used to facilitate the import export processes, such as the letter of intent (loi) or proof of funds.
Commercial documents can be divided into:
– Request of quotation letter;
– Letter of Intent (Loi) issued by the buyer with a specific purchase promise;
– Letter of presence of the funds;
– Sales Contract issued by the exporter;
– Proforma Invoice issued by the exporter;
– Commercial invoice;
– Detailed Packing List (packing list and weights)
– Packing List issued by the exporter
– Inspection Certificate and quality control
– Certificates of conformity
– Safety tests relating the goods
– Test Report
– Health Certificates
– Fumigation Certificate
– Consular Invoice
– Ata Carnet
The financial documents are:
– Documentary Credit;
– Standby Documentary Credit
– Commercial Draft
– Promissory Note
– Proof of Confidence
The Transport Documents are:
– Shipping order
– Booking receipt
– Bill of lading
– Sea Waybill
– House Bill of lading
– Air Waybill
– House Air Waybill
– Land transport docs
The Insurance Documents are:
– Insurance Policy
The Documents issued by government agency are:
– Certificate of origin
– GSP Form A
– Import / Export license
– International Import Certificate
– Import / Export Declaration
– Delivery Verification Certificate
– Landing Certificate
– Custom Invoice
As we have already explained in the previous article, there are many documents involved in international trade. Processing the shipment of an export, the documentation may include several contracts, including:
the export sales contract, the transport contract and the cargo insurance contract.
It is important to understand every of these documents and what of them are used in the context of international trade.
The Commercial Documents are:
- The Quotation
It is an offer for the sale of goods that indicates the price, quality, commercial terms, delivery and payment terms. It is a document prepared by the exporterm but, before that, we usually have a RFQ (Request For Quotation), which is a request from the potential buyer addressed to the supplier. In general, the request is standard in the model, if it is online you can use a tender (e-procurement software), in this case it is necessary to create a matrix with the fields to be filled in, to allow a quick comparison between suppliers. Within a RFQ, the following points cannot be missing:
– Quantity Request / Volumes;
– a description or technical illustrations;
– qualitative requirements;
– The delivery terms;
– The contractual and payment terms;
– A draft of the Sales Contract;
– Specific requests relating to packaging;
– Any other points and specificities, relating the type of product.
- The Sales Agreement
It is an agreement between the buyer and the seller, which defines every detail of the transaction. It is prepared by the exporter and signed by the importer and the exporter.
- The Proforma Invoice
It is a pre-invoice prepared by the supplier before the shipment of the goods and it informs the buyer about the type and quantity of goods, their value and the import specifications (weight, dimensions and other features). It hasn’t tax value. It is prepared by the exporter and it must be accepted by the importer.
- The commercial invoice
It is a formal payment request document and it is prepared by the exporter to the importer, for the goods sold with a sales contract. This document contains important information such as details about the goods, the terms of payment and the commercial conditions.
- The packing list
It is a list with detailed information of the packaging, which is prepared by the exporter after loading.
- The Certificate of Inspection
It is a document issued by an independent inspector of an inspection company or by the exporter, which indicates the specific information of the shipment.
- The Insurance Policy
It is a document that indicates the details of the insurance coverage and it certifies the insurance of the goods. It is prepared by an insurance company.
- The Certificate of Insurance
It is a document prepared by the insurer and it indicate that the shipment has been insured by a specific policy and it cover the loss or damage of the cargo, during the transport, based on the requirements established by the coverage.
- The product test certificate
It indicates that the product is in compliance with international and national technical standards, such as quality and safety. The document is prepared by accredited laboratories.
- The Medical Certificate
It is a document issued by the competent country in case of export of agricultural or food products, to indicate that they are in compliance with relevant legislation in the exporter’s country. This document confirmes that the products were in good condition before shipment and at the time of delivery and they are adequate for human consumption. We also have a generic health certificate, which doesn’t only concern foodstuffs, but which is necessary for all MOCA products (i.e. products in contact with food).
- Phytosanitary certificate
It is often internationally required for the shipments of plants or vegetal materials and it must be issued by the country of the exporter. It certifies the product is free from diseases and parasites harmful to plants and it is in compliance with the phytosanitary regulations of the importer’s country.
- Fumigation certificate
It is a pest control certificate, which certifies that the products have been subjected to fumigation by approved services. It is especially required in some countries such as: United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
- Carnet ATAE
It is an international customs document to obtain temporary admission free of duty for international fairs, samples and professional equipment. It is produced by the exporter and it is used in the signatory countries of the ATA Convention
- Consular invoice
It is a document produced by the exporter and which indicates all information regarding the shipment (sender, recipient … etc). The consular invoice was issued by the consular office of the importer’s country, based in the exporter’s country. Originally, the function of the consular invoice was to certify the value of the goods, to ensure that the invoice don’t indicate a value lower than the real market value. This function was particularly relevant when the goods were subjected, in the importer’s country, to a duty “ad valorem” regime or if they were goods subject to an anti-dumping regime. Today, the consular invoice haven’t this function, because the consular authorities don’t enter into the merits of the value of the goods, but affixing their signature, the consular authority certifies the veracity of the invoice.
- Transport documents
They are documents prepared by the transport company, which indicates the details of the load and the requirements of the shipper. These are basic documents used to prepare other subsequent transport documents.
- Bill of lading (B / L)
It is a document issued by the shipping company, which shows a contract signed between the shipper of the goods and the courier. The customer, to take possession of the goods, must have the original copy of this document.
- Air Waybill (AWB)
It is a type of waybill prepared by the airline and used for air freight transport. It isn’t a title document, therefore it is neither transferable nor negotiable, but it’s a receipt of the goods indicating the conditions of transport.
- House Air Waybill (HAWB)
It is an air waybill and it isn’t a title document, prepared by the shipper and issued by an air transport agent, for the description and records of the cargo.
- Packing list (sometimes it is a packing note)
It is a list prepared by the forwarder, which contains important information for the transport, such as: the details of the invoice, the recipient and buyer details, the country of origin, the port / airport of loading, the port / airport of unloading, the place of delivery, the weight or volume of the cargo and other information about the cargo, including information on packaging.
Some Government Documents used are:
- The Certificate of Origin (CO)
It is a certificate produced by the Department of Commerce and Industry, which indicates the place of manufacture of the exported goods, the customs entry, the gross weight and other information that guarantees the goods have the requirements of the importing authorities.
- Generalized Systems of Preferences (GSP) FORM A
FORM A is also a certificate of origin, which is prepared by the Department of Commerce and Industry to support the request for preferential rate (reduced or zero rate) of products of the exporting country. This document was introduced, between European Union countries and developing countries, to facilitate trade, reducing or eliminating duties of some products.
- The Import / Export License
It is a document issued by the competent trade and industry department, which authorizes the imports and exports of controlled goods.
- Customs invoice
It is a document prepared by the customs authorities of importing country, which indicates various information, including the sale price, transport costs, customs duties, etc.