Export and Import Documentation


Export and Import Documentation 

Export and Import documentation must be precise because slight discrepancies or omissions may prevent merchandise from being exported, may result in nonpayment, or may even result in the seizure of the exporter’s goods by your government or foreign customs officials. Collection documents are subject to precise time limits and may not be honored by a bank if the time has expired. Most documentation is routine for freight forwarders and customs brokers, but as the exporter, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the necessary documents.

The number and kinds of documents that the exporter must deal with vary according to the destination of the shipment. Because each country has different import regulations, the exporter must be careful to provide all proper documentation. Remember to contact your local Commercial Service office for up-to-date foreign import information.

Export and Import Documentation

Air Waybill

– Covers an air freight shipment and can never be made negotiable. There are the Master and the House Air WaybillMAWB (Master Airway Bill) is the document issued by the airline, for consolidated loads, to the Cargo Agent. It represents the entire cargo received by the agent and delivered to the shipment, and remains with him, not arriving to the shippers. HAWB (House Airway Bill): is the document issued by the Cargo Agent, relating to a cargo that has been subject to consolidation. Usually several of these skills are issued for each Master. The sum of the HAWBs will be equal to the MAWB.

Bill of Lading

– A contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier (as with domestic shipments). For shipment by vessel, there are two types: a straight bill of lading, which is not negotiable and does not give title to the goods, and a negotiable, or shipper’s order, bill of lading. The latter can be bought, sold, or traded while the goods are in transit. The customer usually needs an original bill of lading as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.

Commercial Invoice

– A bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. Many governments use commercial invoices to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties.

Consular Invoice

– Required document in some countries. Describes the shipment of goods and shows information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment, certified by the consular official of the foreign country.

Certificate of Conformity

– Required by some countries, usually for certain kinds of manufactured goods. Exporters are required to have the product analyzed and tested by an authorized third party.

Certificate of Origin

– Required by some countries.  A signed statement as to the origin of the export item. Certificates of origin are usually validated by a semiofficial organization, such as a local chamber of commerce.

GSP Certificate of Origin Form A

– Form A is a special type of certificate of origin. It does not only states the origin of goods, but also allows importers to be benefited from reduced tariff rates during importation.

NAFTA Certificate of Origin

– Required for products traded among the signatory countries of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Canada, Mexico, and the United States) if the goods are NAFTA qualified and the importer is claiming zero-duty preference under NAFTA.

Inspection Certification

– Required by some purchasers and countries to attest to the specifications of the goods shipped. The inspection is usually performed by a third party, often an independent testing organization.

Dock Receipt/Warehouse Receipt

– Used to transfer accountability when the domestic carrier moves the export item to the port of embarkation and leaves it with the shipping line for export.

Export License

– A government document that authorizes the export of specific items in specific quantities to a particular destination.

Import License

– A government document that authorizes the import of specific items in specific quantities from a particular origin.

Packing List

– It itemizes the material in each package and indicates the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton, the individual net, tare, and gross weights and measurements for each package.

Insurance Certificate

– Used to assure the consignee that insurance will cover the loss of or damage to the cargo during transit.


Export and Import Documents: kinds of documents

These are the main Export and Import documents.

The Intradebook platform to make international business, developed in several languages, has features for issuing and documents such as Proforma Invoice, Commercial Invoice and Packing List, and also helps to check various export and import documents such as Letter of Credit, Certificates of Origin, Invoices, Bill of Lading and AirWaybill and others.


Based on “A basic guide to exporting”, U. S. Commercial Service.

2 Responses to “Export and Import Documentation

  • Dear Alfredo

    The information’s given are especially for US foreseen, this should have been précised if feel…

    for example :
    AWB : there are the Master and the House….
    B/L : even more there are B/L for FCL or LCL
    CMR : road truck manifest especially for Europe distribution foreseen…
    Certificate of origin should be segregated in for preferential or non preferential origin… ( in the first case, and based on which FTA’s used in between which countries) those could be certified equally on the invoice directly if the exporter is an *approved exporter*
    GSP Certificate : Form A are more and more being replaced by the REX application especially used in between GSP or LGSP countries and EU/EFTA countries…
    Consular invoice is mainly the commercial invoice that has been approved with the certificate of non preferential origin by the embassy or country of destination representation in the country of export
    in pharma CoA and CoC are mainly issued by the company itself and are mandatory documentations to follow the goods and shipments.
    License : there are export permit and import permit… based on the goods that are traded…
    there is also not to forget all the part controls on sanction based on the country of destination

    I hope haven’t bother too much…
    kind regards


  • Dear Arno,

    Your observations are correct. I have adopted the American standard for our users in America, but I will prepare other more generic material for all countries.
    Thanks for the contribution.
    We offer our blog for any contribution you wish to publish, mentioning that the contribution is yours.


    Alfredo Kleper Lavor

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