The shipping industry is evolving. Nowadays, this kind of industry is available for everybody - both individuals shipping their belongings and massive corporations shipping their goods. And, because of this, we hear many people talking about import and export, packing, storing, schmoozing and all other interesting things that international trade stands for. But, what about the not so interesting aspects of shipping, the so-called, pre-shipping paperwork? Yes, everybody hates this dull part, however, without these documents, you would not be able to expand your businesses internationally, deliver goods and of course, make money. Thus, without further ado, let us tackle the issue of pre-shipping paperwork you need to handle.
1. Proforma Invoice Document
First things first, everything starts with an inquiry. This inquiry can be about one, or about all the products being shipped. If you are shipping your goods domestically, you will probably receive a standard quotation form. However, if you plan to ship your goods internationally, you will receive a quote called proforma invoice. This is a very important document, thus, fill it in and do it accurately. Be sure that proforma invoice is very similar to commercial invoice and it cites the following:
• Who is the buyer?
• Who is the seller?
• A thorough description of the goods
• What is the final price?
• The method of delivery
• The final destination
• The currency used.
2. Commercial Invoice Document
After sending a proforma invoice, you can start preparing your goods for packing and shipping. You can pack by yourself, or hire a moving agency like Verrazano Moving and Storage Staten Island to help you out. However, besides preparing your goods, you must also prepare other pre-shipping documents too. One of them is the so-called commercial invoice. As previously mentioned, the commercial invoice is quite similar to the proforma invoice, but what differs is the need to include some additional details like banking information, marine insurance information, order number, and so on.
3. A Detailed Packing List
A packing list for your shipment must be filled out properly and thoroughly. You are now probably wondering why, isn’t that so? Firstly, this packing list is used for creating a bill of lading. Secondly, your bank will require it in order for you to effectively sell the goods abroad. And, thirdly, the customs officials need it when examining your shipment. If you have a detailed packing list, there will be fewer chances of customs officials opening and unwrapping your boxes.
When creating this packing list, be sure to also include all the dimensions as well as the net and gross weight. If there are any markings and signs on the packages, include them too. Moreover, if what you are shipping is fragile, identify it and add any possible instructions for its handling.
4. Certificate of Origin
Whether you will need a certificate of origin or not depends on the country you are shipping to. In most cases, the certificate of origin has to be signed by a Chamber of Commerce. And sometimes even by the country’s consulate office. Acquiring this sign and stamp for your certificate will cost you time and money, so be prepared. However, if you do not have time to wait, you can also try to get an electronic certificate of origin (eCO). It is quicker and as valid as the paper one.
5. Shipper's Letter of Instruction
When shippers are preparing all their pre-shipping paperwork, they usually forget about the shipper's letter of instruction. Or, in some cases, decide not to prepare it as it is not necessary for completing the shipment. But, be sure that this document must be given to your freight forwarder, as he or she will act on your behalf. Once you ship your goods, freight forwarders are the ones you will contact, and the ones who will take care of your shipment from start to finish. Thus, make sure to find a reliable freight forwarder company and protect both yourself and your firm with this shipper's letter of instruction.
6. Bills of Lading
Another very important document you need to prepare before you ship your goods is the so-called bill of lading. There are three types of it: ocean, inland, and the airway bill.
• Ocean Bill of Lading: If you decide to ship your goods via ocean, you must acquire an ocean bill of lading. This will be your contract, as well as the title for the cargo. There are two types of ocean bill of lading - the not negotiable or straight one and the negotiable one.
• Inland Bill of Lading: It serves as a contract between the person exporting the goods and the person shipping the goods. This document should also state the final destination of the goods, as well as serve as a receipt.
• Air Waybill: This is a contract between the shipper and the carrier, and it can not be negotiable - unlike the first two, which have that option.
7. Dangerous Goods Forms and Instructions
If some of the items you plan on shipping are considered hazardous, you might encounter some complications. In order to avoid them, hire a professional who has experience with shipping dangerous goods. He or she can help you fill out these forms correctly and include them in your shipment. However, you will also need to hire trained people to prepare, pack and label those hazardous items before they are shipped.
Last but not least, you will need to prepare the documentary collection. This documentary collection includes the very important bank draft and various other documents attached to it. The documentary collection will be sent by the seller's bank to the buyer's bank through the medium of the freight forwarding company. Sometimes, along with this documentary, a transmittal letter should also be included.
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