The following documents are commonly used in exporting; but which of them are necessary in a particular transaction depends on the requirements of the U.S. government and the government of the importing country.
Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED or form 7525-V) The SED is available through the Government Printing Office and a number of other commercial outlets. It can be electronically filed using AESDirect.
A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is needed for shipments to Mexico and Canada. This tool can help you through the process of filing this certification.
CE Mark requirements must be met to market goods in the European Union. Once a manufacturer has earned a CE mark for its product, it may affix the CE Mark to its product, and then the product may be marketed thoughout the EU without having to undergo further modifications in each EU member country.
Export license – a U.S. Government document required for “dual use” exports (commercial items which could have military applications), or exports to embargoed countries. Most export transactions do not require specific approval from the U.S. Government. Before shipping your product, make sure you understand the concept of dual use and the basic export control regulations.
Commercial invoice – a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties. Governments that use the commercial invoice to control imports will often specify its form, content, number of copies, language to be used, and other characteristics.
Certificate of origin – The Certificate of Origin is only required by some countries. In many cases, a statement of origin printed on company letterhead will suffice. Special certificates are needed for countries with which the United States has special trade agreements, such as Mexico, Canada and Israel. More information about filling out these special certificates is available from the TIC.
Bill of lading is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier (as with domestic shipments). For vessels, there are two types: a straight bill of lading which is non-negotiable 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 as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.
Insurance certificate – is used to assure the consignee that insurance will cover the loss of or damage to the cargo during transit. These can be obtained from your freight forwarder.
Export packing list – considerably more detailed and informative than a standard domestic packing list, it itemizes the material in each individual package and indicates the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton. Both commercial stationers and freight forwarders carry packing list forms.
Import License – Import licenses are the responsibility of the importer. Including a copy with the rest of your documentation, however, can sometimes help avoid problems with customs in the destination country.
Consular invoice – Required in some countries, it describes the shipment of goods and shows information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment. If required, copies are available from the destination country’s Embassy or Consulate in the U.S.
Air way bills – Air freight shipments are handled by air waybills, which can never be made in negotiable form.
Inspection certification is required by some purchasers and countries in order to attest to the specifications of the goods shipped. This is usually performed by a third party and often obtained from independent testing organizations.
A dock receipt and a warehouse receipt are used to transfer accountability when the export item is moved by the domestic carrier to the port of embarkation and left with the ship line for export.
A destination control statement appears on the commercial invoice, and ocean or air waybill of lading to notify the carrier and all foreign parties that the item can be exported only to certain destinations.