Frequent Asked Questions & Important Terms
Q. What export documents might be required during an
A. There are many documents involved in international shipments.
Following is a list of the common export documents and their
- Ocean Bill-of-Lading
- A receipt for the cargo and a contract for transportation
between a shipper and the ocean carrier. It may also be
used as an instrument of ownership which can be bought,
sold, or traded while the goods are in transit. To be
used in this manner, it must be a negotiable
"Order" Bill-of-Lading. This is sometimes
abbreviated as "Blading, or B/L"
- Clean Bill-of-Lading
- A clean Bill-of-lading is issued when the shipment is
received in good order. If damage or a shortage is noted,
a clean bill-of-lading will not be issued.
- On Board Bill-of-Lading
- An On Board Bill-of-Lading certifies that the cargo has
been placed aboard the named vessel and is signed by the
master of the vessel or his representative. On letter of
credit transactions, an On Board Bill-of-Lading is
usually necessary for the shipper to obtain payment from
- Ship's Manifest
- This document is prepared by the steamship line when all
Bills-of-Lading are processed. It summarizes all cargo
aboard the vessel by port of loading and discharge.
- Inland Bill-of-Lading
- An Inland Bill-of-Lading is used to document the
transportation of the goods between the port and the
point of origin or destination. It should contain
information such as marks, numbers, steamship line, etc.,
to match with a dock receipt. It is also known as a
waybill on rail or the "pro forma"
bill-of-lading in trucking. It can be abbreviated as
"pro" or "pro ticket", or
- Inspection Certificate
- Some countries nominate a firm to inspect for quality,
quantity, and pricing. After verifying correctness, they
may issue an Inspection Certificate or a "CRF",
a "Clean Report of Findings."
- Dock Receipt
- A dock receipt is used to transfer accountability for the
cargo between domestic and international carriers at the
ocean terminal. This document is prepared by the shipper
or forwarder, and is signed by the ocean carrier and
returned to the delivering inland carrier to acknowledge
receipt of the cargo.
- Delivery Instructions
- Delivery Instructions provide specific information to the
inland carrier concerning the arrangement made by the
forwarder to deliver the merchandise to the particular
pier or steamship line. This has to do with the export of
cargo and should not be confused with a Delivery Order
which is used for import cargo.
- Export Declaration
- Required by the United States Department of Commerce to
control exports and act as a source document for export
statistics, an Export Declaration includes complete
particulars on the shipment. It is commonly abbreviated
as "Export Dec".
- Letter of Credit
- A letter of credit is a financial document issued by a
bank at the request of the consignee guaranteeing payment
to the shipper for cargo if certain terms and conditions
are fulfilled. Normally it contains a brief description
of the goods, documents required, a shipping date, and an
expiration date after which payment will no longer be
- Consular Invoice
- A Consular Invoice or Customs Invoice is a special form
required by some countries to control and identify goods
shipped, and may require legalization by their Consul.
- Commercial Invoice
- A Commercial Invoice is a bill for the goods from the
seller to the buyer. It is often used by governments to
determine the true value of goods for the assessment of
Customs duties. It is also used in the preparation of
consular documentation. Governments using the commercial
invoice to control imports often specify its form,
content, number of copies, language to be used, etc.
- Certificate of Origin
- A Certificate of Origin is a document which is used to
assure the buying country precisely in which country the
goods were produced. The certification of the origin of
the merchandise is usually performed by a recognized
Chamber of Commerce.
- Insurance Certification
- An insurance certification assures the consignee that
insurance is provided to cover loss or damage to the
cargo while in transit.
- Transmittal Letter
- A Transmittal Letter is a list of the particulars of the
shipment and a record of the documents being transmitted
together with instructions for disposition of the
documents. Any special instructions are also included.
Q. What import documents might be required in an
A. There are a number of import documents that may be involved in
an international move. Following is a list of common import
documents with definitions.
- Arrival Notice
- Sent by the carrier, the Arrival Notice informs the
"notify party" of the estimated arrival date of
the vessel, identifies the shipment with some details,
such as number of packages, weight, etc., and indicates
when free time expires. Often the Arrival Notice is also
a freight bill.
- Customs Entries
- A form required by United States Customs for entering
goods into the United States. The form contains
information as to the origin of the cargo, a description
of the merchandises and estimated duties applicable to
the particular commodity. Estimated duties must be paid
when the entry is filed.
- I.D. Entry
- A set of documents and forms which, when presented to
U.S. Customs in proper form, will release the cargo.
Within 10 days after release of the cargo a set of
documents and forms known as the Entry Summary, which
contains the tariff schedule numbers and duty
calculation, must be filed, accompaniied by the duty
- Entry Summary
- A combination of the Entry and the Entry Summary this is
a set of documents and forms required by U.S. Customs for
certain "trade sensitive" imports, such as
textiles and any other quota merchandise. Payment of
duties must accompany submission of documents.
- Delivery Authorized Document (DAD)
- A form prepared by the Customs Broker and authorized by
U.S. Customs after presentation and approval of Entry or
Entry Summary, and lodged with the carrier as evidence of
- Immediate Transportation Entry (I.T. Entry)
- Allows the cargo to be moved from the pier to an inland
destination via a bonded carrier without the payment of
duties or finalization of the entry at the port of
- Transportation and Exportation Entry and Immediate Export
Entry (T.&E. or I.E. Entry)
- Allows goods to enter the U.S. for the purpose of
trans-shipments to a third country
- Carriers Certificate and Release Order
- Used to advise Customs of the details of the shipment,
its ownership, port of lading, etc. By means of this
document the carrier certifies that the firm or
individual named in the certificate is the owner or consignee of the cargo. This is commonly known as the
- Delivery Order
- Issued by the consignee or his Customs Broker to the
ocean carrier as authority to release the cargo to the
inland carrier. Includes all data necessary for the pier
delivery clerk to determine that the cargo can be
released to the domestic carrier.
- Freight Release or Freight Bill Receipt
- Evidence that the freight charges for the cargo have been
paid. If in writing, it may be presented a the pier to
obtain release of the cargo. Normally, once the freight
is paid, releases are usually arranged without additional