Export Documentation

Doing business across international borders requires more documentation than doing business across state borders.

But with some research and planning, you’ll be able to complete the documents required to sell your goods to foreign markets. Required export shipping documents vary depending on the country of destination, type of product, and payment methods, but expect that a certain amount of documentation will be standard in every transaction.

Country or region-specific documents can include CCC certification to sell goods in China or CE certification to sell goods in Europe. Product-specific documentation can include export licenses for military items or ingredient certifications for agricultural products. But expect that a lot of documentation will be standard in every transaction.

The most common exporting document is the commercial invoice. The commercial invoice requires a description of the products, the sales price, and the cost of insurance and freight. These details will be used to calculate import duties and taxes. There may be several other documents you will need to complete. Some of these include inspection or manufacturer’s certificates; certificates of origin; and documents specified in a letter of credit. Do your research to determine which documents are required for export and decide if you will complete them yourself or if you want to delegate this task to your freight forwarder.

You must retain export documents for five years. If your documents are not properly prepared, your shipments may not clear Indian or foreign customs and your payments under a letter of credit may be at risk. Your shipper or foreign partner may be knowledgeable on the export documentation needed for your product. Other resources include your local Commercial Service Office.

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