Shipping Documentation Requirements
Exporters and importers should seriously consider having OceanAiR Logistics
handle the documentation required, since our Transportation Specialists are
highly knowledgeable in export and import regulations & procedures. The
following documents are commonly used in exporting and importing goods.
However, the specific documentation necessary in a particular transaction
depends on the requirements of the U.S. government and the government of the
- Air freight shipments are handled by Air Waybills (AWB) which is a
contract between the shipper and airline that states the terms and
conditions of air transportation and can never be made in negotiable form.
See sample Airway Bill**.
- Ocean Bill of Lading (B/L) is a receipt for cargo in transit, and a
contract between the exporter and an ocean carrier for transportation and
delivery of goods to a specified party at a specified foreign destination.
The Ocean Bill of Lading is Issued after the vessel has sailed and the cargo
has been entered in the ship's manifest.
See sample Ocean Bill of Lading**.
- Commercial Invoice is 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.
See sample Commercial Invoice**.
- Consular Invoice is a document that is required in some countries. It
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 stationed here, it is used by the country's customs
officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment.
- Certificate of Origin is a document that is required in certain nations.
It is a signed statement as to the origin of the export item. Certificate of
origin are usually signed through a semiofficial organization, such as a
local chamber of commerce. A certificate may still be required even if the
commercial invoice contains the information.
See sample Certificate of Origin**.
- NAFTA Certificate of Origin is required for products traded among the
NAFTA countries (Canada, the United States, and Mexico). The NAFTA
Certificate of Origin is used by Canada, Mexico, and the United States,
including Puerto Rico, to determine if goods imported into their countries
receive reduced or eliminated duty as specified by the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For those forms that are completed online, this
application is designed for goods whose origin is the U.S. or Puerto Rico
only. The NAFTA Certificate of Origin must be attached to an Invoice if the
shipment is valued at greater than the following:
- a) $1,000 USD and is being sent to a Mexican destination from Canada or the U.S.
- b) $1,600 (Canadian dollars) and is being sent to a Canadian destination from Mexico or the U.S.
- c) $2,500 USD and is being sent to a U.S. destination from Canada or Mexico.
See sample NAFTA Certificate of Origin**.
Shipments valued at less than the above amounts do not require a NAFTA
Certificate of Origin. Instead, the customer should type the following
statement on the shipment's invoice: "I hereby certify that the goods covered
by this shipment qualifies as an originating good for purposes of
preferential tariff treatment under the NAFTA."
For purposes of obtaining preferential tariff treatment, the NAFTA
Certificate of Origin must be completed legibly and in full by the exporter
and be in the possession of the importer at the time the declaration is
made. This document may also be completed voluntarily by the producer for
use by the exporter.
- 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
- Dock Receipt and Warehouse Receipt are used to transfer accountability
when the export item is moved by the domestic carrier to the port of
embarkation or warehouse and left with the ship line or forwarding agent for
export. All Dock Receipts and Warehouse Receipts are issue by OceanAiR
Logistics eTraffic System and automatically sent to the client, shipper
- 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.
- VGM - Effective July 1st, 2016 - New requirements to verify the gross mass of a packed container will be required, as
per The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). In order to comply with
the new regulations, shippers will be responsible for certifying the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of all containers, prior
to their loading on board vessels. The VGM includes the mass of all packages and cargo items, pallets, dunnage and
other packing and securing material inside the container, as well as the tare weight, which appears on the door of the container.
See Sample VGM**.
- Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is a commercial trade processing system
designed to automate border processing, enhance border security, and foster U.S. economic
security through lawful international trade and travel. ACE is part of a multi-year U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modernization effort. ACE will: allow trade participants
access to and management of their trade information via reports; expedite legitimate trade by
providing CBP with tools to efficiently process imports/exports and move goods quickly across
the border; improve communication, collaboration and compliance efforts between CBP and the
trade community; facilitate efficient collection, processing and analysis of commercial import
and export data; and provide an information-sharing platform for trade data throughout government agencies.
See additional information at the ACE/AES Guide**.
- ISF 10+2 - U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Importer’s Security Filing (ISF) 10+2 is a federal
regulation that requires importers to electronically provide data to U.S. Customs on vessels destined to the U.S., before
vessel departure from origin. IMPORTANT: It applies to only sea freight shipments. Any ocean freight cargo shipped
to the U.S. without a timely/accurate ISF may result in a Customs penalty of USD $5,000 to the Importer. Importers are responsible
for the 10 elements which can be found on the attached form
U.S. Customs ISF 10+2 Data Sheet. (MS Excel format)
- Shipper's Letter of Instructions is the shipping instructions to the
forwarder or carrier from the shipper or exporter.
See sample Shipper’s Letter of Instructions**.
- An Export License is a government document that authorizes the export of
specific goods in specific quantities to a particular destination. This
document may be required for most or all exports to some countries or for
other countries only under special circumstances.
- A Packing List itemizes the material in each individual package and
indicates the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton. It also shows the individual net, legal, tare, and gross weights and
measurements for each package (in both U.S. and metric systems). Package
markings should be shown along with the shipper's and buyer's references.
The list is used by the shipper or forwarding agent to determine the total
shipment weight and volume and whether the correct cargo is being shipped.
In addition, U.S. and foreign customs officials may use the list to check
See sample Packing List**.
- A Cargo Insurance Certificate is used to assure the consignee that
insurance will cover the loss of or damage to the cargo during transit.
Contact our Transportation Specialist for insurance coverage, limitations
Documentation must be precise, because slight discrepancies or omissions may
prevent merchandise from being exported, result in nonpayment, or even
result in the seizure of the exporter's goods by U.S. or foreign government
Customs. Collection or proper documents are subject to precise time limits
and may not be honored by a bank if the time has expired. Most export and
import documentation is routine for OceanAiR Logistics Transportation
Specialist. The exporter or importer of record is ultimately responsible for
the accuracy of the documents it they provide.
The number and kind of documents the exporter must deal with varies
depending on the origin & destination of the shipment and description of the
goods. Because each country has different import regulations, the exporter
or importer must be careful to provide all proper documentation. For
additional documentation requirements or information pertaining to foreign
or domestic, export or import restrictions, please contact our
Transportation Specialist or the following organizations:
- a) Export Assistance Centers (see http://www.doc.gov)
- b) The Trade Information Center (1-800-USA-TRADE)
** Click to download and save on your computer. PDF format. Adobe Acrobat viewer required for viewing.