COLOR CODE FOR EXPORT DOCUMENTS
Green – shipping documents to be sent to buyer Orange – documents for U.S. internal control/use
RECEIPT OF ORDER
Process order immediately and pass to production.
Verify that details of order sent to production are correct.
OBTAIN EXPORT LICENSE (If Required)
On-line application with the Simplified Network Application Process (SNAP) is fast and simple.
If application submitted by mail, special care needed in completing form to avoid delays in processing. Use a reliable
express-mail delivery service.
PROCESS AND FORWARD ORDER TO PRODUCTION
Export and production personnel must be in close contact.
Problems in production will affect delivery schedule.
PREPARE & SEND PRO FORMA INVOICE TO BUYER
Send to buyer as soon as possible to confirm terms of sale and to enable buyer to apply for Letter of Credit (when required).
Avoid errors. This will be most problematic when payment is by Letter of Credit.
OBTAIN COPY OF LETTER OF CREDIT (issued by buyer’s bankers, where applicable)
For payment by Letter of Credit (LC), be sure to obtain copy of same for verification in accordance with your terms of sale.
When dealing with unscrupulous buyers, the smallest error in export documentation can result in non-payment under the
terms of the LC.
RESERVE SPACE ON AIRLINE AND/OR BOOK CONTAINER(S) ON SHIPPING VESSEL(S)
Maintain an up-to-date shipping schedule (info obtained from shipping companies, shipping agents or your freight
forwarder). This information, at your fingertips, is valuable for responding to buyers’ queries regarding shipment(s).
Be sure to obtain a booking number or written confirmation of booking. Your goods can be left behind at the airport or port if
you fail to make advance bookings for space and/or containers.
WHEN GOODS ARE READY FOR SHIPMENT
Inspection and Fumigation Certificates
If requested by buyer, arrange for quality inspection of goods and/or fumigation by certified companies. Be sure to obtain number
of copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Check documents for accuracy.
Prepare Packing List from information obtained from your packing team. Accuracy is paramount to avoid future claims from buyer.
Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)
This document is for US control only and is filed electronically using the Automated Export System (AES).
Verify with your packing department that goods are packed and labeled according to buyer’s instructions.
Goods not carefully packed may be damaged in shipment. Incorrect and/or incomplete labels can cause delays in clearing
customs at home and abroad.
Avoid penalties for late filing of SED, as determined by AES mode of transport.
ARRANGE INLAND TRANSPORT TO AIRPORT/PORT
Issued by a transport insurance company of your choice to cover movement of goods from your factory to destination. Some buyers take care of their insurance coverage, usually from delivery on-board to their premises. Be sure to obtain the number of
copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Check for accuracy.
Issued by inland transport company for your records.
Prepared by your freight forwarder for presentation at airport/port terminal. Signed copy received by inland carrier upon delivery of
Goods do sometimes get lost, stolen or damaged in transit. Don’t try to save on insurance costs.
Verify that the booking number matches with the container number when loading more than one container for different buyers.
OTHER SHIPPING DOCUMENTS
Prepare number of copies requested by buyer plus copies needed for your business records. Remember to add Destination Control Statement for shipments under an export license plus the export license number.
Issued by airline. Separate correct copies for buyer and for your records.
Ocean Bill of Lading
Issued by ocean carrier. Separate correct copies for buyer and for your records.
Certificate of Origin
Prepared in-house or by your freight forwarder, if requested by buyer. To be notarized and attested by your local Chamber of
NAFTA Certificate of Origin
Only required for products, exported to Canada or Mexico, covered under the preferred tariff treatment. Prepared in-house or by
your freight forwarder. To be signed and dated by you, the producer of the goods.
An exporters’ software program or templates reduce time and error for in-house preparation of shipping documents.
All documents, including those prepared by third parties, must be carefully checked for accuracy. A single error or missing
information of extreme importance on a shipping document can cause delays and added expense in customs clearance at
origin and destination. Faulty documents can also cause delays in receipt of payment.
PRESENTATION OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS TO BANKERS
Original documents to be presented to your bankers for remittance to buyer’s bankers in accordance with Letter of Credit or other
When original documents are mailed directly to buyer, address for remittance may not be the same as the buyer’s company
address. An incorrect address may cause delay in clearance of goods at the port/airport.
TRANSMIT SHIPPING ADVICE
An excellent customer-service practice. The shipping advice – sent by e-mail or fax to the buyer together with copies of
invoice, packing list, and non-negotiable air waybill or bill of lading – is of vital importance to your client. With this information,
your client can track the shipment and initiate the import process for speedy release on arrival of goods at port/airport.
FILE SHIPPING DOCUMENTS
If you maintain paper files, immediately file shipping documents for each shipment by buyer to avoid pile-up and/or
misplacement of an important document, and for easy access for handling queries from buyers.
Retain documents for five (5) years from shipping date for government inspection.
An excellent customer-service practice. Vessels do sometimes breakdown or divert course because of storms and leave
your goods in another port.
Be extra careful when there is transshipment. Your shipment can be left at the port of transshipment for a number of reasons.
CONFIRMATION OF RECEIPT OF GOODS
An excellent customer-service practice. Request confirmation of receipt of goods from buyer.
RECEIPT OF PAYMENT
It is absolutely essential that you have a control of your foreign payment due dates and accounts receivables.