Documents Required for Import&Export Customs Clearance

When importing goods, what must be included in customs documentation? Import documents offer information to all parties involved in international trade and guarantee that products make a smooth transition into a country.

In another article, we discussed how much customs clearance fees are and how to pay them. Remember that proper documentation is essential to the import customs clearance process. This post will mention all the international customs documents you must submit to customs officials.

Purchase Order Contract

Purchase Order Contract

One of the important documents to present in your customs clearance is the purchase order contract between the seller and the buyer. It’s essential to remember that this is legally binding after the supplier or vendor has approved it.

That safeguards against cases where the supplier might not have the goods asked for. Make sure you have this document at all costs.

Commercial Invoice

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice must present sufficient information for Customs and Border Protection. This will identify whether the multiple shipments being imported are allowable. Remember that the commercial invoice is utilized for foreign trade.

Also, calculated tariffs are the sole purpose of your commercial invoice. The commercial invoice is also important as it enables the clearance of the commodities at their port of entry. It contains all the essential details about your FDA-regulated package and must provide the following information:

·        The address where the shipments are being shipped to

·        Business’s name and address

·        Company’s location or the merchandise’s seller

·        Business’s name or the person selling the merchandise

·        When it was bought

·        Country of origin

·        Commercial Value

·        The quantity of the items

·        Clearly describes the items

The significance of the commercial invoice when importing goods is that it enables the commodities clearance at the port of entry. Moreover, the commercial invoice should be filled out in English (this is a requirement in customs).

Packing List

Packing List

On top of the customs clearance documents provided, you also need a packing list. This list is provided by the shipper or the freight forwarder company. Your packing list must include all the information from your commercial invoice and might be checked by Customs Border Protection to confirm the cargo units.

Note that the commercial invoice and your pacing lists should go together and detail any pertinent details in the customs clearance process.

Transport Documents

Transport Documents

These are the customs transit documents needed when transporting your shipment. This may differ based on the mode of transportation you utilize.

Air waybill

Also referred to as an air consignment note, an air waybill is a kind of Bill of Lading, but it accompanies shipments shipped through air freight and enables tracking. This particular customs clearance document is legally binding and acts as a receipt of goods by the carrier.

It also acts as carriage contact between the carrier and shipper. Remember that an airway bill is a standard IATA (International Air Transport Association) form.

Bill of lading

The Bill of Lading is another commercial document issued by the carrier to the good’s shipper. It is signed by the vessel’s owner or the agent that submits the written documentation in connection to the receipt of the regulated commodities.

The Bill of Lading is also vital paperwork that guarantees the exporter gets the money and importers get their shipments.

Rail waybill

Rail waybill has the basic information that covers the transportation of goods by rail. This is also considered as the rail transport contract.

Road waybill

In case you didn’t know yet, a rail waybill has all the detailed information about the international transportation of goods by setting. This document was issued by the Convention for the Contract of the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

Also, the document allows the consigner to have the shipments at their disposal throughout the entire transportation process.

Express waybill (DHL/UPS/FEDEX)

An express waybill is a kind of bill of lading where the carrier is required to offer the goods to the named consignee, and no original bills of lading are delivered.

Freight Insurance or Cargo Insurance Certificate

Freight Insurance or Cargo Insurance Certificate

Did you know that insurance is essential for smoothly transporting your shipments? There is a substantial potential for things going wrong throughout the goods’ handling, storage, loading, and transporting.

You will also find other risks to bear in mind, like terrorism, strikes, and even riots. Fortunately, you only need the insurance invoice for the customs clearance when the applicable information is not already provided in the commercial invoice.

Customs Value Declaration

Customs Value Declaration

If importing goods exceeds 20,000 euros, you should provide a customs value. That needed document is essential to evaluate the transaction’s value to fix the customs value to apply the tariff duties. Click here to check the customs declaration value and how to calculate it.

On top of that, the customs value is the overall value of the shipments. That also includes the costs incurred until the first entry into the EU. Supposedly the customs value takes into account the insurance, transport, and commercial price.

In that case, you can utilize the transaction value to work out the value of your custom. That simple.

Import or export license

Did you know that there are export and import controls on different goods? That only indicates you might require a license. You will find controls on exports such as:

·        Chemicals and medicines

·        Animals and plants

·        Artworks

·        Technology

·        Paramilitary or military goods

Meanwhile, you will find controls on imports, which includes:

·        Chemicals

·        Textiles

·        Medicines

·        Foods

·        Animals and plants

·        Firearms

The possible usage of the item and where you are importing it from or exporting it to will identify the license requirements.

Certificate of origin

The certificate of origin (COO) declares the country where the shipment was manufactured or created. It has all the details on the destination, product details, and export country.

According to government policies, unilateral and bilateral business agreements between nations might exempt the import duty on particular goods. Applicable duties might be imposed based on the goods’ consumption and local availability. Therefore, certifying the origin of shipments plays a critical role in international transport and trade between countries.

Product test report or certificate

 This certification confirms the shipment has passed performance and qualified assurance tests. It also proves the qualification criteria stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications.

Other Documents Depend on Different Country Customs Detail Requirements

Other Documents Depend on Different Country Customs Detail Requirements

There are other documents you need to have a smooth customs clearance process, but these documents may vary on the country’s specific customs department. Here are some of them:

Arrival notice

An arrival notice is a statement arranged by your customs broker to inform the recipient that the goods have arrived or when it’s scheduled to do so.

It normally has all the descriptions of the commodities, details about the total amount of cargo units that were entered, and other costs that should be paid upon collection. Moreover, the notice will help owners hurry up the entire cargo and customs clearance process.

Delivery order  

A delivery order is the document issued by freight forwarders, carriers, consignees, or shippers once your shipments are released from the CBP. It orders the release of cargo transportation to another party. Remember that this document should be separated from the Bill of Lading.

That also indicates it doesn’t replace proof of the delivery of shipments. Alternatively, a delivery order should be submitted to the trucker for them to pick up the freight from the CFS.

In other words, these international customs documents issued culminate the entire shipping cycle where the carrier and shipment part ways.

ISF 10 + 2 form

The 10+2 rule strives to screen those high-risk shipments before arriving in the United States. It safeguards the region from any acts of terrorism or illegal acts. It also determines players within the supply chain.

This form should be filed with the CPB twenty-four hours before the ship sails from the last port of origin to the United States. Not all freight forwarders give this form, but others do and present in it the needed information.

That enables simpler filing by importing. This document also widens the scope of responsibility of the importer for any questionable shipments. But it also reduces examination for those low-risk goods.

ATA carnet

These customs documents issued by the Chambers of Commerce allow the temporary importation of shipments free of customs taxes and duties. Remember that ATA carnets could be issued for professional equipment, trade fairs, and even exhibitions.


All the necessary documents work hand-in-hand to provide vital details throughout the entire customs clearance process.

It’s essential that you complete all these customs clearance documents to prevent delays in customs clearance. Always incorporate this into your standard business practice. Importing goods is crucial to maintaining a smooth supply chain between nations.

You need the entire customs clearance to be as flawless as possible to guarantee the transactions are ethical and legal. It’s also crucial to ensure you complete all the import requirements accurately, as failure could impact you and the entire customs clearance process.

We hope you find this guide informative and useful at the same time. If you’re looking for an unswerving freight forwarder who can guide you with all the documents needed for import customs clearance and shipping from China to overseas, DFH can help.

Call us today to get started!


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