Export documentation process is a long, arduous process, as it requires filling documents that are completely different from those present in the domestic trading process.
When you’re an export/import business, you should prepare yourself for the disappointment that comes from bearing a few losses, never quite having all the information, delays, and tedious detail-driven work.
It sounds difficult, doesn’t it? But, unfortunately, it needs to be done.
But it doesn’t have to be daunting if you wish it so. It’s why we are here–to help you and walk you through the steps of the export documentation process, with the hope that by the end of the article, you will have learned enough to continue with the process with relative ease.
But before we begin. Let us, first, look at why export documentation is such a big deal. Why is it important at all? When trading with another country, it is essential that you respect and follow their rules and regulations. So, when you have everything they ask for in order, it ensures that your business will continue uninterrupted.
You do not have to fear problems with your consignment, and your clients do not have to suffer. Moreover, following the export documentation process to the letter deems you as a trustworthy exporter who knows their way around the business. To others, it will look like you are an easy and honest person and someone they can count on to trade.
Now, let us look at all the steps that occur before the documentation process.
Letter of Inquiry
The export documentation process begins when someone makes inquiries about the purchase of your products. For this purpose, the buyer will send a letter of inquiry. In it, they will put down their terms of agreement along with the request for a quote.
Can You Do Business with Them?
After you get the inquiry, you need to screen your potential buyer to see if they are on any sort of denied or restricted party lists. You can either manually screen their name or company name.
Or you can automate the process and let the software handle the process. If a buyer does show up on the list, you cannot do business with them. The screening also tells if you can do business in that country. It also conveys if there are export licenses you have to apply to allow for this possibility.
Proforma Invoice and Finalisation
The seller gives a proforma invoice to the buyer once the screening process is over. It functions as a quote and is used by the seller to arrange the purchase.
After you send in the proforma invoice and the buyer accepts it, it will commence the verbal or written contract. It is the official contract that includes the price, duration, and other details of the trade.
Once everyone agrees to the agreement, the buyer will pass on the official purchase order.
Prepare your Goods and Shipping Documents
These documents include:
- Commercial Invoice: The first step to prepare your goods and shipping documents is to have the commercial invoice ready. You will need at least three copies of these as they have the crucial details about the buyer, seller, and the order. They also serve as proof of trade.
- Packing List: The packing list has information about the freight forwarder and carrier. It also has information about the shipment and the packing details. The packing list allows the customs authorities of the importing country to assess security and compliance. You will also need it as proof if you want to file a claim with the carrier or insurance company if there is cargo damage or loss.
- Certificate of Origin: The Certificate of Origin is documentary evidence that the goods originated from the country stated in the certificate, packing list, and commercial invoice. If there is an FTA between the importing and exporting country, your goods may qualify for reduced tariffs.
- Shipper’s Letter of Instruction: A Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) provides the client with a written record of who received the shipping documents, who to contact for questions, proof of export, export control information, etc.
- Bills of Lading: Depending on where you want to export to, you may need one or several Bills of Lading. To accompany the bills of lading, you might also need to fill out a dangerous goods form should your goods be dangerous.
Have a look at Export Documentation- A Complete Guide
Before you ship your goods, you need to run one last restricted party screening to ensure that neither your goods nor your client are not any list. If you use the right software, it will automatically get recorded, creating a paper trail to show that you did your due diligence.
There might be other specific documents you will have to fill before you export goods. These additional documents may include a bank draft or an ATA carnet.
While you complete your export documentation process, it also crucial that you keep copies of all your documents. It ensures that in the case of audit or miscommunication with the seller, you will have proof of all your actions. Keep all correspondence such as calls, text messages, and emails for this purpose, as well.
Once done filling all the documents and making copies of them for security, you should go ahead and check it again to ensure you got all the details correct. Should you make a mistake, the consequences can range from delayed goods to penalties, so be careful! Once you’ve gone through your work, the export documentation process is officially over. So, you can absolutely go ahead and ship your goods!
This article should have given you a basic understanding of the ins-and-outs of export documentation. To be successful at it, you will need a hardworking and dedicated associate to help manage your documentation. The Sarita Nimble is an export management software that can help you with your export documents from start to finish. To know more about our products and to get a free demo, contact us today @+91 9499652305 or email us at [email protected].