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It’s never been easier to sell and ship your products internationally. This offers a wide range of opportunities but also come with a set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges, particularly for novices, is the various forms and bureaucracy you have to deal with. Different international jurisdictions will have different regulatory requirements, and if you ship to a number of countries then you will need to keep abreast of any changes and developments. It can seem like an impossible task. It will certainly be time-consuming.

Freight forwarding services can take care of all the trade and transport documentation you need to ship overseas, allowing you the time to concentrate on your core business activities.

Trade Documentation

As well as there being specific paperwork required for particular products there is also a number of general types of international trade documentation which you may need for export purposes. These include:

Certificate of origin

A certificate of origin states where a product was manufactured, grown or processed. It’s frequently required for your goods to clear customs in their destination country. These are issued by your local Chamber of Commerce.

Commercial invoice

A commercial invoice gives customs authorities a range of information. This allows them to assess if the goods can move in or out of a country. In some cases, controls may be needed. The commercial invoice will also determine the level of duties and taxes that will be applied to the shipment. Every shipment is required to have its own commercial invoice.

Packing list

For a consignment to clear customs for entry into a new market it will require a packing list. This allows the customs officer to see what’s included in your shipment. They will use this information to determine if it can enter their jurisdiction.

UK export licence

The UK has special requirements for a range of controlled goods. These include medicines, plants, animal products and firearms. If you ship any of these items overseas then you will need an export licence. You can find out more about what products need an export licence on the government website.

Local regulations

Different jurisdictions will require different documentation. It’s therefore imperative that you find out what the local requirements are for the particular goods that you are shipping. You might for example need documentary proof that your goods meet local product standards. This is a key point and if your goods lack the appropriate local documentation your delivery will be delayed. In some circumstances, it may even mean that your shipment is refused entry and returned. This will, of course, lead to substantial extra cost and delays and can result in future lost orders.

Dangerous goods

Dangerous goods must be accompanied by appropriate special paperwork. Dangerous goods can contain a wide range of different products including explosive substances, flammable goods, toxic gases, organic peroxides, oxidising substances, radioactive and infectious materials. You can find out more about what kinds of goods are considered dangerous and what’s required if you intend to ship them at the government website.

Proof of insurance

You might need to insure the goods that are contained in your shipment. If that’s the case, you might also be required to provide proof of that insurance to your customer, particularly if you’re passing on the costs. You should then discuss what documentation is required with both your customer and your insurer.

Transport Documentation

Transport documentation is necessary for providing instructions about your consignment to the carrier, freight forwarder and receiving authority.

Export cargo shipping instruction

An export cargo shipping instruction gives the freight forwarder details of the goods and how they are to reach their destination. This is a crucial piece of information that the freight forwarding company requires to complete delivery.

Standard shipping note

A standard shipping note contains vital information and the goods and companies involved in sending, shipping and receiving them. If you’re shipping goods overseas then you must include a standard shipping note.

Bill of lading or a waybill

If your freight is travelling by sea it will require a Bill of Lading. If it’s travelling by air it will require a waybill. This acts as documentary evidence that your carrier has safely received the goods. You will need to keep these as evidence in case any problems arise with your shipment.

CIM consignment note

This gives details of the goods that are being transported. Any dangerous goods will also require a dangerous goods declaration.

Freight forwarders can take care of your documentation

A professional freight forwarding company can take care of the entire documentation process for you. This can save time and reduce the risk of inadvertently making a costly error. They will ensure that your shipment meets all of the latest regulatory and documentation requirements.

At SSO Logistics, we make the import and export process simple. To find out more about our services and how we can help call 01744 416 999 or email

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