Export and Import Expertise

1324 E 2nd St.
Muscatine, IA, 52761, USA
2765 Boulevard du mono 06 BP: 62048
Lome, Togo, Africa
+228 90 155 155

Mon – Sat: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm

International Shipping Documents

Jun 28, 2022Introduction to Trade

Shipping Documents For Importing In The US

International shipping can be a complex process, with various rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure a smooth transaction. One important aspect of this process is the preparation and presentation of accurate and up-to-date shipping documents. These documents play a crucial role in ensuring that your shipment arrives at its destination without any delays or issues.

Important Shipping Documents

Commercial Invoice

International shipping can be a complex process, with many different documents required at various stages. One of the most important documents is the commercial invoice. A commercial invoice, also known as a CI, is a document that provides detailed information about a transaction involving the export or import of goods. It is similar to a standard invoice, but includes additional information about all parties involved in the transaction, such as the importer, exporter, freight forwarder, banks, shipping lines, and others. The commercial invoice is essential for customs clearance of the goods and can also be used for supply chain finance solutions introduced by banks and other finance companies to make global trade more seamless and profitable.

Bill of Lading

If you’re shipping goods internationally, you’ll need a Bill of Lading (BL). A BL is a legal document that serves as a contract between the shipper and the freight carrier. It also lists the destination, what’s being shipped, and handling details. The carrier must sign the BL to confirm receipt of the shipment.

There are two types of BLs: negotiable and non-negotiable. A negotiable BL can be transferred to a third party, while a non-negotiable BL can only be signed by the parties listed on the document.

Other types of Bills of Lading

Inland BOL: If you’re shipping goods domestically, you’ll need an inland bill of lading (BOL). This document is a contract between you and the transportation company, and it outlines various clauses related to overland transportation of goods. The BOL can also be used as the carrier’s receipt to the shipper, and it serves as the carriage contract. Make sure that your BOL includes detailed information about the goods being transported.

Air waybill : When shipping goods internationally, an air waybill (AWB) must be sent out with the shipment. The AWB provides detailed information about the shipment, including the consignment number which can be used to track the shipment.

Ocean Bill Of Lading: One of these is the ocean bill of lading (BOL). The BOL serves as both a contract for carriage and a document of title for the cargo. It will include information on the parties involved in the transaction, as well as a description of the goods and routing instructions.

Packaging List

Having a packaging list is important because it prevents shipping the wrong cargo across international borders. All parties involved in the shipping process can refer to the list to avoid mistakes or confusion. The list must be attached at a visible spot of the container for easy access and retrieval by officials.

A packaging list is a crucial shipping paper that lists the goods in detail. The form mentions the cargo’s weight and size, as well as any necessary safety precautions. The shipping company may utilize it to generate the BOL, while banks may request it as a payment document under a Letter of Credit (LC). Freight forwarders make use of the listing to clear goods for inspection. It can also be used to resolve disputes between shippers and carriers

Certificate Of Origin

If you’re involved in international trade, then you know that a Certificate of Origin (COO) is an essential document. This document declares the country of origin for the manufactured goods and is usually certified by the consulate or the chamber of commerce.

Why is the COO so important? Because it establishes that all trade agreement rules have been complied with and determines the duty rate and whether the goods meet all legal obligations of import and export. In other words, it’s vital for ensuring that your goods are eligible for export.

As the exporter, it’s your responsibility to provide the COO based on the rules and regulations of the destination country. So if you’re planning to ship goods internationally, make sure you have everything

Shipper’s Letter Of Instructions (SLI)

A Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) is a document that provides instructions to the freight forwarder on how to handle an export shipment. The letter grants permission to the forwarder to act as an authorized agent for US export control and customs. The SLI is a vital document that helps ensure smooth communication between all parties involved in the shipping process and avoid any potential misunderstandings that could lead to financial loss.

Letter Of Credit

A letter of credit (LC) is a document that guarantees payment on goods sold from a seller to a buyer. If the buyer is unable to pay for any reason, then the bank takes responsibility to pay the amount and close the transaction. This type of financial guarantee offers the assurance of a guaranteed economic transaction in the complex field of international trade where different rules and regulations exist among various countries.

International trade can be complex, with different rules and regulations for shipping goods to various countries. A Letter of Credit (LC) guarantees payment for goods sold from a seller to a buyer, ensuring a successful transaction.

Customs Bond

If you’re shipping goods into the United States, you’ll need to purchase a customs bond. This document is similar to an insurance policy, as it guarantees payment of all duties and fees related to your shipment. The customs bond ensures that the US government will be paid all corresponding fees for your shipment, and the surety company that issues the bond will be responsible for making payment if you default on your obligations.

Customs bonds only cover US customs taxes and duties – they do not cover the value of the goods being imported. However, almost all commercial imports into the US require a bond, which can help speed up clearance at customs and reduce paperwork.

Insurance Certificate

International shipping exposes businesses to many risks. The most common way to protect against these risks is through insurance. An insurance certificate is a document provided by an insurance company that verifies that the business has purchased an insurance policy for their shipment. This policy provides coverage in the event of damage or loss to the goods being shipped.

Having an insurance policy in place gives businesses the peace of mind knowing that they are financially protected against any potential losses.

Other documents required for International Freight Shipping

Import License

An import license is a document issued by the government that certifies a business or individual can ship particular commodities to specific countries. Keep reading to learn more about the other documents required for international freight shipping.

Power Of Attorney

Power of Attorney (POA) may be needed in order to appoint an agent, such as a customs broker or freight forwarder. This document assigns legal powers to the individual and gives them the authority to handle various aspects of the shipment on behalf of the importer or exporter.

Fumigation Certificate

If you’re shipping cargo internationally, you’ll need to make sure that your wooden packaging materials have been treated with fumigation. This process uses chemicals to kill pests and can help prevent the spread of disease. A fumigation certificate is a document that confirms that your shipment has been treated properly. It will include details on the type of fumigant used, temperature, and other important information. Make sure you get a certified copy of this document before shipping your cargo.

Inspection Certificate

This document certifies that the goods have been inspected and conform to the terms of the contract. Without an inspection certificate, your shipment could be delayed or even rejected.

Dangerous Goods Note

This document provides detailed information about the contents of your consignment to everyone who needs to know, including carriers, receiving authorities, and forwarders. It’s a mandatory part of any consignment containing hazardous goods.

Importer Security Filing

An Importer Security Filing (ISF) is required by the CBP in order to document importing information. This includes vital details such as the departure of the shipment to the US, which must be submitted at least 24 hours in advance. If an ISF is not filed correctly, importers may be subject to a penalty.


When shipping internationally, businesses need to be aware of the various documents required in order to clear customs. These documents include a customs bond, insurance certificate, and import license. Failure to provide these documents can result in delays or even rejection of the shipment. Businesses should work with a freight forwarder or customs broker to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order before shipping their cargo.


Latest News


1324 E 2nd St, Muscatine, IA 52761

(563) 277-8002

Looking for an export or import solution?

We can help!

Partnership Opportunities

Collobrate with us as a Operational Partner, Leadership Partner or Financial Partner

We are proud to work with corporations, foundations, governments and the media from around the world to support our work.  Partners help deepen our impact and expand the breadth of our work.  We help our customers to build new businesses and find solutions to global challenges through trade.  Partnering with us allows you to create sustainable business opportunities and get involved in international innovation networks.

Have an Idea?

Reach out today!


1324 E 2nd St, Muscatine, IA 52761

(563) 277-8002

Looking for an export or import solution?

We can help!

Looking to invest worldwide?Let us help you find opportunities!
Follow by Email


Click one of our representatives below to chat on WhatsApp or send us an email to [email protected]

× Connect on WhatsApp