Whilst we have previously looked at some of the top tips and common pitfalls of shipping overseas , this was a brief glance at what can sometimes be a complicated process. If you are new to shipping across the world then you may feel yourself confused at exactly what needs to be done and when.

However, this need not be the case; this blog post is going to delve a little deeper into one of the key aspects of international shipping namely those pesky forms!

As much as they can cause a headache, documentation is required by Governments around the world in order to monitor international shipments as well as regulate the movement of a selection of goods across borders and barriers. These factors are the reason why you need to ensure that the documentation that you provide is not only completed in its entirety but is also clear and accurate; otherwise you may find your item faced with some lengthy delays and maybe additional costs to you.

There are two main documents that will need to be completed when it comes to shipping internationally; Commercial Invoices and Certificates of Origin.

Commercial invoices is possibly the most commonly used documents when shipping outside your own country and incorrectly, or insufficiently completed customs documentation is the most common cause for delays in shipment around the world.

You may find it daunting completing this type of paperwork for the first time, however with a little guidance it doesn’t need to be as hard as it first appears. There are two main areas that you need to pay special attention to when completing this form:

  • Description of goods
  • Goods Valuation

You will need to ensure that you are accurate in the information that you are providing as well as stating everything possible about what it is that you are shipping and clearly stating why you are exporting that item.

If you are shipping samples, gifts or your own possessions then you can use a Pro forma Invoice instead of a Commercial Invoice. You will need to remember that in order to use this type of invoice that the value of the item does not exceed the lower value limit imposed by the country that you are shipping to. If this is not the case an you use the Pro Forma Invoice then you may find that the recipient will be asked to pay Customs duties before they can receive the item.

When completing the Pro forma Invoice you will need to include the same information that you would on a Commercial Invoice as well as that the item is sample/gift or possession and the exact value (this even applies for documents which may have a nominal valuation). You should also state why you are shipping the item on the invoice too.

By ensuring that you complete the above forms correctly and accurately you should find little to no delay in the shipment of your item. Whilst it may seem an irritation when you are keen to send something out, taking the time out to complete this is vital in the whole process.

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