Export Documentation

Export Documentation

Below are some of the common documents used in export and import business. Depending on your country and the country you’ll be exporting/importing; different sets of documents may be required for different kinds of goods, hence it’s important for you to verify and prepare the necessary details beforehand to avoid delays.

Commercial Invoice

One of the most basic documentation, commercial invoice is a bill for the goods to the seller, which include the necessary information such as transactions and order numbers, description of the goods, sender’s and receiver’s addresses, and payment terms. The invoice is needed by the buyer to prove ownership of the goods and to arrange payments necessary.

Click here to look for sample of commercial invoice.

Payment terms also depends on the Incoterms used for the transaction. Click picture to know more about Incoterms

Bill of Lading

These are contracts between the owner of the goods and the carrier and can be in two types: straight bill of lading has non-negotiable terms while the non-negotiable ones can be used in letter of credit (LOC) transactions while the goods may still in transit. Click here to view sample.

Consular Invoice

Certain country requires this type of document to control and identify the goods. This document can be obtained by the consulate of the country that you want to ship the goods and must be prepared in the national language of that country.

Certificate of Origin

May be required by certain countries, certificate of origin is a signed statement to declare the origin of the goods, usually can be obtained by semi-official organizations. Click here for sample.

Inspection Certification

This document is used to attest to the specification of the products and usually conducted by the third party.

Dock and Warehouse Receipts

Formal receipts used to transfer accountability when the export goods moved by the local freight forwarders to the port for international carrier.

Destination Control Statement

A statement to notify the carrier and all foreign parties that the items are only intended to be exported for specified destination. Usually appears alongside in commercial invoice, bill of lading, and shipper’s export declaration (SED).


Insurance Certificate

A document provided by a qualified insurance broker to assure the consignee that insurance will cover the loss or damages to the goods during transit. Click here for sample.

Export License

An export license may be required depending on several factors such as the location where the goods are exported, the personnel/buyers that are going to use it and why they’ll be using it, or as simple as the actual item itself. To be sure if your exported goods need an official license, contact your local customs to verify beforehand.

Export Packing List

This list is used for quick reference and inspection by the shipper and/or freight forwarders and it contains comprehensive details on each package (such as gross total and individual weight, volume, tare and etc.), as well as the type of the packaging itself with the markings shown along with the shipper’s and buyer’s references, and it’s attached in its own envelope marked “packing list enclosed”. Click here for sample.

To Note

The documents needed for the shipment is different depending on the items and the destination of the shipment. And as each country has their own import/export regulations, the shipper must take care to provide proper and precise documentations and it’s best to get an advice from related government agencies.


Of course, to make the whole business easier, freight forwarders can assist you in completing the necessary documentations for smooth processing as they are well-versed in this matter. Rest assured, that these documents are not meant to intimidate, rather to provide assurance and mark of integrity between involved parties.

For further reading, click here to read articles relating with documents mentioned above.

Useful Links

The basic in freight forwarding.

Basic guide in documentations.

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