UsChina Shipping, Shipping Documents & paperwork

Shipping documents/Shipping paperwork

As you would’ve probably expected shipping comes with a fair share of paperwork, below are the basic documents:

Bill of Lading (B/L)

Bill of Lading is the most fundamental document involved in shipping. For more details, pls refer to Encyclopedia & New, Bill of Lading.

It is mandatory for all types of products, whether shipped to sea or air, supposed to be delivered to the buyer along with CI(commercial invoice) and PL(packing list) for customs clearance.


Packing list (PL)

A document specifying the volume, different types of products and quantity per type of product.



Commercial Invoice (CI)

A document specifying the order value, types of products and consignee. This document is used esp for calculation of VAT, import duty.



Certificate of Origin/Form A, Form E, etc

A document specifying the origin of the raw material and / or the products,  used to determine the customs rate but also for statistics and enforcement of embargoes.

Different countries got different customs rates that are applied when importing products to the EU or USA. (I.e. the EU offers a reduced tariff for textile import from India. The importer is required to prove that the true origin in order to be granted the reduced tariff)

Mandatory for all types of shipments: No (Required in certain countries and markets for food, chemicals, raw materials and if the buyer is requesting a reduced tariff)


Licenses & Certifications

Certain products require additional documentations. In most countries, this includes agricultural products, food, electronics, vehicles, etc. There’s no global standard for this, each country might be a little different.

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