What key documents do I need for export?

Exporting goods means sending something from one country to another – and they pass through customs along the way. Your shipping paperwork provides key information for customs to clear your goods, so it's vital to check what documents you need and ensure they're filled in correctly.

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What do I need to bear in mind when filling in the documents?

Ensure the information on each document is consistent. The details on your air waybill, commercial invoice and all other documents should be the same. If it’s not consistent, customs will ask for more information and your customer might have problems receiving your shipment.

Who do I give the documents to?

All the documents need to be handed over to the driver. Once the driver returns to the carrier’s station, the paperwork will be checked to see if everything is in order. If the paperwork is incomplete, they’ll hold your shipment and you’ll be contacted, which is likely to cause a delay in shipping

Now let’s go through the documents you need to export your goods.

Export declaration

This will need to be submitted and approved by the authorities before your goods leave the country. Your carrier should be able to take care of this using the information from your paperwork.

Commercial invoice

Make sure you have a commercial invoice. If you’re not sure how to fill one in, you can watch our video all about commercial invoices.

Air waybill

You’ll also need an air waybill or consignment note. This outlines key details about your shipment such as the number of items, a goods description and weight. For more information, watch our video on how to fill one in.

Packing list

It’s worth including a packing list as some countries require it. To be extra careful, you could also place one inside your package.

Remember, a packing list and a commercial invoice are two different documents. A commercial invoice includes the price while a packing list outlines the details of the goods like the weight and quantity.

Export license

This is a document issued by government bodies allowing registered companies or individuals to legally ship goods that are otherwise restricted. It’s important to check if you need one well in advance of shipping. Find out more about export licenses here.

Certificate of origin

This an official document that states where a product was produced, manufactured or processed. Find out how to check if you need one here.

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