Must-Have Documents For Your Export Import Business Journey

By | October 7, 2023

Must-Have Documents For Your Export Import Business Journey

Whenever you’re dealing with any commercial goods, whether you’re bringing them into a country or sending them out, you have to go through a process called customs clearance. In a nutshell, it’s like getting permission from the government to move your stuff in or out of the country.

Now, this customs clearance thing involves a bit of paperwork. You’ve got to fill out some forms and submit them either online or in person along with your shipment. Why, you ask? Well, it’s so that the folks in charge can figure out how much tax and duty you need to pay for your cargo.

The exact documents you need can vary depending on what you’re shipping, where it’s coming from, and where it’s going. But here’s the basic rule: Most businesses, no matter what they’re moving, have to deal with a standard set of documents when they’re importing or exporting goods.

Hence, Here is the list of documents that must have for export import business:

Sr no. Export Documents Import Documents
1  Commercial Invoice  Commercial Invoice
2  Bill of Lading or Airway Bill  Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
3  Letter of Credit  Letter of Credit or LC
4  Bill of Sight  Bill of Entry
5  Shipping Bill  Certificate of Insurance
6  Export License  Import License
7  ProForma Invoice  Technical Write-up or Literature
(Only required for specific goods)
8  Customs Packing List  Industrial License (for specific goods)
9  Country of Origin or COO Certificate  Test Report (If any)
10  Bill of Exchange  RCMC Registration cum Membership Certificate
11  Warehouse Receipt  GATT/DGFT declaration
12  Health Certificates  DEEC/DEPB/ECGC (License for duty benefits)

List Of Documents Required For Both Export And Import:

1. Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is a crucial piece of paperwork that holds significant weight in the world of international trade. When you’re exporting goods, this document is the first one the customs clearance department will want to see. It’s like your golden ticket for getting your goods through customs smoothly.

Now, what’s inside this magical commercial invoice? Well, it’s packed with essential details about your order. You’ll find information like a detailed description of the goods, their selling price, how many you’re shipping, the cost of packaging, and even the weight or volume of your items. All of this data plays a pivotal role in determining the customs import value at the destination port.

But that’s not all. The invoice also contains information about freight and insurance, the terms of delivery, and how you plan to make your payment. When your goods reach customs, a customs representative will carefully examine this invoice. They’ll cross-reference the information on it with the actual order to make sure everything lines up. If all looks good, your shipment gets the green light to move forward. If not, you might hit a roadblock in the customs clearance process. So, remember, when you’re exporting, that commercial invoice is your passport to a hassle-free journey through customs.

2. Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading, often referred to as simply the B/L holds a pivotal role in the world of international shipping and logistics. It’s essentially a legal document issued by the carrier to the shipper, and it serves as concrete evidence of the transport contract for the goods being shipped. Within this document, you’ll find detailed information about the products, including their type, quantity, and the final destination they’re heading to.

When your goods arrive at the destination port, this bill becomes crucial during the customs clearance process, as it must be presented to the customs officials by the exporter. It’s a must-have, regardless of how your goods are being transported – by land, sea, or air.

Moreover, it provides an added layer of security, serving as a receipt for your shipment, and can be particularly valuable in case of asset theft.

3. Letter of Credit

Moving on to the Letter of Credit, this document plays a vital role in ensuring that international transactions proceed smoothly. It’s essentially a letter issued by the importer’s bank, signifying the importer’s commitment to making the specified payment to the exporter for the goods.

This letter of credit acts as a guarantee for the exporter, assuring them that they will receive their payment as agreed upon in the transaction. Importantly, the exporter often dispatches the goods only once they have received this letter of credit, making it a critical part of the transaction process.

In the complex world of international trade, this letter provides a level of trust and security, ensuring that both parties fulfill their obligations with confidence.

Read Also: For an Importer How Safe is Letter of Credit (LOC)

List Of Documents Required For Export:

1. Bill of Sight: Imagine you’re shipping something, but you’re not entirely sure what’s inside the boxes. That’s when you need a Bill of Sight. It’s like a heads-up to the customs department, saying, “Hey, we’re not quite sure about the contents.” This document lets the receiver inspect the goods before paying any duties. When you don’t have all the necessary info for the regular bill of entry, the Bill of Sight steps in. You’ll also need to send a letter with it to get customs clearance.

2. Shipping Bill: The Shipping Bill is like the official report card for your export. It’s a detailed record of what you’re sending out. You can file it online through a system called ICEGATE. To get this bill, gather a bunch of documents, like the GR Forms, packing list, export license, and more. This paperwork helps customs keep track of your shipment.

3. Export License: If you’re exporting goods abroad, you might need an export license. Think of it like a permission slip for your business. You only need it when you’re exporting to an international destination for the first time. The type of license can vary based on what you’re exporting, and you can get it by applying to the licensing authority.

4. Pro Forma Invoice: This document is like a sneak peek at a future sale. It shows that you plan to sell a specific quantity of goods under certain terms and conditions. It’s like saying, “Here’s what we’re going to sell, and here’s how we’re going to do it.” It’s similar to a Purchase Order, but it comes before the actual sales transaction.

Read Also: How to Prepare an Error-Free Export Proforma Invoice?

5. Customs Packing List: This list is like a detailed inventory of what’s in your shipment. It helps everyone involved in the transaction keep track of things. When you’re shipping stuff internationally, it’s a handy reference. They even attach it to the outside of the containers, so there’s no mix-up with the cargo.

6. Country of Origin Certificate: This certificate is like a birth certificate for your goods. It declares where the products were entirely made or processed. It’s essential to show that your goods are truly from the country you claim they’re from.

7. Bill of Exchange: This is a payment option that lets the importer pay for the goods either right away or at a later date. It’s a bit like a bank-issued IOU. You can even transfer it to someone else.

8. Warehouse Receipt: Imagine you’ve cleared all the export duties and freight charges, and now your goods are sitting in a warehouse. You’ll get a Warehouse Receipt as proof that your stuff is safe and sound. You only need this if your goods are at an Inland Container Depot (ICD).

9. Health Certificates: When you’re dealing with food products in international trade, you might need a Health Certificate. It’s like a stamp of approval saying the food is safe to eat and follows all the rules. This certificate is issued by the government authorities when the shipment starts its journey.

These documents may sound like a lot, but they’re like the paperwork trail that ensures everything goes smoothly when goods cross international borders.


List Of Documents Required For Import:

1. Bill of Entry: Think of the Bill of Entry as your ticket to bring goods into a country. It’s a legal paper that the importer, a Custom House Agent (CHA), or the carrier must fill out and sign. Once you’ve submitted it, customs authorities swing into action.

They assess and check the goods to make sure everything’s in order. And here’s the cool part: once the process is done, you, the importer, can claim a refund on the taxes you paid for the goods. It’s like getting a bonus for doing your paperwork right!

2. Insurance Certificate: This certificate is like an insurance card for your shipment. It helps customs folks figure out if the price you paid for your goods includes insurance. Why does that matter? Because it helps them calculate the exact value of your shipment, which, in turn, determines the import duties you have to pay. So, it’s like making sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

3. Import License: Not everything can waltz into India freely. Some items need special permission, and that’s where an Import License comes in. It’s like getting a golden ticket from the government to import restricted goods. To get one, you need to apply to the licensing authority.

4. Technical Write-up, Literature: Imagine you’re shipping something that’s a bit tricky to understand. That’s when you need a Technical Write-up. It’s like the user manual for your product, explaining all its features and how to handle it safely. This helps customs folks get a better grasp of what your product is all about and the value it brings.

5. Industrial License: For certain goods, you might need an Industrial License to import them. It’s like a special pass that proves you’re eligible for certain import duty benefits. When you’re bringing in these kinds of goods, a copy of your Industrial License becomes one of the documents customs wants to see.

6. RCMC Registration cum Membership Certificate: RCMC is like a badge of honor issued by Export Promotion Councils in India. If you’re an exporter or importer looking to snag benefits from government schemes, this certificate is your key. When you’re clearing customs, don’t forget to show them your RCMC!

7. GATT/DGFT Declaration: Every importer has to do some paperwork called the GATT and DGFT declaration. It’s all part of the customs clearance process. Think of it as agreeing to play by the rules laid out in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. You fill out three copies—one for customs, one for yourself, and one for safekeeping. Just remember to be thorough and honest with your details!

8. Customs Valuation for Imported Goods: When your imported goods are subject to taxes and duties, this form is a big deal. You keep three copies—one for customs, one for you, and one in your records for three years. It’s super important to be accurate when filling it out. Think of it as your promise to be upfront about your goods, and it’s part of the customs clearance drill.

These documents might sound like a lot, but they’re like the secret code to smoothly navigate the customs world. So, keep them handy, and you’ll sail through the import process like a pro!

Now that you’ve gained a foundational understanding of the crucial documents required for export in India, it’s time to embark on your journey of procuring and managing them. Take care to meticulously review and ensure the accuracy of the information contained in these documents, aligning them with your product and goods specifications. By doing so, you can proactively avoid last-minute complications, ensuring a smoother export process.

However, it’s important to remember that the documents discussed here are just the beginning. The world of exporting is a vast landscape with myriad aspects waiting to be explored. To equip yourself with insider insights, practical knowledge, and invaluable firsthand experience in the realm of international trade, consider enrolling in iiiEMImport Export Certification Courses.

With iiiEM, you can delve deeper into the intricacies of export-import business, learning from experts and seasoned professionals. Our comprehensive courses offer a holistic understanding of global trade practices, helping you become a successful exporter in your own right. Whether you prefer online or offline learning, iiiEM has the resources and expertise to guide you on your journey.