There are certain documents in the transportation and logistics industry that all freight forwarders need to be familiar with. Even the smallest mistake while filling these paperwork could lead to a disruption of the shipping process. As an independent freight forwarder if you are struggling to comprehend what freight documents mean for your shipments then keep reading this post which will take you through all the important shipping documents that you might encounter while moving freight internationally.
The most important freight documents in the transportation and logistics sector
This document is like a formal declaration of the order that contains the transaction details, the details about the parties involved, the date of transaction and the type of cargo. This document enumerates what the seller will deliver and its price.
This is an important freight document you will need for international sea freight. It comes with all the details about the serial numbers, cargo dimension, weight, harmonized systems code etc. In other words, it includes an in-depth overview of the shipment as mentioned in the Commercial Invoice. It also comes with info about the packing of the cargo that allows for easy identification of each package by all the stakeholders including the forwarder, carrier, consignee, etc.
The commercial invoice is a vital paperwork in the container shipping industry. This is the invoice that the exporter or seller issues to the buyer or the importer. This document is like a proof of sale that is required to complete the customs clearance process. Commercial invoices are like regular invoices but they also come with information about the financial institution, freight forwarder, shipping line, exporter and importer. Typically a commercial invoice comes with the following kinds of data- number of items, country of origin, item description, terms of sale, export reason, consignee name, and shipper name.
Certificate of origin
This certification is an acknowledgement of the fact that the shipment has been processed, manufactured, and obtained in a particular country. This paperwork which is certified by the chamber of commerce needs to be submitted by the exporter or manufacturer. There are two main kinds of certificate of origin- preferential and non preferential. The non-preferential certificate of origin are the ones where the cargo is shipped from a country that doesn’t allow preferential tax treatment. Some of the details in this certificate include shipper’s name and address, number of boxes, weight, cargo description, transport details etc.
Bill of lading
This is the document that the carrier issues to the independent freight forwarder in charge of the shipment. The Bill of Lading comes with all the important shipment details like volume, destination, and commodity type. You will get an air waybill, sea waybill or rail waybill depending on your mode of transportation. It lists all parties involved in the shipping process along with information such as name and addresses of the consignee and the shipper, purchase order, shipment pickup date, cargo description and weight, packing details, details of the forwarders and special instructions. Moreover, this is by far the most important shipping document. You cannot execute a shipment without a B/L. It has to be issued to move cargo from one place to another. They also work as proof of ownership of the shipment.
Letter of credit
Letter of credit is a paperwork by the bank on part of the importer to the seller where the specified payment is agreed upon. This is a very important document since it is the primary means of payment in international freight shipping. Simply put, this document is an agreement between the importer and exporter through which the payment is made when the terms and conditions of the buyer is satisfied. On shipping the freight, the exporter provides this paperwork to the bank as proof that the shipment has been sent as agreed. It usually contains details about the goods, its description, and documentation requirements.
For certain kinds of shipments, independent freight forwarders might need to provide one of the kinds of certificates mentioned below:
-Vessel certificate- It is used as proof of ownership of a vessel. They come with details like age and maintenance status of the ship. At times, you might need to provide this certificate as part of the requirements for issuing the letter of credit.
– Production certificate- This certificate is used to certify if the materials are or production mode of the cargo uses approved methods. It is needed when you are sending your shipment to/from countries when production related regulations are in place.
-Phytosanitary certificate- This documentation is only used for plant and plant based products. Obtaining the phytosanitary certification implies that the cargo is free from regulated pests. Additionally, it also implies that the shipment conforms with the phytosanitary requirements of the importing nation.
Notice of arrival
The arrival notice is the document informing that the shipment is about the reach the destination. It includes important details like cargo description, sailing details, contact of the carrier and more. The sea freight carrier’s destination agent issues this document to the consignee as well as to any other parties who need to be notified as stated in the Bill of Lading.