Importing/Exporting - How to ensure your documentation is correct
Written on the 20th of July 2009 by Famous Logistics
Lengthy delays, additional expense and possibly even a hefty fine are what you can expect if you do not have all the correct documents in order when importing or exporting goods. Kym from our team here at Famous Logistics explains, in simple terms, what documents are required and what their purpose is.
The first document that is required is a Commercial Invoice for the shipment. It shows what the shipper has been paid what the value of the goods are. This is for Australian customs. Also for customs purposes, a Packing List should be included – an itemised list of exactly what is being imported, together with the Bill of Lading.
But what exactly is a Bill of Lading? Basically, it's a very important document that is issued to a shipper/exporter by a carrier, that describes the goods to be shipped, acknowledges their receipt and states the terms of the contract for their carriage. It details:
Receipt for cargo
Evidence of the contract of carriage
Document of Title
To further complicate the process, there are two types of Bills of Lading...
1. EXPRESS RELEASE/TELEX RELEASE BILL OF LADING
If the supplier has already been paid by the consignee then they may issue an express bill of lading. By doing this the shipper/exporter surrenders the title to the goods and power of sale over the goods. In this case we only require a copy of the Bill of Lading.
2. ORIGINAL BILLOF LADING
This type of bill is issue to guarantee payment to the shipper or in the case of letters of credits. For instance just say you purchase $40,000 worth of tiles however you have not paid the shipper/exporter for these goods at the time of export. The shipper/exporter requests the carrier (being famous) to issue 3 originals bills. The shipper/exporter then holds these original bills and can either do two things.
On receipt of payment forward the 3 original bills to the consignee. The consignee then presents one of the original bills to us on which we release the cargo.
On receipt of payment from the consignee the shipper/exporter surrenders the 3 originals to the original office and then the bills become express release.
Some companies also just deal in originals bills, however original bills are a legal document and they must be adhered to.
Australian Quarantine has strict regulations about another two very important documents that are to be included. Depending on what is being imported, a Fumigation Certification is required to show that all items have been treated properly prior to entering the country. This helps to protect Australia’s agricultural industries and unique environment from quarantine risks such as parasites, plant diseases and pests. Wood items, plant items, food, and biological products are just some of the items that may require treatment by a recognised service provider. Please contact Famous Logistics for details about your particular shipment of products.
The other important document required by Australian Quarantine is a Packing Declaration. Kym says this is a document frequently forgotten about, and its absence results in the shipment being held in a custom’s controlled warehouse (for which you are charged) until the correct documentation is received and in order. The Packing Declaration is not to be confused with the Packing List – it's something else entirely. The Packing Declaration indicates to Australian Quarantine how the goods are packed. For example, are they contained in boxes or on wooden pallets? The Shipper’s name and contact details need to be clearly displayed on the front of the Packing Declaration. This document must also link to the Bill of Lading or the invoice relating to this shipment. On the declaration they refer to a numerical link that is either the Bill of Lading or the commercial invoice number. The document must also be signed and dated with a company stamp/seal.
Finally, the numerical link should be included with the rest of the documents. This is effectively the container number and it is required in order to match it to the shipment.
If one or more of these documents are missing or incorrectly filled out, your goods will be held in a custom’s controlled warehouse. The importer of the goods will be charged for the storage, as well as for any additional fumigation or treatment that is required in order for the goods to be released..
Different documents are required for the export of goods, and this all depends on the port for which your goods are intended. These include, but are not limited, to, the Shippers Letter of Instruction, the Commercial Invoice for Customs, a Packing List as well as the relevant Quarantine Declaration Forms for the particular port. It is advised you check with Famous Logistics prior to preparing your export, as to which documents are required, depending on the particular product you are exporting and where it’s going.
If all the correct documents are completed and returned properly, this is the best way to ensure your import/export arrives at its destination with minimal delays and expense.
If you have any further need for information regarding Importing/Exporting please find out more on our Famous Logistics website.
Copyright Famous Pacific Shipping Pty Ltd. 2009. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be used without the prior written consent from the author.