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When trading internationally the right paperwork is crucial. Missing or inaccurate documents can increase risks, lead to delays and extra costs, or even prevent a deal from being completed.
Whether you are importing or exporting, you need to understand what paperwork is required. Even if you use a freight forwarder or an agent, it's still up to you to make sure the right documentation is available.
However, you should remember that you are ultimately responsible for making sure you have the correct documentation.
The financing, movement and control of goods in international trade is generally implemented by the completion and transfer of certain documents. So in order to ensure that your goods arrive on time and that you receive prompt payment for your consignment, you must make sure that you have the correct documents and that they are accurately completed.
The Single Administrative Document (SAD) is the primary customs form used in international trade. Traders and agents use the SAD to assist with declaring import, export, transit and community status declarations when communicating with customs and revenue.
The SAD is required for trade between Ireland and non-
The SAD was introduced to control goods arriving from outside the EU and goods being exported to outside of the EU. For trade within the European Union (EU) single market, the SAD is not necessary. The SAD also covers the movement of non-
SAD box numbers on the paper version correspond to the electronic system field numbers respectively. Many of the boxes on the SAD request information from other commercial paperwork, such as invoices, packing lists, certificates and shipping documents, pertaining to the shipment.
Most customs procedures are now carried out electronically and the information, previously captured on the SAD, is processed using electronic systems.
New security legislation requires advanced information for goods arriving into or leaving the EU. If you supply a SAD with your goods, you will be able to meet many of these security requirements.
You will need an EORI number to complete an Entry or Exit Summary Declaration.
A completed SAD must detail:
When completing the Single Administrative Document (SAD), there are two key boxes which determine the customs duties that you are liable to:
The commodity code (box 33) is an eight-
The CPC (box 37) identifies customs procedure codes. Procedure codes are made up of two pairs of numbers and a three digit coded reference. The first pair of numbers covers the procedure being applied for and the second set covers any previous customs procedure. The last three digits clarify the actual procedure being applied for.
CPCs cover routine imports and exports, goods being imported or exported on a temporary basis and also goods brought in for processing which are later re-
Community status and free circulation
The status declaration (box 1) is required when goods transit the European Union. Goods that wholly originate in the EU have 'Community Status'. This also includes imported goods which have had their customs charges paid. Community status goods can be moved around the EU with no further customs charges. Goods arriving in or leaving the EU which have their customs charges suspended will be deemed as 'not being in free circulation'.
Community or common transit is a customs procedure that allows goods on which duty has yet to be paid to move from one country in the EU to another. It is also used to move goods to or via European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries: Norway, Lichenstein, Switzerland and Iceland.
Status T1 covers the movement of non-
Status T2 covers the movement of Community goods to or via an EFTA country, as well as to or from San Marino and Andorra
Status T2F is used for Community goods moving to, from, or between the EU's special territories, such as the Channel Islands and the Canary Islands
Commercial Invoice -
A typical invoice contains
Consular Invoice -
Customs Invoice -
A Certificate of Origin is a document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment were wholly obtained, produced or manufactured or processed in a particular country (country of origin). Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.
Certificates of Origin are intended solely to prove the origin of goods in order to satisfy customs or trade requirements. Certificates of Origin should only be issued when they are actually needed, for example, in the following circumstances;
Chambers of Commerce supply the general EU certificate of origin. It usually needs to be authenticated by the local Chamber of Commerce. The Arab Irish Certificate of Origin is required for certain markets -
Considerably more detailed and informative than a standard domestic packing list, an Export Packing List lists seller, buyer, shipper, invoice number, date of shipment, mode of transport, carrier, and itemizes quantity, description, the type of package, such as a box, crate, drum, or carton, the quantity of packages, total net and gross weight (in kilograms), package marks, and dimensions, if appropriate. Both commercial stationers and freight forwarders carry packing list forms. A packing list may serve as conforming document. It is not a substitute for use as a commercial invoice. In addition, Irish and foreign customs officials may use the export packing list to check the cargo.
Dublin Chamber of Commerce is the national guaranteeing association for ATA Carnets for Ireland. Cork Chamber of Commerce is also able to issue these documents.
ATA Carnets are used for the temporary export of three types of goods to any of the other 69 signatory countries to the ATA and/or Istanbul Conventions.
1. Commercial Samples
2. Goods for Trade Fairs or exhibitions
3. Professional Equipment
All goods being moved under an ATA Carnet must be from one of these categories:
Original Paintings / Works of Art
Photographic and filming equipment (excluding video equipment)
Jewellery and articles of precious metals / stones
Electric / Electronic and scientific or video equipment
Yachts and boats
Furniture and furnishings
Skins Furs and Leather Goods
Concert and Musical Equipment Electric/Electronic
Carpets and Rugs
Toys (Electric or not)
Imitation or Costume Jewellery
Loose Precious Stones
Concert and Musical Equipment – non Electric/Electronic.
For an ATA Carnet to be issued the following information is required:
The deposit can be provided in the form of a bankers draft or a bank guarantee.
The countries who are members of the ATA carnet chain are:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China (international trade fairs and exhibitions only), Cote d'Ivoire, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Iceland, India (Fairs only), Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka (except for professional equipment), Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United States (except for international trade fairs and exhibitions), United Arab Emirates
Irish goods going to EU countries do not need carnets.
Note that vehicles for private use cannot usually be shipped under an ATA Carnet. These will probably be moved under a Carnet de Passage. To find out if they will accept a Carnet de Passage contact the relevant country embassy.
**It is important that the carnet holder understands their responsibilities in using an ATA Carnet:
It is the responsibility of the ATA Carnet Holder to produce the carnet at any relevant customs point in order to get the Carnet stamped on entry into and exit from a destined country. It is of great importance to note that duties and taxes may be demanded on the goods being imported into a country if the Carnet is not stamped correctly by customs. The customs authorities have TWO years after the expiry of the Carnet to raise a query and in turn to demand payment of duties if the carnet has not been stamped. These payments are the responsibility of the Carnet holder. Deposits and guarantees will be held until the carnet is returned correctly stamped and are then returned on request.
Some countries require the certificate of origin, commercial invoice, etc to be legalised by their embassy in Ireland. Legalisation fees can be very high and vary from country to country. There is generally a specified waiting period ranging from 24 to 48 hours.
A Bill of Lading has 3 basic purposes
1) Evidence of Contract of Carriage
The contract between a buyer and seller was already established when the buyer placed the order with the seller and they both discussed and agreed (verbally or in writing) the what, where, when, how and how much of the transaction in detail. The contract between a shipper and the carrier was already established when the shipper or his agent made a booking with the shipping line to carry the cargo from A to B.
The Bill Of Lading is the evidence of the contract of carriage entered into between the carrier and shipper in order to carry out the transportation of the cargo as per the contract between the buyer and the seller.
2) Receipt of Goods
A Bill of Lading is issued by the carrier or their agent to the shipper or their agent in exchange for the receipt of the cargo. The issuance of the B/L is proof that the carrier has received the goods from the shipper or their agent in apparent good order and condition, as handed over by the shipper.
3) Document of Title to the goods
This means that the goods may be transferred to the holder of the bill of lading which then gives the holder of the bill of lading the rights to claim the goods or pass them on to a third party.
Straight Bill of Lading
A B/L issued in originals to a named consignee and therefore is a non negotiable and non transferable document. Release of cargo at the destination must be to the named consignee and only upon surrender of all the original bills issued.
Straight bills of lading should be issued in original form and at least one original of the bills issued must be handed back to the shipping lines agent at destination in order for the cargo to the released and the cargo may only be issued to the consignee recorded in the bill of lading.
Seaway Bill of Lading
A Bill of Lading similar to a Straight Bill of Lading and is also a non negotiable document but the similarity ends there.
A Seaway Bill of Lading is usually issued for inter company shipments like from Apple Computers Seattle to Apple Computers Ireland or where the shipment takes place between two different companies but there are no negotiations required between the two either directly or via bank for release of the cargo and the shipper doesn’t need to submit an original bill of lading to anyone to secure his payment.
No originals are issued in the case of a Seaway Bill of Lading so no surrender is required. This Bill of Lading satisfies roles 1 & 2 above and does not satisfy as a document of title. The document is not negotiable or transferable.
As there are no originals issued for this type of bill, the release is termed as an Express Release and is mentioned as such on the body of the bill of lading and manifest.
Negotiable Bill of Lading
A Bill of Lading issued in originals and may be consigned “to order” or “to order of shipper” or “to order of XXXX Bank” where a Letter of Credit is involved)
One of the most important aspects of a Bill of Lading is that it can be used as a negotiable instrument for payments between a buyer and seller using Letter of Credits.
A negotiable bill of lading must be guarded closely and due care must be taken not to misplace it.
Another notable feature of this type of B/L is that it contains the Terms and Conditions of the Carrier on the 1st Page of the B/L.. The 1st page is what we all commonly refer to as the “back of the bill of lading”.. Seaway bills issued by some carriers do not have these terms and conditions on the back also known as “blank back short form bill of lading.
Destination port agents may release cargo only after at least 1 of the issued originals are surrendered and after checking the endorsements on the back of the bill of lading as it is possible for this type of bill of lading to be endorsed or transferred to another company.
Port to Port Bill of Lading
When a Bill of Lading is issued as a Port to Port Bill also known as an Ocean Bill of Lading, the carrier’s responsibility begins at the port of loading and ends at the port of discharge and therefore the Place of Origin/Receipt or Place of Destination/Delivery should not be mentioned in the Bill of Lading.
Combined Transport Bill of Lading
When a Bill of Lading is issued as a Combined Transport Bill of Lading, it involves multiple modes of transport from the place of receipt to place of delivery and all these movements are carried out as a single contract by multiple service providers under the employ of the carrier. The carrier takes responsibility for any loss or damage for the entire transport including the sea and other mode of transport.
Through Bill of Lading
Similar to Combined Transport Bill of Lading except that in the case of the Through Bill of Lading, the carrier is directly responsible only for the sea leg and for the inland movement they act as an agent in arranging the inland movement.
Telex Release and Express Release
A Telex Release is simply a message that is sent by the shipping line or agent at load port to their office or agent at discharge port advising that the shipper or exporter has surrendered one or all of the original bills of lading that have been issued to them, and that the cargo can be released to the consignee shown on the bill of lading without presentation of any original bills of lading.. This usually is requested only if the consignee is a direct consignee ie. not a bank or ‘to order’.
An Express Release is used in ‘express’ situations such as
The key difference between the two is that:
House Bill of Lading and Master Bill of Lading
A Bill of Lading maybe issued as a House Bill of Lading or a Master Bill of Lading.
A House Bill of Lading (HBL) is issued by an NVOCC operator, or a Freight Forwarder to their customers.
A Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is issued by the Shipping Line (Carrier) to the NVOCC Operator, or Freight Forwarder.
When issued for a FCL shipment (non-
In the House Bill of Lading
In the Master Bill of Lading
In the interest of the NVOCC operator and their insurance coverage/exposure, it is recommended that all the details on the HBL and MBL like vessel/voyage information, cargo description, number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements should remain the identical. The only difference should be in the shipper, consignee and notify details.
Unless disallowed by the Letter of Credit, the HBL is also used/treated as a negotiable document and can be considered to fulfil the roles of a bill of lading.
An Airway Bill (AWB) or air consignment note is a receipt issued by an international airline for goods received for transport and as evidence of the contract of carriage for transport, but it is not a document of title to the goods. Hence, the air waybill is non-
The air waybill is the most important document issued by a carrier either directly or through its authorised agent. It covers transport of cargo from airport to airport. By accepting a shipment an IATA cargo agent is acting on behalf of the carrier whose Air Waybill has been issued.
Air waybills have eleven digit numbers which can be used to make bookings, check the status of delivery, and current position of the shipment. The number consists of:
1. The first three digits are the airline prefix. Each airline has been assigned a 3-
2. The next seven digits are the running number/s -
3. The last digit is what is called the check digit. It is arrived at in the following manner:
The seven digit running numbers are divided by 7, by using a long division calculation. The remainder becomes the check digit. That is why no AWB number ends with a figure greater than 6. Air waybills are issued in 8 sets of different colours. The first three copies are classified as originals. The first original, Green in colour, is the Issuing Carrier's copy. The second, coloured Pink, is the Consignee's Copy. The third, coloured Blue, is the Shipper's copy. A fourth Brown copy acts as the Delivery Receipt, or proof of delivery.
There are several purposes that an Air Waybill serves, but its main functions are:
A. Evidence of Contract of Carriage
Behind every original of the Air Waybill are conditions of contract for carriage.
B. Evidence of Receipt of Goods
When the shipper delivers goods to be forwarded, he will get a receipt. The receipt is proof that the shipment was handed over in good order and condition and also that the shipping instructions, as contained in the Shipper's Letter of Instructions, are acceptable. After completion, an original copy of the air waybill is given to the shipper as evidence of the acceptance of goods and as proof of contract of carriage
C. Freight Bill
The air waybill may be used as a bill or invoice together with supporting documents since it may indicate charges to be paid by the consignee, charges due to the agent or the carrier. An original copy of the Air Waybill is used for the carrier's accounting
D. Certificate of Insurance
The air waybill may also serve as an evidence if the carrier is in a position to insure the shipment and is requested to do so by the shipper.
E. Customs Declaration
Although customs authorities require various documents like a commercial invoice, packing list, etc. the air waybill is proof of the freight amount billed for the goods carried and may be needed to be presented for customs clearance.
The agent only acts as an intermediary between the shipper and carrier. The air waybill is also a contract of good faith. This means that the shipper will be responsible for the haul and also be liable for all the damage suffered by the airline or any person due to irregularity, incorrectness or incompleteness of insertions on the air waybill, even if the air waybill has been completed by an agent or the carrier on his behalf.
When the shipper signs the AWB or issues the letter of instructions he simultaneously confirms his agreement to the conditions of contract.
House and Master Airway Bills
A freight forwarder offering a consolidation service, will issue his own Air Waybill. This is called a Forwarder's or House AWB with its equivalent House BL -
A movement certificate (EUR1) (ATR for Turkey) is required for trade with certain countries which have agreements with the EU and when goods qualify for preferential treatment and duties under the agreement.
Customs authorities in the destination country require this documentation to allow entry of goods imported using generalised system of preferences. The documents a trader requires will depend on the country to which they're exporting.
For most countries, an EUR1 is the required certificate. On completion of an EUR1, it must be stamped by Customs and Revenue. The authorised EUR1 proves that the goods qualify for preferential duty status and is used at customs points to ensure the preference duty rate is charged.
Slightly different rules apply to exports under preference to Mexico.
Turkey also has separate paperwork requirements and the document used is known as the A.TR form.
If you're an approved exporter, you can consider using invoice declarations, by inserting on the invoice or other commercial documents such as the delivery note or packing list, in which the origin of your goods is declared. Using an invoice declaration instead of a separate preference certificate is only permitted for preference countries that are able to benefit from simplified arrangements.
You may use the simplified procedure without seeking formal Customs approval if the value of a consignment does not exceed €6,000s. All endorsements must be signed where formal approval has not been granted.
Suppliers' Declarations for Exporters
Suppliers' Declarations are used to provide evidence that goods supplied to the ultimate exporter satisfy the origin criteria, so they can be considered to be of EU origin in their own right. Exporters use Suppliers' Declarations to prove the originating status of components and materials used to make goods for buying or re-
Exporters must contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) when exporting foodstuffs such as meat, poultry meat, eggs and egg products, milk and milk products, honey. The Sea-
DAFM: +353 (0) 1 607 2000; www.agriculture.gov.ie
SFPA: +353(0) 1 678 3636; www.sfpa.ie
For foods of non-
From 1st May 2011, the Environmental Health Service of the Health Service Executive (HSE) are responsible for issuing Export Certificates for foods of non-
Dangerous goods must be accompanied by appropriate special paperwork known as a dangerous goods note. Its is always the shipper/exporters responsibility to ensure this is filled out correctly. Read more here…….
A comprehensive inspection of goods will include scrutiny of invoices and other documentation to enable proper identification prior to shipment with regard to:
This identification allows for the correct assessment of customs duties and taxes or the shipment value for foreign exchange control. Pre-
Other types of certificates may be requested for certain products, e.g. certificate of age for certain spirits, certificates of conformity and certificate of free sale etc. If you are exporting, its prudent to check whether any special documentation is required overseas to satisfy local regulations. For example, you might need documentary proof that your goods meet local product standards. There are simplified processes for temporary exports, eg if you are taking samples to an overseas exhibition or importing goods to complete repairs or processing with the intention to re-
For a discussion on any of the above points, please don't hesitate to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
A phytosanitary certificate documents the origin of a shipment and confirms inspection in the country of origin by a member of that country's National Plant Protection Organization.
They certify that the materials and commodities for shipping have been inspected, are considered free from quarantine (and other) pests and that it conforms to the plant health regulations of the importing country. The certifying country usually charges a fee for providing these certificates.
Phytosanitary certificates are governed under the International Plant Protection Convention, a multilateral treaty acknowledged by the World Trade Organization as the source for international standards for phytosanitary measures affecting trade. Phytosanitary certificates are recognized as an internationally accepted form of pest risk mitigation.
You may need a phytosanitary certificate if you export the following to certain countries outside of the European Union:
Phytosanitary certificates are issued by the Forestry Commission to the equivalent national plant protection organisation (NPPO) in the importing country.
**Wildflower Seed Trade samples can be sent by post, without license provided the seeds are not grown and are clearly marked 'Trade Samples Only-
The CMR is a consignment note with a standard set of transport and liability conditions primarily used in intra European road freight shipments. It confirms that the carrier (ie the road haulage company) has received the goods and that a contract of carriage exists between the trader and the carrier. Unlike a bill of lading, a CMR is not a document of title. It does not necessarily give its holder and/or the carrier rights of ownership or possession of the goods, although minimum levels of insurance is included.
You can fill in the CMR yourself, or you can have a freight forwarder or the carrier do it for you. However, you remain responsible for the accuracy of its contents.
A range of information needs to be covered in the CMR note, including:
This list is not comprehensive.
Generally there will be four copies of a CMR note. One will be kept by the trader and another by the carrier, while the third will travel with the goods all the way to their final destination. The final is the administration copy.
While the carrier is liable for any loss, damage or delay to a consignment until it is delivered, the trader is responsible for any loss or damage the carrier suffers resulting from incorrect details having been provided in the CMR note.
This document serves a very important function. An exporter uses the form to convey transportation and documentation instructions to his or her agent, usually an international freight forwarder. In addition, the SLI typically provides a limited power of attorney to the forwarding agent for arranging transportation of the goods and, in some cases, filing the Electronic Export Information (EEI) to the Automated Export System (AES).
By completing an SLI and sending it to your freight forwarder, you are establishing a best practice for your firm. You have a written record of who received the shipping documents, who to contact for questions, who to contact for proof of export, and who issued the export control documentation.
There are several reasons to create an SLI,
The exporter has a written record of its instructions to the forwarder;
It acts as the request for documents prepared by the freight forwarder, including the relevant Electronic Export Information(EEI) extract, any other export control documents, and the international bill of lading;