If you are in the freight shipping industry, you know just how extensive the paperwork is. There are numerous forms and documents required for each and every shipment. Ocean freight shipping documents and forms may include the following:

  • Ocean Bill of Lading: A contract between the exporter and the ocean vessel for the transportation and delivery of the goods to a specified third party at a specified foreign location. The Ocean Bill of Lading is issued once the liner has set sail and the goods have been entered into the vessel’s manifest. It is also a receipt for the cargo in transit.
  • Commercial Invoice: A bill of goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are usually used by governments to determine the accurate value of the goods when assessing customs duties. Governments that use the invoice to regulate imports generally specify the language to be used, form, number of copies, and content required.
  • Consular Invoice: A document required by some countries describing the shipment of goods and information including the consignee, consignor, and the value of the shipment. It is certified by the foreign country’s consular official and is used by customs to verify quantity, value, and nature of the shipped goods.
  • Inspection Certification: This is required by some countries and purchasers in order to verify the specifications of the shipped goods. The certification is generally done by a third party.
  • Dock Receipt and Warehouse Receipt: Used to transfer responsibility when the export goods are moved by the domestic transporter to the port of embarkation and left with the shipping line for export.
  • Destination Control Statement: A statement that appears on the commercial invoice and ocean bill of lading to notify the carrier and all foreign handlers that the goods can only be exported to certain destinations.
  • Shipper’s Export Destination (SED): The SED is used to regulate exports and perform as a source document for official US export statistics. If the export is valued over $500, the SED must be prepared for shipment through the US Postal Service. Exports valued over $2500 and classified under any single Schedule B number require an SED not using the US Postal Service. All shipments, regardless of value, requiring an export license or destined for any country restricted by the Export Administration Regulations must have an SED prepared. SEDs are prepared by the exporter or the exporter’s agent and delivered to the exporting carrier. The exporting carrier will then give the required number of copies to the US Customs Service at the export port.
  • Export Packing List: An informative and detailed packing list. The list itemizes the goods in each package and indicates the form of package, such as a crate, drum, carton, or box. The list also includes the individual net, tare, legal, and gross weights, and measurements for each package recorded in both metric and US systems. It is used by the shipper to determine the total weight and volume and guarantee the right cargo is being transported. The list may also be used by customs officials to check the cargo.
  • Insurance Certificate: This is used to prove to the consignee that insurance will cover any damage to or loss of cargo during shipment.
  • Certificate of Origin: A document that is required in certain nations. It certifies the origin of the exported good. The certificate of origin is most often signed through a semiofficial organization, like a chamber of commerce. It is different than the NAFTA Certificate of Origin in that it may be required for countries not included in the NAFTA agreement.



NAFTA Certificate of Origin

In addition to the forms and documents listed above, the NAFTA Certificate of Origin is a required document for products made in and traded among Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The certificate is used to determine if goods shipped into these countries receive eliminated or reduced duties and tariffs as outlined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Specific rules apply when a NAFTA Certificate of Origin is required, including country of origin, destination country, and the monetary value of the shipment. The certificate must be filled out legibly and completely by the exporter and be in possession of the importer at the time the declaration is made for it to qualify.

As Mexico and Canada are the largest receivers of American goods, the NAFTA Certificate of Origin is a form that is vital to the US commercial shipping industry.

It is required that all documentation be precise, as omissions and slight discrepancies or variations may result in nonpayment for exports and goods, seizure of goods by customs, or prevention of merchandise from ever being exported.

Documentation is also subject to exact time limits and restraints and may not be honored if the allotted time has expired.

The specific kind of documents the exporter must provide varies depending on the origin and destination of the export, as well as the type of goods being shipped. Due to the differences in each country’s import regulations, it is vital for the exporter and importer to be familiar with and provide all required documentation.


How eFileCabinet can Help

eFileCabinet is document management software (or DMS) that can help you increase efficiency and compliance. Your necessary freight shipping forms and documents will be safely stored in one secure, easy-to-access, easy-to-share online location.

Start now by filling out the provided form and receive a demonstration on how eFileCabinet can simplify your management of shipping documents and forms.