Is There a Form for That? An Introduction to Commonly Used Exporting Forms for Your Small Business
by kmurray, Community Moderator
- Created: March 10, 2014, 8:13 am
- Updated: March 10, 2014, 8:28 am
If you’re a small business owner interested in exporting – or are already navigating the international arena – you know there’s a lot to get organized. The resources available from Export.gov can help you with all the stages, from training and market research to information about financing. Export.gov also offers a wealth of information about documents that are used in exporting. Here’s a rundown of a few of the most common.
Common Export Documents
Commercial Invoice: A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. Governments often use them to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties.
Export Packing List: An export packing list features much more detail than a standard domestic packing list. It lists the seller, buyer, shipper, invoice number, shipment date and more. It also itemizes quantity, description, type of package (such as a box or crate), the weight and even more details.
Pro Forma Invoice: An exporter prepares a pro forma invoice before shipping the goods. It lets the buyer know the goods to be sent, their value and other key information. It also can be used as an offering of sale or price quote.
Airway Bill: Airway bills are required for any airfreight shipments and are shipper-specific. For example, USPS, Fed-Ex, UPS, etc. have individual airway bills
Bill of Lading: A bill of lading is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier. A straight bill of lading is non-negotiable. A second, negotiable type is known as a shipper's order bill of lading. This can be bought, sold or traded while the goods are in transit. The customer usually needs an original as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.
Electronic Export Information (EEI): This is the most common of all export control documents. It’s required for shipments above $2,500 and for shipments of any value requiring an export license. It has to be electronically filed via the AES Direct online system, which is a free service from Census and Customs. If you’re shipping to Canada, you don’t need an EEI unless an export license is required.
Export Licenses: An export license is a government document that authorizes the export of specific goods in specific quantities to a particular destination. Some countries require an export license for most or all exports; others require it only under special circumstances.
Certificates Of Origin
Generic Certificate of Origin: Some countries require a Certificate of Origin (CO) for either all or just certain products. In many cases, a statement of origin printed on company letterhead is sufficient, although some countries require that it be notarized. You should verify if a CO is required with the buyer, an experienced shipper/freight forwarder or the Trade Information Center.
Check out Export.gov for more information about these and more, including documents required for shipping specific products and destination-specific requirements. You can also visit Business USA’s Exporting Portal for additional resources.
- A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 – Getting Started
- A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 2 – Getting Financing
- Small Business Exporting – Insights from National Small Business Week 2013
- 6 Steps to Assess Your Small Business’ Readiness to Export
About the Author
Top Rated Articles
About This Blog
General small business tips and tricks.
- July 2014 (13)
- June 2014 (17)
- May 2014 (23)
- April 2014 (28)
- March 2014 (21)
- February 2014 (16)
- January 2014 (22)
- December 2013 (15)
- November 2013 (26)
- October 2013 (17)
- September 2013 (24)
- August 2013 (21)
- July 2013 (26)
- June 2013 (24)
- May 2013 (29)
- April 2013 (29)
- March 2013 (27)
- February 2013 (26)
- January 2013 (30)