7 important Shipping Documents for Ocean shipments

Jan 17' 2023
10 mins

When shipping goods by sea, there are several important documents that you will need to have in order to ensure a smooth and successful shipment. These documents can vary depending on the specific details of your shipment, such as the type of goods being shipped and the destination country, but some common documents that are typically required for both imports and exports include:

  1. Commercial Invoice: This is a document that provides detailed information about the goods being shipped, including the quantity, value, and description of the items. It acts as proof of sale between buyer and seller, and it is issued by the seller.

    Why it is required: It is used by customs officials to determine the applicable duties and taxes for the shipment.
  2. Bill of Lading: Bill of Lading (B/L) is an evidence contract between the shipper, the carrier (transporter) and the consignee; this is a document issued by the carrier (e.g. the shipping company) that outlines the terms and conditions of the shipment, including details about the goods being shipped, their quantity and weight, and the agreed-upon freight charges.

    Why it is required: B/L acts as the “title” of goods, which means whoever has BL can claim the cargo at the arrival port.
  3. Certificate of Origin: This document verifies the country of origin of the goods being shipped, and is typically issued by a government agency or trade association.

    Why it is required: It is often required for customs purposes, as it can affect the applicable duties and taxes for the shipment.
  4. Export/Import License: Depending on the type of goods being shipped and the destination country, an export/import license may be required. This  document grants permission to export/import certain goods, and it is typically issued by the government of the country to which the goods are being shipped from or shipped to.

    Why it is required: The license ensures that the exported/imported goods will not be used in a way that could harm national security or violate international agreements.
  5. Packing List: A packing list accompanies a shipment of goods and provides detailed information about the contents of the package. The packing list typically includes the quantity, description, and weight of each item in the shipment, the type of packaging used and the total weight of the shipment.

    Why it is required: It is used for customs clearance, inventory control and tracking of the goods.
  6. Shipping Bill: It is used in international trade to provide detailed information about a shipment of goods being exported from one country to another. Typically  details such as the names and addresses of the sender as well as recipient, the nature and quantity of the goods being shipped, the value of the shipment, and any applicable tariffs or taxes are included.

    Why it is required: The shipping bill is often required by customs officials in order to clear the shipment for export and to ensure compliance with international trade regulations.
  7. Insurance Certificate: This document provides proof of insurance coverage for the goods being shipped. Either shipper or consignee or both can take the insurance, however, it is generally determined by Incoterms.

    Why it is required: It is used to protect the shipper and the carrier against loss or damage to the cargo during transportation.

In addition to these documents, there may be other requirements depending on the specific details of your shipment. For example, if the goods being shipped are hazardous or perishable, additional documentation may be required. It is important to research and understands the specific requirements for your shipment in order to ensure that you have all of the necessary documents.

Managing and tracking all these documents can get quite chaotic and considering the importance of these documents, having a centralized digital Document Management System can improve security and efficiency in your freight management process. Traydo, an end-to-end freight management platform, offers a feature called Digi-Vault, where all of your shipping documents are automatically uploaded and organized by shipment. If you are interested in learning more about Traydo's solution and how it can benefit your business, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to assist you and provide more information.

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