- The set of import and export documents normally includes: International sales contract, Commercial Invoice, Packing List, Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, Certificate of Quantity, and Certificate of Quality.
- Under certain circumstances, some other documents are also required, such as: Inspection Certificate; Veterinary Certificate; Phytosanitary Certificate; Sanitary Certificate; v.v.
Conceptually, documents in import and export of goods are documents containing information about goods, transportation, insurance and payment to prove a fact, to receive goods, to pay and to claim for compensation.
The set of import and export documents normally includes: international sales contract, commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, certificate of origin, certificate of quantity, and certificate of quality.
International sales contract
An international sales contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller (importer and exporter) having their place of business in different countries, whereby the exporter is obliged to transfer the ownership of goods to the importer and receive money, and the importer is obliged to pay and receive the goods.
Some basic characteristics of international sales contracts are shown below:
- Goods move across custom frontier, usually country borders.
- The payment currency can be the foreign currency of either buyer party or seller party. It also can be foreign currency of both.
- The business headquarter of the contract parties located in different countries.
Mandatory terms must be included in one international sales contract, such as:
However, it is contingent on situation that the parties may reinforce optional terms such as packaging and marking term; warranty; insurance; force majeure; arbitration terms; et.
Bill of Lading (B/L)
A bill of lading is a legal document for the carriage of goods by sea issued by a carrier, captain or forwarder to shippers after the goods have been shipped on board or received for shipment.
In the transport document system, the bill of lading is the most important document because it represents the ownership, which allows the buyer to receive the goods.
There are some main functions of the bill of lading:
- The receipt of goods issued by the carrier to the shipper.
- Evidence of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier.
- Document of title to the goods which are listed on the bill. Thus, it can be purchased or transferred, even if goods have not yet arrived.
- To receive the goods at the port of destination, it is only necessary to present 1 out of 3 original bills of lading.
Commercial invoice is a document made by a seller, detailing the amount stated on financial documents (bills of exchange, promissory note, cheque).
In the set of payment documents, the commercial invoice holds the central position, which is the seller’s request to the buyer to pay the amount stated on the invoice. Invoices are often issued in many copies to be used for many different purposes: presented to the bank to claim the goods, presented to the insurance company to calculate the insurance cost, presented to the customs office for taxes calculation, etc.
Normally, a commercial invoice includes the main contents as shown below:
- Name and address of exporter and importer
- Reference number, tax base, place and date of issue
- Delivery conditions
- Terms of payment and handing over documents
- Description of goods
- Quantity of goods
- Total amount to be paid by importer
- Details of freight and insurance fees
- Exporter’s signature
The packing list is a declaration of all the goods packed in each package (cartons, containers, etc.) and the entire consignment being delivered. The packing list is made by the producer/exporter and usually issued in 03 copies.
Contents of packing list:
- Seller’s name
- Buyer’s name
- Commercial invoice number
- Sequence number of the parcel
- Packing method
- The volume of each package
- Net weight and gross weight of each package
- Total number of packages within this shipment
Certificate of Origin
Certificate of Origin (C/O) is a document issued by a manufacturer or a competent authority (Department of Commerce/Ministry of Commerce) to identify the place of goods production or exploitation.
Purposes of C/O:
- Confirming the place of production
- Determining the import and export tax rates between countries that offer each other preferential trade and tariff regulations.
- In terms of social and political purposes, donor countries require aid-receiving countries to import from their own countries.
- For the market related purposes. It happens when importers prioritize buying goods originating from reputable countries to gain quality assurance.
Certificate of Quantity/Weight
Certificate of Quantity/Weight is a document confirming the quantity/weight of the goods actually delivered. The certificate of quantity/weight can be issued by the supplier or by the goods inspection organization, depending on the terms in the contract.
When agreeing on certificates of quantity/weight, it is important to carefully consider the final certificates because these play a decisive role in resolving disputes that arise later.
Certificate of Quality
A certificate of quality is a document confirming the quality of the goods actually delivered that is in accordance with the terms of the contract.
The quality certificate can be issued by the goods supplier or the goods inspection agency, depending on the agreement between the parties in the contract.
In addition to the above documents, under certain circumstances, some other documents are also required, including:
- Inspection Certificate
- Veterinary Certificate
- Phytosanitary Certificate
- Sanitary Certificate
- Insurance Documents (Insurance Policy, Insurance Certificate)