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Secrets of International Trade



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Part 2

Part 3



"Countries that require a 'consular invoice' also require a 'commercial invoice' as proof of your export shipment"

When a firm sells its goods abroad, it must arrange for each export shipment to be accompanied by various documents.

Depending on the country to which the goods are being sent, these documents will include some or all of the following: packing list, health certificate, import license, insurance certificate and...

Consular invoice Commercial invoice
Certificate of origin Bill of lading

In general, their purpose is to provide the foreign Customs authority with a complete, detailed description of the goods so that the correct import duty can be levied.

Sometimes they are required for the administration of exchange control regulations or import quotas and depending on the product, to safeguard public and animal health and prevent the spread of plant diseases.



  Statistical information about a country's imports is also based on these documents. Failure to complete the forms properly may lead to a fine and/or unnecessary delay in clearing the goods through foreign Customs.

If the information given is found false, heavier fines may be imposed and/or the goods confiscated.

The preparation of such documentation is one of the tasks of an export firm's or of a shipping agent, known as a freight forwarder whose services may be employed for a fee.

In addition to the documents required by the foreign country, the exporter must also provide an export declaration.

Consular Invoice

This is a form, usually obtainable only from the Consulate of the importing country, on which the exporter or its agent must enter a detailed description of the goods being shipped. Such a form is required by certain countries.

On the consular invoice, there is space not only for the name of the goods but also for any marks carried, the number of the items, their weight, the value and origin of the goods and a declaration that the information given is correct.

There must be no erasures or "strike-over" in typing, pen-and-ink changes, or additions.

In some countries, the goods must be described in terms of the customs tariff of the importing country and the tariff number of the items given. For more information.

Recommended further reading : Export Trade Barriers. These barriers represent an extra cost of doing business that can be built into the price.

Most countries requiring consular invoice also insist that the document be "legalized" that is, have its accuracy sworn to by the exporter or its agent at the consulate of the importing country.




Commercial Invoice

Commercial Invoice is the export firm's invoice, addressed to the foreign importer describing the goods shipped and the total price that it must pay.

However, some countries require the commercial invoice to be prepared on their own forms. Such forms are sometimes called customs invoices.

Countries that require a consular invoice also require a commercial invoice as additional proof of the details of the export shipment.

Countries that do not require a consular invoice, uses the commercial invoice as the document upon which the import duty is based.

The exporter may also sometimes be asked, when providing an export quotation for the foreign buyer, to supply a pro forma commercial invoice.

This document shows the foreign buyer what the commercial invoice will look like if the foreign buyer places the order. The exchange authorities in the foreign country sometimes require it before an import license is issued.

Certificate of Origin

Certificate of Origin is a document, which indicates the country in which the goods were produced, is required whenever preferential duties are claimed.

Sometime, consular legalization of the document is necessary. Also, certification of the document by a Chamber of Commerce is required.




Part 1/3 <This Page
Export documentations, consular invoice, commercial invoice & certificate of origin

Part 2/3
About Certificate of Value, bill of lading & cargo manifest?

Part 3/3
About Health certificate, import license, insurance certificate & export declaration form?

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