It really can’t be that difficult to produce the documents needed for your exports, can it? After all, you already produce the documents you need for your domestic trade, invoice, maybe a packing list and a delivery note. Why are export documents any different?
Maybe just one or two additional pieces of information, the weight and dimensions, or the type of packing, or a tariff number – and that is where the problem starts. How do you add those extra bits of information? A few shipping departments still solve that problem by having a typewriter hidden under a desk, enabling them to manually change the documents from the business system. But for many exporters the easiest way to add this extra information is to create Word or Excel templates and to re-key the documents, from scratch, just for export.
Now, is that one template or is it one for the Export Invoice, another for the Packing List, maybe a third one for an Advice of Shipment, and do you need a Standard Shipping Note or a Dangerous Goods Note? That sounds like a least four templates, and there are probably some more yet.
So you have completed each of the templates and have your documents ready, and now your customer has asked for a Certificate of Origin. Is that another template or are you a forward thinking company, who is using e-z Cert to apply for certified documents online? If so I guess you will key the data again into e-z Cert, although if this is a regular customer you can of course copy one you did previously and modify it, making sure you do actually change all the necessary information, otherwise it will get rejected when your chamber check it.
So your shipment is ready to go, the documents are prepared, the Certificate of Origin is ready, but you need to get customs clearance before you can ship the goods, because this consignment is going to a destination outside the EU. One option is to get your carrier to do it for you. You will need to send them all the information about your goods so that they can apply on your behalf, but maybe there is enough information on one of the documents you prepared using your templates. The carrier will charge you for this of course, and you will still be liable if they get it wrong. When CHIEF, the UK customs system has approved your shipment you will be able to move it, provided the carrier has obtained the travelling documents (SAD Copy 3) with the UCR (Unique Consignment Reference) and don’t forget to make sure that the carrier sends this information back to you as well. You will need to cross reference this with the other documents for the shipment and keep it for archive purposes.
So that’s why it takes so long! If you recognise the above scenario and want to simplify your export administration, take a look at the 4Xporters web site. If you are an occasional exporter, then our e-z products provide a simple option for you, just register online, setup your company’s private workspace (your account) and start creating export documents. If you do regular shipments and would like to use the data already in your business system, then our GTA products will provide you with a lot more integration and automation for export documents and sending data to Customs and other services.
And why does this make it easier? Key the data once, use it many times!