Our reliance on Europe for export demand is declining, with export volumes to non-EU countries rising by more than 30% since 2009. So said a report by RBS in March 2013, and if this is the case then more exporters will need to provide the additional information which is required to ship their goods beyond the EU.
If you are shipping goods within the EU then the invoice produced by your business system may be sufficient to get your goods to their destination and for you to get paid. For non-EU destinations, the use of three key export documents to provide clear and accurate information, will give more certainty that your goods will arrive without any surprises. These documents are the Export Invoice, also known as the Commercial or Customs Invoice, the Export Packing List and the ECSI (Export Cargo Shipping Instructions).
Export OR Commercial Invoice
The Commercial Invoice is a very important document since it provides all the information required by Customs. Unlike your normal payment invoice the Commercial Invoice contains more detailed information about your shipment, the parties to the transaction, terms of delivery and payment, ancillary costs such as freight and insurance and a value for customs purposes. Further detailed information is required about the goods themselves, including a full description of the goods including the item price, the country of origin of the goods, net weights and dimensions, the tariff code and transport details.
Customs authorities use the commercial invoice to verify the details of the consignment, and it is therefore good practice that the invoice has a signed and dated declaration that the facts provided are true and correct. Since Customs also use information on the Commercial Invoice for identifying duty payable, any freight and insurance charges should be shown separately, since they may not be subject to duty.
For some countries there are specific requirements on the layout, form or content of the invoice and the declarations. These Combined Invoice and Certificate of Value and Origin are sometimes required for Nigeria (C13) and Ghana (C61). These documents are used by the importing authorities and, particularly if they are a requirement of a letter of credit, it is important that they are the correct format and contain the right information, to ensure your goods don’t get held up by Customs.
Export Packing List
The Export Packing List provides precise details of what is in each package, pallet or container, Sometimes the packing list can be combined with the Commercial Invoice since much of the information is on that document.
If there is any doubt that the Commercial Invoice contains all the required information then it is good practice to provide a separate Packing List since Customs Authorities in the target country have the right to delay the clearance of the shipment until the importer provides a Packing List reflecting the real contents of the container. So if in doubt provide a Packing List as you can never give too much information.
Export Cargo Shipping Instructions
The ECSI is a multi purpose document giving specific instructions about export services required and responsibility for the charges during the transit of your goods.
The use of the ECSI is good exporting practice as in cases of disagreement over cargo handling procedures, export documentation or responsibility for export charges, a properly completed ECSI can be the source document for the resolution of the dispute.
Creating these Export Documents
The information which you create as an exporter, will be used by someone else to provide their import information. If you provide that information on paper, then someone will probably have to re-key that data into another system to clear their import. So why not share that information with them online? Save some trees, reduce some postage or courier costs and best of all save time.
That’s what e-z exporting is all about and the e-z range of services is growing. The starting point for e-z exporting is e-z Consign, the online service where you create the data once, and then use it for any SITPRO/UN export documents or Customs services you need to use.
If don’t want to re-key the data you are already holding in your business system then you can send the shipment data to GTA in order to produce these key export documents and you can use the same data to obtain Customs Clearance online.