International Shipping Customs Documents

Customs Official Inspecting International Cargo

When you travel internationally, we all know that it is essential to get your documents right. International shipping is no different. Please read this guide carefully to ensure you prepare the customs clearance documents correctly.

Commercial Invoice

Are you shipping documents, for example, letters, contracts, magazines or similar? If so, you can skip to the next section.

A Commercial Invoice must be completed, submitted and signed by the owner or sender of the goods. You can download a template here.

It is essential that you accurately provide the following information:

Description of Goods – This information will be reviewed by customs. You should describe what you are shipping, what it is made from and what it is used for.

Value of Goods – Even if you are shipping samples or items of low value, simply list the accurate cost of production. Otherwise provide an accurate valuation in this field.

Country of Origin – This refers to the country where the item(s) were produced. This can be different to the country you are sending from.

Intercoms – Intercoms terms let customs authorities identify the owner of the shipment at every moment in its journey. Commonly used terms include:

  • EXW Ex Works – the seller delivers when they have made the goods available to the buyer at the sellers premises or other location. All shipping and clearances are the responsibility of the buyer.
  • DAP Delivered At Place – the seller delivers when they have made the goods available to the buyer at the the buyers premises or other location. The seller is responsible for all shipping and clearances.

Refer to Incoterms® 2010 or your customs agent for further information.

Harmonised Tariff Codes (Optional) – classifies goods so customs authorities know which taxes, duties, and controls may apply.

Barcoded Label(s) & Consignment Note

In addition to the completed and signed Commercial Invoice, you must:

  1. Print out and attach your barcoded Label(s) to your item(s).
  2. Print out, sign and attach your Consignment Note. There may be multiple copies, be sure to sign each one.

Smoother customs clearances

Be sure to follow the instructions above to reduce the risk of your item(s) being detained in customs. Failure to get the process right may result in fines or penalties, so if you’re in doubt, please do get in touch.