Import Documents

International shipping has a set of rules. When getting ready to into the United States, you will need to submit a set of documents to US customs for clearance of your cargo before entering the US. Getting your import document can be easy. There are only a few documents that will always be required, but you should check to be sure others are not required for your specific commodity. This includes the commercial invoice, the packing list, certificate of origin, and a bill of lading.

The commercial invoice is the actual invoice from your vendor. It should have the total quantities listed as well as costs and is the proof that your vendor has sold you the goods. The packing list is a document that has all goods listed singly to show exactly what is in the shipping container. The certificate of origin is just that: a certificate that certifies the origin of the goods. And the bill of lading is your master bill from either your NVOCC or the steamship line. The one you get from your freight forwarder is a house bill meant to show your freight costs. You will need an original bill of lading in order to clear customs.

Outside of these documents you may need additional documents depending on your commodity. Whether its is textiles from requiring quotas or inspection certificates for goods from your origin, you will need to be sure to know the documents for your specific cargo before attempting to import.