Export documentation plays a vital role in international marketing as it facilitates the smooth flow of goods and payments thereof across national frontiers. A number of documents accompany every shipment. These documents must be properly and correctly filled. Export documentation is, however, complex as the number of documents to be filled in is large, so also is the number of concerned authorities to whom the relevant documents are to be submitted. Moreover documents required differ from country to country.
Incorrect documents may lead to non delivery of goods to the importer. You may get the correct documents after some time but in the meantime storage charges may have to be paid. More important, the importer will think twice before importing from the same exporter.
It is therefore, advisable to take the help of shipping and forwarding agents who will obtain fill out the documents correctly as well as arrange for transportation. But every exporter should have an adequate knowledge about export documents and procedures.
On the basis of the functions to be performed, export documents can be classified under four categories:
1. Commercial Documents: These include commercial invoices, bills of exchange bills of lading, letters of credit, marine insurance policy and certificates etc.
2. Regulatory Documents: These are the documents which are required for complying with the rules and regulations governing export trade transactions such as foreign exchange regulations, customs formalities export inspection etc.
3. Export Assistance Documents: These are the documents which are required for claiming assistance under the various export assistance measures as may be in operation from time to time. Presently these refer to drawbacks of Central excise and customs duties, packing credit facilities etc,
4. Documentation required by importing Countries. These are the documents which are required by the importer in order to satisfy the requirements of his government. These include certificates of origin, consular invoice, quality control certificate etc.
Export documents could be classified into two categories depending upon the specific requirements satisfied by them: (1) Regulatory and (2) Operational.
An exporter has to follow strictly the regulation of both the exporting country as well as that of the importing country. For example, there is exchange control in India. Therefore when we export goods, we have to give an undertaking to the RBI that we shall realize the foreign exchange in lieu of the goods exported. We do this by submitting GR form, and it is obvious that we cannot export unless we submit this document. Then there are certain commodities which are subject to export regulation. We have to obtain a licence for exporting the controlled commodities. Thus, another document has necessarily to be used. In order to build up an image of Indian goods abroad there is a system of compulsory pre-shipment inspection and quality control of a number of export goods. The exporter has to obtain an inspection certificate. This gives rise to still another document. There are a number of importing countries which stipulate that the exporter must submit certain specified documents duly certified by their missions in the exporting country. This condition makes it essential the use of the consular invoice and in some cases the use of the legalized invoice. There are countries specially the Commonwealth countries and also those developed countries which have offered concessions to the developing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences which demand that the exporters must submit a certificate of origin. Thus, the exporter has to submit GR form, export licence inspection certificate, consular invoice, legalized invoice and certificate of origin. These are examples of regulatory documents.
The customs authorities are charged with the responsibility of verifying compliance on the part of the exporters with all types of regulations in force in the country. For their own record purposes, they have devised the Shipping bill. No shipping company or airline will accept any export cargo unless the customs authorities have granted their permission on the shipping bill. Along with the shipping bill, commercial invoices and packing lists are also to be submitted.