When venturing into international trade, whether importing or exporting, the right documentation is crucial. Missing or inaccurate documents can increase risks, lead to delays and extra costs, or even prevent a deal from being completed. Whether you are importing or exporting, you need to understand what documentation is required.  There should be a clear written contract between buyer and seller, including details of exactly where the goods will be delivered. Specific documents may be needed to get the goods through customs and to work out the right duty and tax charges. There may be requirements both for the country the goods are being exported from and the country they are being imported into. Documentation is needed to cover the transport of the goods and insurance during the journey. And, the right documentation can be an important part of the payment mechanism.

The most common exporting documents include: a commercial invoice, an exporting packing list, and a pro forma invoice. Transportation documents include: an airway bill or a bill of lading. Your business may need to obtain an export license and destination control statement to be in compliance with federal law. A certificate of origin is also required  by some countries for all or certain products. There are numerous other export-related documents that may also be required depending on your circumstances.

The most common importing documents include:  an entry manifest presented to the U.S. Customs Border and Protection agency (CBP), or an application and special permit for immediate delivery or other form of merchandise release required by the port director, evidence of right to make entry, commercial invoice or a pro forma invoice when the commercial invoice cannot be produced, packing lists, if appropriate,  and other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility. The entry of the goods must also be accompanied by evidence that a surety bond has been posted with the CBP.

U.S. International Trade Law is governed by Title 19 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, the CBP Bulletin and decisions, and international treaties. If you are interested in importing goods or services into the U.S. or exporting goods or services abroad, contact Subhan Law Office, LLC, to assist you with import and export compliance at 414-223-5718 or toll free at 1-855-946-6848.  We are here to help you succeed in the global marketplace.