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Some of the basic documents

Bills of Lading

A bill of lading (B/L) is used for sea shipment or  and is a certificate of ownership of goods. It must be produced by the exporter and importer in order to claim goods.

It is a receipt signed by the carrier confirming whether goods matching the contract description have been received in good condition (a bill will be described as clean if the goods have been received on board in apparent good condition and stowed ready for transport.The ship owner thus accepts full liability for the cargo described in the bill.

 

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are used as a customs declaration to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs tariffs. Governments that use the commercial invoices to control imports will often specify its cargo name,quantities,packing,terms of payment, as well as other important details.

Insurance Certificate

An insurance certificate is a representation of the insurance policy taken out by the buyer or the seller (depending on the Incoterms) for a shipment.

• Blank insurance certificates are supplied by the insurer pre-signed and bearing the open policy number of the exporter. For an air shipment, an air waybill serves as an insurance certificate.

• For a sea shipment, an insurance certificate is issued as evidence of the existence of the marine insurance policy.

• The marine insurance policy is a contract between the insured and the insurer which defines the terms of the agreement between the insured and the insurer.

Packing List

The packing list indicates the number of items in the contents of each pack, along with individual weights and dimensions. This list enables you to check that the correct number of units has been received. Customs authorities can also easily identify a specific pack if they wish to inspect.

Letters of Credit

In simple terms, a letter of credit is an undertaking by a bank to make a payment to a named beneficiary(supplier) within a specified time, against the presentation of documents which comply strictly with the terms of the letter of credit.

Letters of credit are used primarily in international trade, for deals between a supplier in one country and a customer in another.

Its main advantage is providing security to both the exporter and the importer, but the security offered, however, comes at a price and must be weighed against the additional costs resulting from bank charges. The exporter must understand the conditional nature of the letter of credit and the fact that payment will not be made unless the terms of the credit are met precisely.

A letter of credit is opened by an importer (applicant), to ensure that the documentation requested reflects and proves that the seller has performed under the requirements of the underlying sales contract, by the exporter by making them conditions of the letter of credit (N.B. The sales contract is not an inherent part of the Letter of Credit, although the Letter of Credit may contain a reference to such contract). For the exporter a letter of credit, apart from cash in advance, is the most secure method of payment in international trade as long as the terms of the credit are met.


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