air-freightWhen shipping international goods, you must always use the correct forms. If you start out with the wrong forms, your shipment won’t move very far and it will create lots of headaches. These delays are the simplest ones to avoid, yet one that seems to happen the most in our industry by those new to the shipment preparation process.

Be sure to use a computer whenever possible so that documents are accurate, legible and consistent. If one document contains different information on it than a prior document, you can expect it to be held up prior to shipping, in customs for clarity, or delayed at destination.

1. Commercial Invoice

CI as it is commonly referred to. This document clearly identifies the products being shipped along with a detailed description and the value of the goods, and the shipper’s information. Taxes and Duties may be assessed based on the information on this document so accuracy counts. Certificate of Origin – COA as it may be referred to. This is the document that verifies the country where the product was manufactured.

2. NAFTA Certificate of Origin

This document is used by United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico to determine if the goods imported into their countries receive a reduced or potentially an eliminated duty under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

3. Electronic Export Information

EEI as it may be referred to is formerly known as the Shipper’s Export Declaration. It is required for commodities with a value in excess of $2,500. This information is reported to the U.S. Census Bureau for compiling official U.S. export statistics and to enforce U.S. export laws.

4. Airway Bill

AWB as it may be referred to. This document serves as the contract to ship goods and contains the shipment details such as the shipper, destination, type of delivery service requested (next day air, guaranteed, FFO, etc.).

5. Always Label All Your Pieces And Packages

One of the simplest ways that packages get lost is because they don’t have proper labeling on them. This would seem simple, yet it does happen. All labels should have the shipper and the consignee’s full address on them with phone numbers. Larger orders should be on banded skids and shrink-wrapped to the pallet as well. Do not hang any part of the goods over the edges of the pallet or they may end up getting crushed.

6. Declared Value

Many items are subject to taxes and duties based on their declared value. Declared value is the selling price versus the fair market value of the goods being shipped. Ensure that this value is consistent with all documentation.