10. Transportation and Documentation 152
Certiﬁcate of Origin
A certiﬁcate of origin is a document that declares the country where
a good in a particular international shipment originated—i.e., where
a manufacturing process last substantially transformed the good.
Even though the commercial invoice usually includes a statement
of origin, some countries require that a separate certiﬁcate of origin
be completed. Customs ofﬁces will use this document to determine
which duty rate to assess on the products being imported.
Often, “C of O”s are required by importers to avoid paying import tariffs—and in fact, they have
become especially common due to a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that the United States
has negotiated with other countries.
• For example: a NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) certiﬁcate of origin should be
used for products exported to Canada or Mexico only if they meet the NAFTA rules of origin for
production. Being in compliance with the agreement ensures that the products you are exporting
are exempted from all, or most, import duties. Learn more about NAFTA.
• For a list of regional and bilateral FTAs, go online to the Ofﬁce of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The United States currently has FTAs with 17 countries. Export.gov offers answers to Frequently
Asked Questions about free trade agreements.
Learn about who issues Certiﬁcates of Origin.
An insurance certiﬁcate is used to assure the consignee that insurance will cover the loss of, or
damage to, the cargo during transit. Typically, marine insurance coverage equal to 110% of the
commercial invoice amount must be obtained for export shipments.
If you plan to export infrequently, you may be able to buy insurance through your freight forwarder.
Inspection certiﬁcates often are required by foreign customs or businesses for certain regulated
products. These are typically related to agriculture, health or the environment. Inspection certiﬁcates
also may be required to ensure that vessels or crates are free of contaminants before entering
certain ports, or that the products met the speciﬁcations outlined in a contract or purchase order.
• Depending on the product, certiﬁcates may be issued by various government agencies—such
as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Environmental
Protection Agency—or by third-party inspection companies.
Documentation must be precise. Even slight discrepancies or omissions may prevent merchandise
from being exported, resulting in nonpayment or even resulting in the seizure of your goods by U.S.
or foreign government customs.
It is important to note that collection documents are subject to precise time limits and may not be
honored by a bank if the time has expired.
Certiﬁcates of origin (“C of O”s)
are particularly important when
exporters/importers wish to take
advantage of preferential duty rates
offered through U.S. free trade
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10. Transportation and Documentation 153
• Collection documents are the documents that are stipulated by the buyer and are required to
receive payment based on documentary collection. They may include the certiﬁcate of origin, proof
of insurance, or certiﬁcate of inspection, but they must include an invoice and the bill of lading.
• A documentary collection differs from a typical “cash on delivery” transaction in two ways. The
bank handles the transaction (instead of an individual, shipper, or postal service/COD); and cash
is paid for delivery of a title document (e.g., bill of lading) instead of the actual goods. This title
document is then used to claim the goods from the shipper.
Documents Used during Inland Movement of Goods
As an exporter, you are responsible for providing your freight
forwarder with the necessary information regarding your
shipment. The more details you provide, the greater the
chances your goods will move free of problems. Your freight
forwarder can provide you with a commonly used form for
noting shipper’s instructions.
Inland Bill of Lading
Inland bills of lading document the transportation of goods between inland points and the port at
which the export will arrive/depart.
• Rail shipments use “waybills on rail.”
• Truck shipments use “pro forma” bills of lading.
The Delivery Instructions document is prepared by the freight forwarder. It provides information for
the trucking or railroad company as to where the goods are to be delivered.
A Dock Receipt transfers shipping obligations from the domestic to the international carrier. It goes
into effect when the shipment reaches the terminal.
Bill of Lading/Air Waybill
Marine bills of lading are evidence of title (ownership) of the goods; an air waybill is not.
However, both set forth the international carrier’s responsibility to transport the goods to their
There are two types of marine (or “ocean”) bills of lading used to transfer ownership:
• Straight (nonnegotiable) Bill of Lading: provides for delivery of goods only to the person named in
the bill of lading and must be marked “non-negotiable”;
• Shipper’s Order (negotiable): provides for delivery of goods to the person named in the bill of
lading, or anyone else who is designated. The Shipper’s Order is used with draft or Letter of Credit
shipments and enables the bank involved in the export transaction to take title to the goods if the
buyer defaults. The bank will not release title of the goods to the buyer until payment is received,
and will not release funds to you until conditions of sale have been satisﬁed.
Documents Used during Inland
Movement of Goods—
• Shipper’s Instructions
• Inland Bill of Lading
• Delivery Instructions
• Dock Receipts
• Bill of Lading/Air Waybill
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10. Transportation and Documentation 154
When using air freight, “air waybills” take the place of bills of lading.
• Air waybills are issued only in nonnegotiable form. As such, you and the bank lose title to the
goods once the shipment commences.
• Most air waybills also contain a customs declaration form.
Goods shipped for export require substantially greater handling than domestic shipments. You must
pack the goods to ensure that:
• Weight and measurements are kept to a minimum;
• Breakage is avoided;
• The container is theft proof; and
• Goods do not suffer from the stresses of ocean shipment, such as excess moisture.
In addition to proper packing, you should be aware that certain markings are necessary on goods
Typical Required Markings:
• Country of origin: Some countries require that the country of origin be marked on the outside of
the container, and may even have regulations as to how the mark of origin should appear.
• Labeling: Food and drugs often must carry special labeling as determined by the laws of the
country of destination.
• Weight and dimensions: These should be visible and any special instructions should be shown;
you may wish to include translations of these instructions in the language of the importer’s country.
If your business is not equipped to package your goods for export, there are export packaging
companies that can perform this service for you.
• For more information, ask your international freight forwarder for a list of export packaging
companies in your area.
There are several considerations for preparing to ship your product overseas. These include
requirements for certain products, such as hazardous materials, and regulations depending on
your method of shipping, whether by air, sea, rail or truck. Learn more at SBA’s Transportation and
Also visit export.gov for information on Shipping Your Product Overseas.
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10. Transportation and Documentation 155
Temporary Export Licenses and ATA Carnets
An ATA Carnet is a special customs document that provides temporary, duty-free admission into
countries for commercial samples, scientiﬁc equipment, education materials, and goods for exhibit.
The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) can advise you on the need for a temporary export
ATA Carnets are made available through the International Chamber of Commerce and associated
organizations. In the United States, the program is administered by the U.S. Council for International
Business in New York City.
Temporary importation provisions are an important tool for companies that want to demonstrate their
products in foreign markets or for professionals bringing “tools of the trade” into a foreign country for
a limited period of time.
Companies have several options when considering temporary importation. These include:
• ATA Carnets
• Temporary Importation Bonds (TIBs)
• Entry with duty drawback
There is also provision for bringing tools of trade allowed for in the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). The ATA Carnet system is the most user-friendly system of temporary
importation; however, there are a number of countries that do not accept carnets. In these countries,
companies can post TIBs or apply for a duty drawback as an alternative means to duty-free
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10. Transportation and Documentation 156
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You can experience a wide variety of training webinars and podcasts, all of which are designed to
prepare you for export success and foster your business growth. Many online reference materials are
also available to you.
The Small Business Administration Training Network is an “online campus” that includes workshops,
publications and technical assistance on:
• Finance and Accounting
• Business Planning
• Starting a Business
• Business Management
• Government Contracting
• Surviving a Slow Economy
• Marketing and Advertising
Also, be sure to check out the popular online course “Taking Your Business Global”.
The SBA YouTube Channel includes a variety of tutorials and case studies on small business. Be sure
to check out the exciting overview of exporting, Where Will Your Next Customer Come From?.
SBA’s extensive selection of podcasts cover a wide range of small business challenges and solutions.
You can download/listen to the podcasts, or read their accompanying transcripts.
Online Training, Videos & Podcasts
The following online library of resources can to assist your business in entering and competing in the
• Inc. Magazine Video Series
• Training: Global Enterprise—A Primer on Exporting
• Training: Take Your Business Global
• Video: Where Will Your Next Customer Come From?
• Video: Strategies for Growth: Export Opportunities
• Podcast: Where Will Your Next Customer Come From? Look Around the World
• Podcast: Competing in the Global Market: SBA’s International Trade Program
• Podcast: Exporting to Russia
• Podcast: Exporting to Bahrain
• Podcast: Exporting to Cameroon
• Podcast: Exporting to Uganda
• Export University 101 Webinar
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Check out the wealth of online exporting information and resources at the Small Business Administration.
For more information:
• Export Working Capital Program—A Fact Sheet for Small Businesses
• Export Loan Programs
• Financing Your Small Business Exports, Foreign Investments or Projects
• SBA Export Express—A Fact Sheet for Small Businesses
• U.S. Export Assistance Centers
• 6 Steps to Begin Exporting
• What kind of technical assistance does SBA offer to exporters?
• I have a small business and need a relatively small loan to expand my export sales. Are there any
SBA programs that can help me?
Export.gov has a variety of live and recorded webinars covering a variety of topics, both beginner and
• View the export.gov training calendar.
• If you have any questions regarding a speciﬁc live webinar, please contact the trade specialist or
partner listed for that speciﬁc webinar.
• You may also access a variety of recorded webinars available to assist you, in your location, at a
time that is convenient for you. These webinars include both beginner and advanced topics.
Explore archived webinars at export.gov.
Basic Export Training
The following resources will prepare you to start exporting your products and services overseas.
• Getting Started: This landing page includes links to readiness assessment, business planning,
training materials, and more.
• Guide to Exporting: This guide, available for purchase from the Department of Commerce, explains
exporting basics such as identifying markets, ﬁnancing export transactions, and handling orders.
• Export Basics: A primer to help you assess your business’s export readiness, understand what
you need to know and consider before pursuing an international sales strategy, and, when you are
ready, develop and implement your export strategy.
• Exporter’s Guide to Trade Agreements: A list of all trade agreements affecting U.S. businesses in
the international marketplace.
Finding Business Opportunities
• Advocacy Assistance for U.S. Exporters: What You Need to Know
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center has helped hundreds of U.S. companies—
small, medium and large enterprises—in various industry sectors win government contracts across
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• U.S. Trade and Development Agency: Info for U.S. Exporters
Find out about current contracting opportunities with USTDA grant recipients in host countries.
• Trade Mission Online
A searchable database of U.S. small businesses that wish to export their products. As a small
business, you canregister or update your proﬁle . It is also a search engine for foreign ﬁrms and
U.S. businesses seeking a U.S. business partner or supplier.
For Beginners: Exporting 101
National Small Business Week Export Forum: Customers, Proﬁt$, Jobs and Growth–Take Your
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Commercial Service have partnered to offer a selection of
recorded videos on YouTube:
1. Export Compliance Introduction
2. A Quick Guide to Foreign Trade Regulations
3. Classifying Your Commodity
4. Registering for AESDirect
5. Filing a Shipment in AESDirect
6. Response Messages from AES
7. Proof of Filing Citations (AESDirect)
8. North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
9. NAFTA Certiﬁcates of Origin (Part I)
10. NAFTA Certiﬁcates of Origin (Part II)
11. Preference Criterion (NAFTA)
12. NAFTA Rules of Origin
13. Taxes and Tariffs
14. What is a Freight Forwarder?
15. Exporting Commercial Items: ECCNs and
16. Exporting EAR99 Items: Screening Your
Transaction, Lists to Check and Red Flag
17. USA Trade Online
18. Elimination of the SSN in the AES
19. The Commerce Control List and Self
Export Controls and Licenses
Most export transactions do not require speciﬁc approval in the form of licenses from the U.S.
government, although regulations regarding all exports must be followed. To determine whether a
license is needed to export a particular commercial product or service, you must ﬁrst classify the item
by identifying what is called itsExport Control Classiﬁcation Number (ECCN).
For general information on export licensing and regulations, visitExport.gov—Regulations and
Licenses. In addition, several otherfederal agencieshave speciﬁc export licensing requirements. The
following resources provide further information on export controls and licensing:
• Export Controls and Licensing Requirements: An Introduction
This page is designed to give people who are new to exporting, and, in particular, new to export
controls, a general understanding of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regulations and how
to use them.
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• Export Licensing Guidance
This section is designed to assist visitors through the export licensing process and provides
important information that individuals and ﬁrms need to know before exporting, including essential
publications, frequently-asked questions, and forms.
• U.S. Export Controls and Licensing: Training and Seminars
The Bureau of Industry and Security offers a wide range of export control workshops, from
complying with U.S. export controls to training sessions for freight forwarders and help in initiating
an export management system.
• U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security: Export Policies and Regulations
This site provides links to regulations governing exports of dual-use commodities, software, and
technology. It also includes discussions of certain key regulatory policy areas, including policies
governing exports of high-performance computers, exports of encryption products, deemed
exports, U.S. anti-boycott regulations, special regional considerations, the multilateral export
control regimes, and the technical advisory committees.
• Governmental Rejections
This page provides guidelines for why goods may be rejected by the government of an importer’s
country, including bans on goods and labeling.
The exporting of technology has its own set of rules and regulations.Technology and Source Code
Exports (Deemed Export Rule)answers frequently-asked questions about exporting technology and
The European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection prohibits the transfer of personal
data to non–European Union nations that do not meet the European “adequacy” standard for
privacy protection. TheSafe Harbor Portalprovides assistance to U.S. companies trying to avoid
interruptions in their business dealings with the European Union countries or facing prosecution by
European authorities under European privacy laws.
Also see: The Safe Harbor Program: Understand Data Privacy Laws When Doing Business in the
European Union — a general overview of the Safe Harbor Program, its beneﬁts, and how your
business can participate.
Financing Your Small Business Exports
Many small businesses think they are too small to compete in the world market. In fact, 97% of all
exporters are small businesses. The federal government has loans, insurance and grant programs to
help you become an exporter or expand your exporting business.
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Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested