10. Transportation and Documentation 150
Documents Prepared Before the Shipment
Commercial Invoice/Consular Invoice
After the pro forma invoice is accepted, you must prepare a
commercial invoice. This is necessary for both you and your
• The description of the goods on the commercial invoice
must correspond exactly to the description in the Letter
of Credit or other method of payment. There can be no
• Your customer needs the commercial invoice, since it is
often used by customs authorities to assess duties.
It is common practice to prepare a commercial invoice in both English and in the language of the
country of destination. Your freight forwarder can advise you when a translated copy is necessary. In
some countries, the commercial invoice must be prepared on a special form known as a “customs
invoice.” Your customer may request this of you.
Similar to a commercial invoice, a consular invoice is required by certain countries. It is used for
customs clearance and other purposes, and must be prepared in the language of the destination
country. It can be obtained from the consulate of the country to which you are exporting, and it
often must be “consularized,” or authenticated/certiﬁed. Consularization is most common in South
America and the Middle East; requirements vary by country. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), for
example, require that shipping documents be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State.
Find out more about Common Export Documents at export.gov.
Visit the U.S. Department of State for a list of Consuls and Embassies in the U.S.
Export controls are based on the type of goods being shipped and their ultimate destination. While
most exports do not require a license, it is your legal obligation to seek an ofﬁcial determination from
the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
• Technically, most exports are shipped under a “No License Required” (NLR) classiﬁcation, which is
a self-certiﬁcation that a license is not required.
• Should your particular export be subject to export controls, a “validated” license must be obtained.
In general, your export would require a “validated” license if export of the goods would threaten
U.S. national security, affect certain foreign policies of the United States or create short supply in
To determine whether your product needs an export license, you must have the Export Commodities
Classiﬁcation Number (ECCN) for your product. An ECCN is assigned to products that require a
license at their ultimate destination or if required due to the nature of the product itself–for example,
if the product has dual use as a civic and military item.
• If your freight forwarder cannot provide you with the ECCN, you may be able to obtain it from the
manufacturer, producer or developer of your product if it has been exported before, and you are
not the producer.
• The Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce can also help you
obtain an ECCN.
Before the Shipment—
• Commercial Invoice/Consular Invoice
• Export License
• Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)
• Export Packing List
• Certiﬁcate of Origin
• Insurance Certiﬁcate
• Inspection Certiﬁcate
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