If you trade internationally, you will have to comply with additional documentary requirements to those you used for domestic trade. Exactly what those documents are will depend upon:
If in doubt as to which documents you need, see:
The Importance of IncoTerms:
To facilitate commerce around the world, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) publishes a set of Incoterms, officially known as international commercial terms. Globally recognized, Incoterms prevent confusion in foreign trade contracts by clarifying the obligations of buyers and sellers. Parties involved in domestic and international trade commonly use them as a kind of shorthand to help understand one another and the exact terms of their business arrangements. Some Incoterms apply to any means of transportation; others apply strictly to transportation across water.
Therefore, understanding these terms is fundamental to reading, drafting and entering into international trade documentation.
In this section, we also provide links and information regarding:
If you are importing or exporting you may need assistance with customs clearance. As indicated in the Introduction to this section, Customs Brokers can provide all the information and services you need to cover your import\export customs clearance requirements – so you don’t have to worry about this.
However, you may also consider approaching ChamberCustoms, the customs clearance agent, training and advisory service delivered through Chambers of Commerce across the UK. ChamberCustoms are different from other customs broker services by harnessing the reach, expertise and knowledge of the British Chambers of Commerce network to offer an unbeatably fast, reliable and compliant service.
ChamberCustoms is the only customs broker with direct links to all air, sea and land port terminals in the UK.
Chamber Customs offers three key services:
As a first step, if exporting, your buyer should be able to tell you what their requirements are. However, you can also check the relevant requirements with:
IncoDocs - Export Documentation Templates.
IncoDocs provides a library of personalisable documents, streamlines your workflows and reduces compliance risk, empowering you and your team to focus on growing your business.
How can IncoDocs help your business?
Browse and download over 30 UNLK aligned shipping documentation templates that are used throughout global trade to ensure compliance when shipping goods Internationally. View and download Commercial Invoices, Packing Lists, Declarations, Letters of Instructions, VGMs, Sales documentation and more.
You can customise IncoDocs to meet your needs:
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Not only can you start with a free version of IncoDocs - and 14 day free trials for premium solutions (starting at $27 per month) but you also get a 15% discount on the list prices by purchasing through here (use the link at the top of the page).
All plans include:
You may also find IncoDocs' Countersigning Proforma Invoices, Purchase Orders and Sales Contracts used in Global Trade and How to Create a Packing List Document Template for Brexit of interest.
In addition to the overall support for international trade provided by HMRC , specific help can be found from the following:
Other useful information:
These resources are also supplemented by ChamberCustoms:
As also indicated in the Section dealing with Brexit, Product Codes are important elements for completing import and export documentation. They determine if any tariffs or quotas will apply to the trade. Any mistakes in these codes can result in: delays, fines or the incorrect imposition of tariffs. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to identify goods with the correct code. These codes are available via HMRC – or your freight forwarder or customs broker - or you may find it better to use Avalara's Cross Border Solution.
You can also check out Resultz's Overseas Tariff Codes and Descriptions Tool.
Product Packaging and Labelling
Any goods exported will be subject to the labelling and packaging regulations of the importing country. Therefore, these must be agreed with the importer before concluding any contract and exporting the goods concerned.
See also: Information Resources: Business Reference: Packaging & Labelling.
Export Shipping, Packaging and Marking
When exporting goods, there are different types of shipping containers available to load and transport goods. The mode of transport and the type of shipping container used mainly depends on the product’s overall packing sizes, cubic measurement or total weight. To understand different options, download the shipping container chart to view sizes and specifications of all variations of dry cargo containers, refrigerated containers, open top containers, flat rack containers and more.
Export packages need to be properly marked and labelled to meet shipping regulations, ensure proper handling, conceal the identity of the contents, and help receivers identify shipments. The buyer usually specifies export marks that should appear on the cargo, e.g.:
See also InfoDocs' "Understanding Shipping Specifications & Shipping Methods.
Exported goods face greater physical risks in transit than domestic shipments. They are more vulnerable to breakage, theft, and damage. At some ports, goods may still be loaded or unloaded in a net or by a sling, conveyor, chute, or other method, putting added strain on the package. In the hold, goods might be stacked atop each other or bump sharply against other goods in transit. Overseas, handling facilities may not be up to domestic standards, so the cargo might be dragged, pushed, rolled, or dropped. Moisture from condensation is also a danger, even if the ship’s hold is equipped with air conditioning and a dehumidifier. The cargo also might be unloaded in the rain. Some foreign ports do not have covered storage facilities.
To minimise problems: