export documentation

Get Your Documents In Place : An Import Export Documentation Checklist

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As pioneers and professors of the trade business, the most frequent and the most common question we get asked is – What are the import documents needed? What are the Export Documentation required? Is there a set import and export procedure to be followed in India?

Hence, we decided to answer all your questions one at a time beginning from the first one i.e., a complete and in-depth checklist of all the required for import export documentation for your trade business.

A note of caution here: All the items for export and import vary and are categorized into different sections and hence the documents specific to the import/ export of these items might also be different.

But overall, the list given below remains the same and can be followed. So, let’s get started!

Export documentation checklist and document details-

  • Shipping Bill- Primarily the most important document required by the Customs Authority to allow shipment is the Shipping Bill. The major details mentioned in this document are the buyer, seller, shipowner amongst others.
  • Customs Declaration Form – A Customs declaration form lists the details of goods that are being imported or exported when a citizen or visitor enters the country’s borders.
  • Dispatch Note- This document mentions the action required to be taken in case the item couriered is refused or if the address stated is wrong.
  • Commercial Invoice- The commercial invoice is a legal document between the exporter and the customer that clearly describes the goods sold, and the amount due on the customer. It is one of the main documents used by customs in determining customs duties.
  • Customs Invoice- Countries like the USA, Canada, etc. majorly need this document. It is prepared on a special form being presented by the Customs authorities of the importing country. It facilitates the entry of goods in the importing country at a preferential tariff rate.
  • Legalized Invoice- It is a document demonstrating the genuineness of a seller in front of the required authority.
  • Certified Invoice- Some countries need certified invoices, specifically when goods are being shipped against a letter of credit. These are invoices that are certified by a Chamber of Commerce before goods are dispatched. Exporters present the invoice to a Chamber of Commerce, which then stamps the document. The exporter lodges authorized signatures with local chambers that verify the signature before stamping the document.
  • Packing List- The nitty-gritty of the contents of your export are represented in this document.
  • Certificate of Inspection- This certificate is proof that the items contained are inspected and in acceptable condition.
  • Black List Certificate- In the case of two countries not sharing a cordial relationship, this certificate is needed. It certifies that the export vehicle has not been to any of these countries on its journey. It also verifies that the goods are not exported from any of these countries.
  • Certificate of Chemical Analysis- In the case of exporting metals, pigments, dyes or other such chemical products this certificate is required to ensure the quality of these products.
  • Certificate of Shipment- It is a document that certifies that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country.
  • Shipping Order- A Shipping Order (SO) is a document issued by the carrier that confirms a shipment’s booking on a vessel. An SO will contain details such as the location of the empty container for pickup, and booking details like the vessel number and sailing time.
  • Cart Ticket- A cart ticket is also known as a cart chit. This is prepared by the exporter, which contains the details of the vehicle number, description of goods, quantity, name of the shipper, shipping bib number, and port of destination.
  • Shipment Form- It is an application to the customs authorities at the port that advises the short shipment of goods required for claiming the return.

There are certain additional documents that may be required at the time of export but they are subject to change. For now, let us have a

Look at the import documentation checklist and document details-

  • Bill of Entry- A bill of entry is a legal document that is filed by importers or customs clearance agents on or before the arrival of imported goods. It has details such as Packages and Quantity, Customs Duty, Additional Duty, and IGST mentioned in it.

Once it is filed, the customs officials examine the goods and give a ‘pass out the order’. After this, the goods can be moved out of customs.

  • Commercial Invoice- This is one of the most important documents required during customs clearance. The quantity of items is then assessed for their value and cross-checked thereafter. This prevents over-invoicing or under-invoicing.
  • Bill of Landing- This document mentions the details of the carrier and the terms of delivery.
  • Import License- This document might not be needed to import all the products but for the import of certain specific products it is necessary.
  • Insurance Certificate- For customs officials to assess if the selling price of an item includes insurance as well, this document is important.
  • Purchase Order (PO) – This is the most important document required for customs clearance since it contains most of the necessary details required for assessment.
  • Supporting literature (if any) – In the case of import of technical items like machines, the functions of different parts need to be mentioned in a separate report.


Having mentioned all of these, there are some other documents required but those are case-specific.

The import export procedure in India is smooth if you have the necessary documents in place and are well-versed with the process. But if you are new to the trade market, then there can be hiccups in the way and you must consult someone experienced in this profession beforehand. We at Impexperts, have 38+ years of expertise in this domain in addition to a huge global trade network. We provide all the possible trade services present under the sun from consulting and advising to business setup and trading. So, if you are someone who is looking for any such service, get in touch with us!

Vaibhav Sharma

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