Main Freight Forwarding Documents in International Shipping From China: The Ultimate Guide

Main Freight Forwarding Documents in International Shipping From China

International shipping from China is a complex process that comes with a large amount of red tape.

You must adequately file your shipping paperwork with the proper authorities before your shipment can reach its destination.

Your freight forwarding agent can help you with the necessary paperwork.

However, it is best to know what’s needed, when, and where to ensure that things run smoothly.

By keeping track of your freight forwarding documentation, you will less likely encounter problems along the way.

Learn more about the documents you need in international shipping from china.

What is Freight Forwarding?

China shipping

China shipping

Importing and exporting creates profitable opportunities for businesses involved.

Freight forwarding refers to the logistics of organizing and scheduling the international movement of goods.

It is where you, as an importer/exporter, hire the service of a forwarder to perform the following activities on your behalf.

  • Container attracting
  • Freight rate negotiation
  • Documentation
  • Warehousing
  • Cargo insurance

Freight forwarding is a difficult phase in the shipping process that requires expert knowledge regarding custom standards.

You should choose a professional and reliable freight forwarder with rich industry experience.

This will help ensure convenience and minimal time and cost spent on shipping from china.

The Purpose of Freight Forwarding Documentation when Shipping from China

Proper documentation facilitates a swift clearance process with customs.

The freight forwarding documents serve the following purposes;

· Identifies the Goods you want to Ship

Freight forwarding documents often details your shipment.

The documents detail the shipment number, size, and contents inside.

This way, customs can easily identify what you’re shipping, making inspection and clearance easy.

· Act as Proof of Ownership of Goods

Freight forwarding documents show the person or business entity that is authorized to receive the products from customs.

This document allows for the change of ownership of products, allowing the importer/exporter of the products to transfer the privilege to someone else.

· Allows you to Prepare Accordingly

These documents put you in the know of your shipment details such as consignment number, the carrier name, and estimated arrival date.

This way, you can easily make delivery preparations such as handling, transport, storage, etc.

· Documentary Evidence for Claiming Compensation

Without the necessary freight forwarding documents, it’s difficult to claim and get insurance compensation.

If your goods get damaged or stolen, you must provide the right paperwork to process your claim.

· Confirms the Delivery of Goods in a Perfect Condition

Your freight forwarding documentation should help you confirm if the goods shipped are the right ones you ordered.

· Represents the Contract of Carriage

Freight forwarding documents contain the conditions that relate to the shipment.

Moreover, the document contains important details about the cargo, such as the value, weight, destination, and conditions that the transport operation will follow.

Main Elements of Freight Forwarding Documents

Freight forwarding documents play a crucial part in ensuring the easy transfer of goods from customs to the owner.

It is easy to facilitate faster transfer in cases where freight forwarding documents are elaborate and accurate.

The following are essential details that freight forwarding documents contain.

· Date of Issue

One of the most critical dates in the freight forwarding document is the date of boarding.

These dates help in the sales agreement and means of payment.

· Description of the Merchandise

You cannot ship your goods without the necessary document that describes your products.

The description of the merchandise should be specific and accurate.

It should match the invoice, packing list, and certificate of origin.

· Volume and Weight of the Cargo

The cargo’s weight and volume should be precise and accurate to avoid delays in the customs clearance process.

Practically, the freight volume and weight should be the same at the arrival time for shipment.

However, it should not coincide with the amount indicated in the shipping document.

· Payment Terms

Your shipping document should indicate the freight payment terms.

Whether the payment is to be made at the shipment destination or in advance before embarking on shipping.

· Corresponding Signatures

The carrier or the agent must sign the freight forwarding document.

They should be responsible for the cargo during the entire shipping process.

· Notices

The shipping process takes time.

The document should provide a receiver’s contact details once the shipment arrives.

This person to be notified can either be the owner of the container or an assigned third party.

Documents Required for International Shipping from China

These are the different forms of freight forwarding documents for international shipping from china.

1) Bills of Lading

Lading is the process of loading a good or product to a vessel for transportation.

The bill of lading document ensures that the carrier gets paid and delivers your goods in perfect condition.

There are three main types of lading documents.

These are the inland bill of lading, airway bill, and an ocean bill of lading.

Let’s take a look at each of them.

· Inland Bill of Lading

An inland bill of lading is a crucial document enforcing an agreement between a carrier and a shipper to transport goods by land.

In most cases, an inland bill of lading is the first document issued for international transportation of goods.

Additionally, the inland bill of lading states the value of the goods, the origin, destination of the goods, the description of the goods, and the shipping terms.

The carrier, the exporter, and the freight forwarder signs the inland bill of lading.

An inland bill of lading plays the following roles in the transportation of goods or products.

  • If your goods are damaged while on transit, it offers insurance.
  • Inland bill of lading ensures prompt delivery of your products for shipments.
  • The bill of lading ensures you get paid for your goods

– Ocean Bill of Lading

Just as the name suggests, an ocean bill of lading is necessary for the international transportation of goods by sea.

The bill is an obligation signed between the shipper and carrier.

It provides details on the type of goods, the quantity, and the destination of the goods.

Besides, the ocean bill of lading also shows the type of packaging used in the product.

This lading document becomes binding when the goods are delivered at the port for shipping.

Once the goods are delivered, the receiver signs and retains the document.

An ocean bill of lading can be of two types.

The first one is referred to as a straight bill of lading and is used where the consignee and nobody else directly receives the shipment.

The other one is where a third party can receive imported goods on behalf of the consignee.

– Air Waybill of Lading

If you want to receive your goods faster, you can always opt for air delivery.

The process might be expensive but takes a shorter time compared to ocean transport.

If you are to deliver your goods by air, you have to obtain an airway bill of lading.

The airline company only issues the airway bill of lading.

The airway bill of lading serves the following purposes;

  • Acts as evidence of the receipt of goods in good condition.
  • It is an insurance claim offered to the importer on goods transported.
  • Shows the freight bill to be paid and the terms of the payments.
  • It is one of the critical documents used at customs clearance.

2) Certificate of Origin (C/O)

A C/O is a document used to certify that imported goods are entirely produced and manufactured in a specific country.

 Certificate of orogin document

 Certificate of origin document

This document proves to customs that the goods are obtained from a given country and conform to set requirements.

You need to provide it whenever necessary.

Circumstances where you may need this document include;

  • Where a customer or an importer requires it
  • Where customs orders for the document in the course of the shipping process
  • To meet a country’s stipulated requirements

A certificate of origin document must outline the following information;

  • Means of transport and route; the certificate provides for the port of destination and shipment. Besides, it should also spell out the terms of the shipment.
  • HS code; this part should be about the customs declaration. The HS code shows the category in which the goods fall and the applicable customs duty to pay.
  • Exporter; the exporter is the beneficiary of the shipment. Here, the exporter’s address, including city and country, is written.
  • Quantity, number, and type of packages; the certificate of origin clearly shows the number of packages in transit.

Other important information to include in the certificate of origin is;

  • Certificate number
  • Date and number of invoice

A C/O applies to all products that meet the regulations of place of origin in China.

Your supplier fills the application, and they should have an export license to be eligible.

Suppose you are planning to import from China.

In that case, you should apply for the certificate of origin at least five days earlier before your shipment departs from China.

The certificate is issued after 1-2 days of use. However, you should note that there is no online receipt of the C/O.

3) Commercial Invoice

 Commercial invoice

 commercial invoice

A commercial invoice is a legal document that states the value of the goods in transit and the amount the customer owes the supplier.

Besides, the commercial invoice provides the condition of trade agreed upon by both the seller and the buyer.

It is necessary to fill out the commercial invoice as accurately as possible to avoid delays and speed up the customs clearance process.

The commercial invoice has the following information;

  • Seller information and tax identification number
  • Buyer information and identification number
  • HS code
  • Description of goods
  • Currency
  • Payment instructions
  • Bill of lading number
  • Date of exportation
  • Final destination
  • Delivery terms as per incoterms 2010

4) ertificate of Manufacture

A certificate of manufacture is a statement in which the producer of goods communicates to the buyer that the goods are ready for ordering.

It also certifies that goods produced are of the right quality and conform to stipulated standards.

This document needs to have the manufacturer letterhead and has the following information;

  • The date on which the manufacturer got the product
  • Name of the product
  • Batch number
  • Quality control inspector’s name and signature
  • The number and the quality of the goods
  • The name of the beneficiary of the drawback goods
  • Applicable duty amount charged on the product
  • Quantity and value of the waste
  • Number of outputs
  • Date of signing

5) Packing List

A packing list is a vital freight forwarding document which provides details about your shipment.

Other names that can describe a packing list are; delivery docket, unpacking note, and customer receipt.

The packing list serves the exporter, consignee, and freight forwarder with essential details about the shipment.

The list includes information relating to the number of products and boxes packed.

Packing list

Packing list

A packing list is essential for international shipping because:

  • It serves as a guide for the buyer when confirming goods received
  • They are used to book shipping space with international carriers
  • The list provides the necessary details required to file a certificate of origin
  • It provides an accurate count of the goods you’re importing
  • The document serves as proof of the inland bill of lading.

A packing is prepared by the seller and sent to the importer on location to verify goods.

The list must be as detailed as possible about the shipment. It must include the following information:

  • Quantity of each package.
  • Commercial invoice number.
  • Description of each package.
  • Destination address.
  • Consignee contact address.
  • Shipper contact details.

6) Inspection Certificate

If you are shipping high-value products, you are required to present an inspection certificate.

This certificate provides proof that your product is of good quality and as per the order you placed.

An independent inspection company usually issues the certificate.

This is after they’ve conducted a thorough inspection of whether the goods meet the specifications outlined on the sales contract.

You can classify an inspection certificate as either an official inspection certificate or a commercial inspection certificate.

Suppose you do not trust your suppliers’ production quality; you can opt to involve a trusted company to inspect your behalf.

The inspection company you choose should be trustable by both you and the seller.

After conducting the assessment, the company should provide you with a detailed inspection report.

Packing list

 Sample inspection report

The inspection certificate is issued immediately after completing the independent assessment.

This is only after the goods have passed the quality test.

Otherwise, you cannot be issued with this certificate.

Here are some of the benefits that both buyers and sellers get from the inspection certificate;

  • It clears doubts regarding the quality of products.
  • The certificate provides evidence through the third party. If at all, after a positive recommendation by the inspection company, you witness low-quality products, you can always claim compensation.
  • Acts as documentary evidence under the letter of the credit transaction

Please note that an inspection certificate is only valid for 5 years.

After this period, you will have to file for a new one.

7) Goods Insurance Certificate

Goods insurance certificate is a document that shows the type of goods insured.

It also shows the amount of insurance coverage issued on specific goods in transit.

The shipping process faces numerous impediments that, in the long run, lead to delays in delivery, loss of goods, and high risks.

As such, it is prudent to ensure your products against such risks.

Insurance coverage assures the consignee that you can file claims and get paid if you incur a loss or damage.

Shipping insurance is affordable and costs from $50-$100.

Your chosen insurance company or broker will provide you with this certificate.

Check to contain that the insurance certificate has the following information:

  • Shipment information
  • Policy number
  • Details of the policyholder
  • Shipping information
  • Coverage limit
  • Circumstances for compensation
  • Procedure to follow in the event of a loss
  • The liability of the carrier or third parties
  • The settlement agent’s contact information
  • Premium amounts
  • Validity period

 Sample cargo insurance

Sample insurance certificate

It is essential to accurately manage the goods insurance certificate to speed up the insurance claim process in the event of a risk.

Note also that every insurance certificate covers specific types of products at particular times.

Meaning, you cannot use the same certificate for different products at different times.

In the event where you need to use the same cover over and over again, your insurance broker or provider can arrange a comprehensive insurance certificate.

Remember, once goods leave the manufacturer’s warehouse, they are susceptible to different types of risks.

In this case, apply for one immediately after the supplier dispatches your goods.

8) Import License

For a business to be legally in operation, it must acquire the necessary licenses from the government.

An import license is a document issued by a particular government, allowing you to import different goods.

 Import license

 Import license

The primary purpose of these licenses is to regulate the importation and exportation of Particular goods.

Consequently, it helps protect the domestic industry.

A government imposes quotas by providing licenses to traders allowing them to deal in specific volumes of products.

Importing and exporting can help you expand your business either locally or internationally.

It is prudent to check the applicable requirements before embarking on your business.

The following checklist provides guidelines that you should follow when shipping from China;

  • Check the requirements of the customs border protection regarding items that may require a license.
  • Verify with the port of entry of your goods. Find out any information regarding the process of importation or exportation.
  • Note that, regardless if you qualify for a license, you must complete a customs entry form. After receiving your shipment, you have 15 days to fill the form.

Not all items you import or export will require a license.

You only need to be aware of the exporting/importing laws and regulations.

The best way to proceed is to check with your customs for which goods require an import license.

9) Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) is a document directing a shipping agent on how and where to handle cargo.

In most countries, all shipments must have an SLI.

It permits the freight forwarder to handle all transactions that relate to custom and export schedules.

This document is vital for sea freight merchandise.

This is because shipping vessels often stop at multiple ports making an SLI critical.

It helps in ensuring the safety and proper handling of sea shipments at all times.

A shipper’s letter of instruction aids in the following:

  • Issuing an export document; in cases where you are not familiar with importing/exporting requirements, giving an SLI to your forwarding agent is the best way to ensure efficiency and swift shipping.
  • Proving all information in one place, the SLI provides all information about the shipment in a single document. This way, the use of voluminous documents is reduced.
  • Delegate duties to the freight forwarder; providing a written power of attorney and an SLI document to the freight forwarder allows them to oversee cargo on the shipper’s behalf.

Filing out an SLI is an easy process, and you can even use an online template.

These templates are easy to follow, and they guide you through the process of issuing an SLI.

These templates require the following information;

  • The person paying for the freight
  • Freight forwarder details
  • Shippers information
  • Quantities and weights of products.
  • Type of freight.
  • Name and contact of the exported.
  • Insurance information.
  • Type of packaging used.
  • Special handling requirements.

10) Dangerous Goods Certificate

Dangerous Goods (DG) are products that pose health, safety, or environmental risks when handled and shipped improperly.

People with special training and expertise should handle such goods.

The use of diamond-shaped signage denotes dangerous goods.

IATA and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulate dangerous goods and HAZMAT shipping.

If your shipment contains hazardous or dangerous goods, you must provide a certificate of dangerous goods.

The DGC requires that a company has a team that is well trained in the documentation, packing, and labeling of the consignments.

Forms for dangerous goods shipping must be completed and signed by trained personnel.

This way, you can avoid instances of accidents that result from shipping such goods.

11) Gift Certificate/Letter of Donation

Sometimes, your intention to import or export is not to sell but rather for relief.

In such a case, you are supposed to obtain a gift certificate that indicates that your shipment is not meant for resale.

Donations and gifts are exempted from paying import duties.

Therefore, with this document, you can import at will as long as the goods are safe and conform to the stipulated rules and regulations.

12) Phytosanitary Certificate

Phyto certificate

Phyto certificate

A phytosanitary certificate is an important document when shipping certain regulated agricultural products like plants.

It is generated from the exporting country’s ministry of agriculture, water, or food resources.

Only certified personnel authorized by the National Plant Protection Agency (NPPO) can issue the document.

The document aids in preventing the entry of pests, diseases, and other contagious pathogens into the country of importation.

The document is essential when shipping the following products:

  • Seeds for propagation
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains
  • Specified plants

If you are shipping the following products, you must first register with NPPO after applying with your country’s department.

Besides, you can either apply online or through hard documents to qualify for the certificate.

In most cases, qualified personnel will have to inspect your storage facility to ensure it conforms to the set health standards.

You have to include the following documents in a phytosanitary certificate:

  • Country of origin
  • Country of delivery
  • Import license number
  • Declared point of entry
  • Details of the product
  • Means of conveyance
  • Shippers and consignee details
  • Treatment details
  • Company statement that declares the safety of the consignment
  • An official signature from the inspection officer

13) Fumigation Certificate

A fumigation certificate confirms the shipment has been fumigated and is safe.

It is also known as a pest control certificate.

The document contains information on the type of fumigant used, the temperature, and the treatment tenacity.

Fumigation of the materials used is a must for international transport.

However, you do not need to fumigate wood-derived products.

This way, it is better to use plastic as the sole packing materials to avoid fumigation.

How to Process Documentation for International Shipping from china

In your international shipping course, you will need well-documented data to facilitate faster customs clearance and delivery of your merchandise.

You will need documents at two crucial points in the course of your shipping.

The first part will be at the loading country where your goods originate.

And the last part will be at the off-loading dock in the destination country.

To make the whole process swift, you should keep track of your documents and ensure they are updated regularly.

The following documents we have mentioned in the previous section will come in handy in international shipping.

For some of these documents, you need to process them at the origin country before shipping goods.

Others require that you process paperwork at the destination country, as per customs rules and regulations.

You must provide the necessary documents at the origin country to allow your goods to be shipped.

In many cases, if you are shipping under FOB, your supplier will handle the documentation process.

At the destination country, customs will not release your goods.

This is until you provide requisite documents, fill out the necessary paperwork, and pay customs duties.

The required paperwork will depend on the products you are shipping and customs regulations.

Note also that there are those documents that you can process and send online, while some require you to do it manually.

There are usually so many templates available for online processing that you can fill out your details and process.

You can hire a freight forwarder to handle the documentation as well as the shipping process.

A reliable freight forwarder will help ease the process of shipping from china.

Why you Should Keep Records of your Freight Forwarding Documentation

The whole process of shipping goods is document centered.

The documents offer the necessary details regarding the shipment.

They provide needed information regarding the origin, destination, quantity, conditions of the product, and how they are handled.

These records are always important at the customs clearance to facilitate swift handling of the consignment to the owner.

Besides, proper records help in cases where there are complaints from the customer regarding the shipment.

In a nutshell, it is essential to keep proper records of the documentation because they help:

  • Identify a specific shipment and match it with its contents.
  • Plan the requirements for the transport, storage, handling, and delivery of the shipment to the final terminus.
  • To confirm products received against those ordered and shipped.
  • To initiate insurance claims in cases where there are losses incurred in the course of transportation.
  • Act as evidence in case of disputes.

Who Handles Customs Clearance when Importing from China

Whether shipping through the sea, air, or land, every shipment must pass through customs.

The whole process can be tedious and tiresome, and sometimes even frustrating.

You can handle customs clearance on your own or hire a third party to do it for you.

However, you should consider the following factors before deciding on handling the whole process or outsourcing a third party to help.

– The Number of Import/Export Declarations

The more number of declarations you have, the higher customs clearance will charge you.

It is economical to handle customs clearance on your own if you have a higher number of declarations.

– Costs of Handling Clearance Yourself vs. Outsourcing

You can calculate the cost of having a functional clearance system, fixed costs, and the total amount of time employees must spend doing the clearance.

Then, you can compare your expected costs with that of outsourcing and choose the least cost.

– Keep track of Performance

It can be cheap to outsource than to handle customs clearance yourself.

However, you should keep track of the courier clearance to ensure they handle it accurately.

This is because, in a situation where mistakes are made, customs will hold you liable to pay for the errors.

Combining the Two Options

You can decide to adopt both methods of customs clearance depending on your business’s nature.

If you are exporting and importing, it can be profitable to have a freight forwarder handle your importation’s clearance as you handle the clearance on exportation.

If you handle customs clearance yourself, you can enjoy the following benefits.

  • The faster custom clearance lowers delivery delays
  • Reduced costs as you are in total control of the customs fees
  • Minimize costly mistakes that can be made by freight agents
  • the secure and well maintained in-house customs clearance process

On the other hand, having a freight forwarder handling your customs clearance has the following benefits;

  • Relieve you of the hectic time spent on handling customs clearance allowing you to concentrate on other essential aspects of the business.
  • You do not have to be accustomed to the latest trends in freight forwarding since your agent handles it for you.
  • Using a freight forwarding agent only crushes you economically and not administratively if the quantity of declarations increases.
  • Enjoy quality handling of the process as these agents have enough experience and connections in this field.

Let Bansar help with your shipping documentation process.

 Bansar freight forwarder

Bansar freight forwarder

The whole process of shipping and handling customs clearance is tiresome, intricate, and perplexing.

You spend much time that would instead spend on management.

Besides, the complex nature of customs clearance requires competency and knowledge about freight clearing rules and regulations.

You can, however, reduce this anxiety by hiring the services of a reputable freight forwarder.

At Bansar, we assure you of stress-free shipping at a relatively cheap cost.

We are a premier freight forwarder that offers air, sea, and land transport.

Besides, we do product inspection and customs clearance.

If you consider importing, you can always trust us to handle your freight procedures and processes gladly.

With our services, you get the following;

  • A reputation of over ten years in the business. This means we understand the rules and regulations, and we guarantee you quality customs clearance.
  • Competitive shipping rates. Our pricing matches your economic needs. Believing in us and using our services gives you the freedom to undertake other endeavors without worrying about your freight losses.
  • A one-stop-shop for all your shipping needs. We provide various services that include collecting products from your supplier, filling documents, customs clearance, and delivering the goods to your doorstep.
  • Get reliable and fast freight forwarding to your desired destination.
  • Free warehousing at pick freight moments of 20-30 days.

At Bansar, we have an ever dedicated team that values your cargo, listens to your requests, and updates you on your shipping progress.

Furthermore, we allow you to use containers for free for up to 28 days.

Trust us and let us deliver your shipments, handle your documentation and customs clearance process.

Contact us now and just sit, relax, and take care of other essential developments in your business while we do the rest.

Scroll to Top