Let’s tackle the documentation needed to get your merchandise into the importer’s hands. While you can have your freight forwarder handle all the paperwork for you, as the exporter, you need to know how each link in the chain functions. You need to understand these documents when you’re the importer, too, because either you or your customs broker will use them to claim your cargo once it arrives at the harbor, loading dock or airport.
Here they are, in alphabetical order, for your review:
Bill of Lading. “Lading” means freight or cargo, so a bill of lading is basically a receipt from the cargo handler–the steamship, air, or truck line–showing that it’s got your goods. To make things official, the document is signed by the ship’s captain or other agent of the transporter as binding evidence that the merchandise has been shipped. There are various permutations of the bill of lading, including:
- Clean or Clean on Board. This means the transport company hasn’t noted any irregularities in the packing or condition of the goods. This is the standard bill of lading.
- Foul. A foul bill of lading indicates that the transport company has discovered, for example, something sticky leaking from those boxes marked “blood byproducts.” If your bill of lading gets marked “foul,” you’ll want to exchange the bum container for a “clean” one and have the shipment relabeled before it’s presented to the importer.
- On Board. This one confirms only that the cargo’s been placed on board the vessel and carries no other guidelines or stipulations.
- On Deck. This is relevant only if the goods, such as livestock, must be transported on the deck of the ship….Read more
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