Shipping internationally is quickly becoming a day 1 activity for businesses of all sizes. Whether you have 10 customers or 10,000 if you have a physical product chances are at some point (sooner than you think) you’re going to need to ship internationally.
With the right partner, this process can be no more daunting than domestic shipping, but there are a few things to learn before you jump in. In order to help you along in this journey we created a quick reference of the 3 main forms you should be acquainted with: the Commercial Invoice, Packing List, and DGD Form
A Commercial invoice is a document that summarizes the details of an international shipping transaction between 2 parties (usually a buyer and seller). The main purpose of the document is to help calculate tariffs, international commercial terms (like the Cost in a CIF), as well as for country Customs purposes.
While there is no standard format for this form, most Commercial Invoices contain cost details or a bill which represents the transaction between the buyer and seller of the goods. This document can include how the shipment was prepped, what the shipments contains, and how it is getting paid for. Each good will also often have a value and will come with a harmonized tariff code.
A Packing List contains exactly what the name indicates – a list of goods contained within a shipment. While this document has some overlap with the Commercial Invoice, in general, a packing list is a much more detailed document, containing specific measurements, weights, packaging information, and often a more detailed cost breakdown by SKU or product ID.
Similarly to the Commercial Invoice, there is no standard Packing List format, but most are built in Excel and contain a simple table that breaks down the details of what is being shipped.
Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD) Forms (in Rare Cases Only)
Shipping hazardous or dangerous goods internationally? You’ll need an extra document(s) for that. Chances are if you’re shipping Danger Goods, then you don’t need an intro into the basic forms, but suffice it to say that the process is more than just filing some paperwork. Depending on the goods there can be very strict requirements as to the types of transportation used, stopover locations, and other aspects involved in the shipping process.
As far as forms are concerned, the main item is the Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD). This form identifies all of the dangerous goods in your shipment, Shipper and Consignee information, and transportation details. It is very important to ensure these forms are filled out correctly.
That’s All Folks
Mismanagement of proper international shipping documentation can be one of the leading causes of shipping delays and customs issues. Each document serves a unique purpose and it’s important to get the details correct to save yourself time and hassle.