Import Documentation Requirement for Customs Clearance

In effecting Imports as well as Exports, documentation plays a very important role. Especially in case of imports, the availability of right documents, the correctness of the information available in the documents as well as the timeliness in submitting the documents and filing the necessary applications for the Customs Clearance determines the efficiency of the Customs Clearance process. Any delay in filing or non availability of documents can delay the process and thereby importer stands not only to incur demurrage on the imported cargo but also stand to loose business opportunities.

Customs Clearance process requires set of documents to be submitted by the Importer, By the airline, shipping line or concerned Freight Forwarder as well as the Customs documentation prepared and submitted by Clearing Agent on behalf of the Importer.

Some of the documents required from Importer from his end are:

  • Commercial Invoice - This is the most important document that certifies the sale as well as gives the description of the items as well as reflects the pricing or the value of the cargo.

    Customs valuation is based on the value reflected on the Commercial Invoice. Customs also verifies the rates charged in the commercial invoice and can question the rates applied incase it has sufficient cause to believe that the rates charged as not as per international market rates or the invoice is under valued to avoid duties.

  • Packing List - It is mandatory to put the shipping marks on all the cargo covering each and every individual piece or parcel. The details of the number of parcels in the consignment, their dimension, the shipping marks, the gross and net weights of each of the parcels along with the number of units contained in each parcel is catalogued in the form of packing list.

    Packing List is used to identify the parcels as belonging to the particular consignment under the said Invoice.

  • Certificate of Origin - Certain bilateral agreements and multi lateral agreements would enjoy favorable tariffs for import duties. In such cases when the consignments are exported from such member countries, the designated Export Agency issues Certificate of Origin to the importer for submission to Customs. Based on this certificate the Customs Department of the Importing Country classifies the cargo under specific schedule.

    Certificate of Origin also helps to avoid third party countries from routing imports through member countries and effecting third party exports to avoid duty, quantity or license restrictions.

  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill - Bill of Lading is a negotiable multi modal transport document issued by the Shipping Line certifying carriage of the said cargo under the specific invoice on behalf of the exporter or importer depending upon the terms of sale. An ‘On Board Bill of Lading’ is usually considered to be the apt Bill of Lading that signifies that the cargo has been loaded ‘On Board’ the vessel or the ship. This is one of the documents required for negotiations of payment from importer to the exporter.

    Air way Bill is the negotiable transport document issued by an Airline or a Freight Forwarder who consolidates the airfreight cargo.

    In case of Road Carriage, the Transporter issues a negotiate Way Bill covering the shipment.

Depending upon the mode of transport, one of these documents would be required to be submitted along with the commercial invoice and packing list to the Customs for clearance.

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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to and the content page url.