Set Sail! Farewell to the land!

Set Sail! Farewell to the land!

Cargo area of an aircraft, ready for loading…well, almost.

Somewhere between getting that all-important signed acceptance of the Proforma and the cargo leaving the country, there are still a few steps – most importantly, you have to book the passage!

Booking the shipment

Your forwarder already has the basic information about your shipment, from your Request for Freight Options query. Now that you’ve got an actual sale, you can firm up your lead time and request your forwarder to book the shipment, and – very important – to send you written confirmation of the booking.

Now you know exactly how long you have until you must deliver the cargo to the terminal, whether it’s air or sea; what else do you need to do before then?

Export Documents

There are two kinds of export documents: the ones you prepare, such as the Export or Commercial Invoice, and those that must be obtained elsewhere, such as export permits, Certificates of Origin and so on.

You already know which external documents you need, and how long it takes to arrange them, from your information-gathering before you issued the Proforma; you now need to go ahead and organise them.

The documents that you must prepare, and which must arrive at the terminal with the cargo, are the Export or Commercial Invoice, the Packing List and the Packing Declaration. You should also supply a Container Summary if your shipment has multiple containers:

 Export Invoice

Your Export Invoice, also known as a Commercial Invoice, has all the same information as the Proforma, with a couple of changes. You no longer need to include transit times, as you did on the Proforma; all other information on the Proforma should appear on the Export Invoice.

When you supply the Export Invoice with the shipment, you will not yet have the Bill of Lading or Master Air Waybill number, but this number will be available for the final version of the document that you supply to your buyer for clearance at destination. Once you have it, you must add it to the Export Invoice.

Packing List

The Packing List is a required document. Where the Export Invoice shows the items as sold, the Packing List shows the cargo as packed. For instance, you might invoice wine by the carton, but pack it for shipment on pallets; the Packing List shows how many pallets, their weights and dimensions and volume. This is different again from the Customs Quantity, which for wine will be the total number of litres of wine.

If you are shipping in a container, you should also provide the container and seal number on your packing list.

The top part of the Packing List should have all the same information as the Export Invoice, including especially the Invoice number, shipment number (your reference) and the buyer’s reference, if any. This enables Customs and any other people handling or clearing the shipment to know that the documents belong to the same shipment.

Container summary

If you are shipping multiple containers, you could also provide a separate document summarising the container numbers, each with their container type, seal number, total packages, total gross weight and total volume. For smaller numbers of containers, it’s sufficient to include these details on the Packing List.

Packing Declaration

We mentioned the ISPM15 Packing Declaration in the previous article; this document must accompany the Export Invoice, Packing List and any Container Summary.

Export clearance

All goods intended to be exported from Australia with a value of $2000 or more must be declared to Australian Customs Service (Customs) on an export declaration. Any goods that require a permit for export  must be reported on an export declaration regardless of value.

The only situation where you don’t arrange the export declaration yourself is when your Incoterm is EXW, Ex Works. In this case, the buyer is doing the exporting – for you, this is treated like a domestic sale, even though the goods are going overseas. Any other Incoterm requires you as exporter to complete all the procedures.

Normally your forwarder will take care of the process of obtaining an Export Declaration Number, once you have supplied any required extra documents. Obtaining the EDN involves notifying Customs about your shipment by lodging an Export Declaration, and when Customs is satisfied that your shipment is able to be exported, receiving the EDN. The EDN is required before your cargo can be loaded on an aircraft or ship.

There’s more information on the EDN process on the Customs website, in particular in the Export Control Manual.

Everything’s lined up; you can now think about booking the transport to deliver your cargo to the terminal.


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