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Essential Documents For A Smooth Customs Clearance Process


Sumana Sarmah

Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

August 17, 2022

6 min read

Did you know that all consignments intended for international destinations must go through a customs clearance process? Each country is governed by its laws, and all carriers, shipping companies, and freight carriers need to be aware of them. Skipping any of the mandatory documents is not permissible under the law.

Before submitting your consignment, ensure you have the necessary documents verified during the customs clearance process in India. You can handle the customs clearance electronically or physically, along with your shipment. Having your documents in order is crucial. It helps officials calculate taxes and duties accurately, ensuring a smooth verification process for your consignment.

When it comes to clearing customs for your international orders, customs rules and levies vary from country to country. However, there are a few documents that are mandatory globally. A company like Shiprocket X helps you breeze through the formalities easily.

List of documents for the customs clearance process

ProForma Invoice

A ProForma invoice is similar to a purchase order and furnishes details of the product being sold. Each ProForma invoice is generated based on the mutually agreed terms and conditions between the exporters and the importers. The terms may be communicated via email, fax, telephone, virtual meeting, or personal meeting. A ProForma invoice is essential in the export customs clearance process, and you must generate it before the sales transaction is completed.

Customs Packing List                                                                                                                  

A customs packing list is a detailed list of items to be sent in the export shipment. The buyers or importers can cross-verify the list with the ProForma invoice to check if the description matches. The customs packing list is mandatory for the customs clearance process with documents. It is sent along with an international shipment and contains information about the shipped items.

Country Of Origin Certificate (COO)                   

A country of origin certificate is a document issued by the exporting company, stating that the goods were made or processed in the mentioned country. This helps determine where the goods come from. So, the exporting company declares that the products were created in that specific country.

Customs Invoice

A customs invoice is a crucial document that needs to accompany an international shipment. Customs officials can demand to inspect the customs invoice to check if it contains the relevant information. The invoice includes order details, a description of the goods, delivery time, payment terms, etc. The customs officials will verify that the document is genuine and give their go-ahead for dispatching the goods.

Shipping Bill

As the name implies, a shipping bill is a document that serves as a permanent record for the export transaction. One can submit it electronically using an online software system (ICEGATE).

To obtain a shipping bill in India, the exporting company typically needs the following documents:

Commercial Invoice: An invoice issued by the seller, detailing the transaction’s commercial aspects.

Packing List: A document specifying the contents of each package or container.

Bill of Lading or Airway Bill: A receipt issued by the carrier acknowledging the shipment of goods.

Letter of Credit: If applicable, a financial document ensuring payment to the exporter.

Certificate of Origin: A document indicating the country where the goods were produced.

Purchase Order: A document from the buyer confirming the order details.

Export License: If required, a license permitting the export of specific goods.

Insurance Certificate: Documenting the insurance coverage for the shipment.

Inspection Certificate: If necessary, a certificate verifying product quality and conformity.

Export Declaration Form: A form detailing the exported goods and their destination.Note: The specific documents required may vary based on the nature of the goods, destination country, and trade regulations. It’s advisable to consult with relevant authorities or a customs broker for accurate and up-to-date information.

Bill Of Lading

A bill of lading is a document issued by the carrier to the exporter. It is documentary evidence of a mutual contract for shipping goods. The bill will contain details of the product, the type, quantity, and destination of the goods. The exporter, carrier, and receiving party need to sign this document. The bill of lading is to be produced at the destination as a shipment receipt and is handed over to the country’s customs office for clearance.

Bill Of Sight

The bill of sight is a declaration given to the customs department if the importer or receiver is unaware of the nature of the shipped goods. The receiver can inspect the goods before paying the relevant duties using the bill of sight. The bill of sight has to include a letter from the exporter to enable clearance of the goods by the customs officials.

Letter Of Credit

The letter of credit is a document furnished by the importer’s bank undertaking to honour the payment to the exporter. A letter of credit ensures that the importer will pay the invoice amount.

Bill Of Exchange

A bill of exchange is like an IOU or a promissory note and is drawn by banks or individuals. It is a payment substitute, and the importer is bound to clear the payment for the goods on demand or as mutually agreed.

Export Licence

An exporter needs an export licence from the respective authorities, issued by the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports. Any business intending to export goods should have a valid export licence, which they must produce when customs officials ask for it. An export licence is required for internationally shipped goods.

Warehouse Receipt

A warehouse receipt is generated after the exporter has paid all the mandatory export duties and freight charges.

Health Certificate

If a business is exporting food products to international destinations, it must obtain a health certificate. The document certifies that the food products in the consignment meet all health and safety standards and that the food is fit for human consumption. Food products cannot be shipped to international destinations without a health certificate.

Summary: Easy Documentation For Seamless Customs Clearance

In a recent survey, it was found that the Indian Government has a big plan to support local production and make it easier for small businesses to export globally. They’ve worked on simplifying the customs clearance process in India, aiming to help small businesses thrive. The country has emerged as an export hub, thanks to Atmanirbhar Bharat, which encourages small and large exporters. In 2022, the government crossed its goal of achieving USD 400 billion in exports, and most of the products listed above are being internationally sold.


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