How to avoid mistakes with shipping documentation

There is a saying that you can only go forward by making mistakes. That is not true if you are a professional working in a logistics company and your day-to-day tasks include international import and export. Also, if you operate a business that sells goods to customers internationally, you will not go forward making shipping mistakes. Mistakes should not happen, especially when preparing shipping documentation. That could will mean losing both time and money and the client’s trust. Nevertheless, certain situations that make you lose focus may arise. Let’s go through some tips on how to avoid mistakes with shipping documentation.

What type of documentation do you require for commercial shipping?

Suppose you are about to ship your cargo to Dammam, and you need proper documentation to accompany your shipment. In this case, it is best to contact a logistics company in Dammam, as the regulations are strict. Documentation has to be correctly sorted. You want to avoid mistakes with shipping documentation because such errors could cause delays and unravel other problems. It highly depends on what kind of goods you are shipping, but among them, must-have documents are the following:

  • Original commercial invoice
  • Original certificate of origin
  • Bill of lading or airway bill
  • Packing list

Apart from these, you may also need different compliance documents stating the goods meet health, safety, and other regulations. Also, you will probably need to translate all the documents into Arabic.

pile of folders with shipping documentation
Every shipment is different this the list of required documents may vary. It is best to contact a specialist and seek assistance

Original commercial invoice

An invoice is a vital document for every shipping. The data on the invoice must be accurate and precise. It has to contain the names of the seller and the buyer. Also, it has to have a list of all items with accompanying value. One of the essential elements on the invoice is the terms of sale, meaning paying for shipping costs. Usually, you will need three copies of the original invoice. One copy is for the country of export. Another copy is for import, and the third for the final recipient.

Original certificate of origin

A certificate of origin is a document that declares the source of the cargo. This document should be legalized by the chamber of commerce of the country of export. You may also need to translate this document into Arabic. Usually, the certificate of origin is valid for a single delivery. It is an essential document in international trade and subject to other trade agreements.

Bill of lading or airway bill

Depending on the shipping method, you will need a bill of lading or an airway bill by sea or by air. A bill of lading is a contract between a freight company and the shipper. It contains all the technical details of the shipment. Usually, you will require three copies. An airway bill is the same type of document that generally accompanies cargo shipped by air. You want your freight forwarder in Saudi Arabia to negotiate the best prices for the fastest routes.

Packing list

The packing list is an addition to your commercial invoice. This document should contain the list of all items that are on the invoice and in the packages. The weight and quantity of the items must be on the packing list. That is a vital document as it will ensure a faster customs clearance and help avoid any complications.

person signing documents
Every single signature is important if you want to avoid common mistakes with shipment documentation.

Other shipment documentation

Besides the documents mentioned above, other paperwork should accompany your cargo. If you want to avoid shipping documentation mistakes, don’t think twice before contacting a company specializing in cargo transportation. The regulations are strict. Compliance with safety and health standards applies differently depending on the type of goods. That means all this should be under the supervision of a trained professional. That is the only way to be sure you are doing everything according to import obligations.

What type of documentation do you need for non-commercial shipping?

Suppose you are relocating to Saudi Arabia and shipping your household items and perhaps your vehicle. In this case, you certainly don’t need a commercial invoice but some other documentation. Suppose you are unsure what type of documents to prepare a talk to some moving companies in Saudi Arabia, and get a detailed list. It is useful to know old household items are duty-free, and you can import them at no charge. New household items are subject to customs. Consequently, you should have receipts, invoices, or other ownership paperwork. It is best if you have an inventory list of all the items. All your belongings will go through customs clearance. Beware that certain items such as weapons, alcohol, or drugs are strictly prohibited. Other items such as medication, plants, or political literature need special authorization. You can import your car, but it will be subject to customs.

binded white folders
For importing your personal belongings you still need a list of documents that prove origin and the value of imported items

To recap: 3 useful tips to avoid mistakes with shipping documentation

The legislation is always changing. The list of paperwork you require today may be obsolete tomorrow. It is essential to follow these basic guidelines and stay on top of your shipping process even if you are not an expert:

  1. Get assistance from a specialist about customs clearance, freight forwarding, and cargo transportation. This way, you will be sure you are doing everything right. For more information, visit the Saudi customs website.
  2. Stay organized and follow instructions. Arrange all your documents in a logical order or the order required by the shipping company. Make enough copies and keep extra copies for yourself.
  3. Check everything twice. Even three times if possible. You don’t want one missing signature to cause delays. One missing item on the packing list can raise eyebrows at customs clearance.

In the end, remember that import and export laws always change so that mistakes can happen after all.

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