In the course of every international trade export transaction, the exporter prepares a certain number of documents that have been previously agreed to be issued by them to the importer. These documents are usually important for the importer to use in clearing the goods at their port of delivery. And depending on what their port requirements may be, some details may or may not be allowed to be included in the documents.
Asides from just the import requirements to be put into the documents, the paying bank too may require that some information be included in the documents and some excluded.
To avoid entering situations where the shipping documents do not contain the right requirements to ensure you get paid or that the importer can clear their goods at their delivery port, here are some things to also double check:
1). Ensure The Consignee Name & Address Is Exactly As Agreed And Uniform:
When a Letter of Credit is issued, the bank usually wants its name and address to be the name and address on the consignee section of the bill of Lading, while the importer’s name and address remains at the notify party section of the Bill of Lading.
While this is mostly a standard in LCs, most exporters make the mistake of thinking the bank’s name and address also has to be on all the shipping documents, and as a result, end up producing documents that cannot be used by the importer to clear the goods at the port of delivery.
It’s important that the right name and address are in the right sections and are written exactly as they should be without any mistakes.
If the importer is not issuing a Letter of credit, then their name should be in the consignee section of the Bill of Lading and not the bank’s name.
2). Ensure The Exact Quantity of The Goods Are Correct And Uniform:
The quantity of the goods needs to be stated on all shipping documents exactly as they were after they were weighed at the port of loading.
If the weight on the bill of lading is different from the weight on the commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of analysis, fumigation certificate, or any other documents, it creates confusion and can cause the customs at the delivery port to penalise the importer.
Also, the paying bank would be unable to pay for the goods and will flag them as discrepant because of the variation.
3). Ensure The Product Name Is Accurate:
The name of the product being shipped must be exactly as agreed in the contract and/or mentioned in the Letter of Credit issued by the buyer’s bank.
If the product name on the documents is not exactly as requested, the bank will not release the payment unless their client signs off on it.
Also, using the wrong name for a different product in a shipping container can cause a world of troubles for both the importer and the exporter, and so, it is important that the name is always as accurate as possible.
4). Ensure All Inspection Documents Dates Are Before The Shipping Date On The Bill of Lading:
It is important that the inspection documents dates of all documents issued in respect of a shipment must be before the date of shipping because if the opposite is the case, it would imply the documents were forged after the cargo sailed and that the inspections never happened.
The date of issuing the document may be after the date of shipping, but the date of inspection must be prior to the shipping date to prove that you fulfilled all regulatory requirements before the cargo was stuffed in a container and shipped from the port of origin.
5). Ensure The Documents Are Submitted At The Agreed Time:
In Letter of Credits there is usually a timeline for the submission of the shipping documents. This latest day of shipment is mostly 21 days before the expiry of the LC, but is negotiable and can even be reduced to as low as the expiry date of the LC.
It’s important that you always prepare and submit all the shipping documents as at when due so that you can be in line with the LC’s document submission timeline requirements and also help the importer secure all the documents before their goods arrive at their port of delivery to avoid them paying any dwelling or demurrage fees.
6). Ensure The Other Document Requirements Are Exactly As Agreed:
There are also varying documents that would be requested depending on the product that is being shipped and the country it is being shipped to, and so, it is important that you must always prepare all the required documents and ensure all the required information are put in exactly as required to avoid having any complications with the shipment or receiving payment.
What are your thoughts on these 6 shipping document mistakes to avoid making when preparing your shipping documents for submission? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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