UK Transport Documentation

A guide to export documentation:

SO, here you are, all set for international trade. But the complicated documentation procedures seem so complicated and mingled. Let me share with you the transport documents required for export specifically for United Kingdom. This will make the documentation process far easier for you!

United Kingdom is the 10th largest export economy in the world. While it’s a great step to export the goods to UK, yet documentation process is time taking and lengthy. Once you’re done with the paper work then goods reach to the customer and you get payment without any hassle.

Transport documentation refers to all the documents required for the goods to be transported to UK. A person who holds the transport documents can easily track the goods and has hold on the goods i.e. he gets possession of goods. He can easily get payment and has right to control the goods after dispatch. Transport documents are stipulated with ‘Documentary letters of credit’ as well.

Bills of Lading:

Goods can be transported through ship or container. The carriers of goods issue a receipt called ‘Bills of lading’, once goods are loaded. In the bills of lading, all the terms and conditions are mentioned. It acts as an evidence that goods are carried. Bills of lading is different and far more important than other freight documents. It acts as a ‘Document of title’ also. This means that if the consignee wants the possession of goods, He must have the original bills of lading with him. So, it’s very important to keep the original document safe. There are usually two or more original copies of bills of lading.

CIM/CMR consignment note:

CIM (Conventional International des Merchandises par Chemin de Fer)/ CMR is the set of conditions for international trading via rail. CIM provides the conditions that the damage or loss of the goods is responsibility of the carrier. While CIM form seem complex, yet it’s only upper half is significant. The lower half of the form is for other railway companies who exchange the payments and goods. It’s important to keep the original copy of CIM so that one can claim for the goods if they are lost or damaged.

Sea waybill:

Sea waybill is the contract between exporter and the carrier. It is the consignment note for se freight. It has terms and conditions which indicate that all the goods were handed over in a perfect condition. It can be called as receipt of goods ‘in apparent good order and condition’. Unlike the bills of lading, sea waybills do not act as document of title. So, exporter cannot hold the ownership of goods necessarily. It is filled by the carrier. It is simpler than bills of lading, thus, is used extensively. Its advantage over bills of lading is apparent when there are short sea crossings or when the exporter is well known and trust worthy.

Air waybill:

Air waybill is the contract between the exporter and carrier. It is the consignment note for air freight. IT also acts as a receipt for goods ‘in apparent good order and condition’. The air waybills are also not the document of title i.e. exporter may not claim the possession once goods are carried. However, the consignee can claim the possession once the goods arrive the destination.  The form is filled by the carrier.

Courier waybill:

These are issued by individual couriers. So, they do not have any standard form. Courier waybills are much easier and simpler as compared to sea and air waybills.

Standard shipping note:

Standard shipping notes are completed by the exporter. Exporter completes the form for non-hazardous goods. So, it is not for dangerous or hazardous goods. Exporter writes the instruction of carrying the goods and handovers it to the carrier beforehand or just when goods are loaded.

As mentioned above, the standard shipping note is for non-hazardous goods. As for hazardous goods which carry the UN hazardous code, Dangerous Goods Note must be filled instead of standard shipping note. Consult a freight broker about the hazard level of your goods.

Certificates Required:

Certain certificates are required which are as follows:

Origin Certificate:

This certificate mentions that from where the goods are imported i.e. the origin of export. Origin certificate is required to prove that the country from where goods are imported is not banned. The country which has boycott the trade with another country will have to provide documents which prove that goods do not break import restrictions. Many countries provide additional tariff to certain other countries.

The forms are filled by the exporter and can be obtained from the chamber of commerce. The form should be authenticated by UK embassy and it can take several days (almost seven working days). The origin certificate adds extra cost to the exporter and should be mentioned in the quotations.

Health certificate:

For the shipment of agricultural products and fresh meat products, health certificate is required. It can be issued by Department of food and rural affairs (DeFRA). In case of export of plants (herbs, shrubs or trees), raw fruits and vegetables, phytosanitary and plant certificates are required. They can also be issued by DeFRA.

Certificate of conformity:

It is also called inspection certificate. It ensures that the goods meet all the standard conditions provided by UK. Standards include the quality of goods, quantity and other technicalities. The exporter must check the goods under his premises by a special inspection team. Exporter should pay for these services. Certificate of conformity is mandatory in some countries and the goods are impounded if there is no inspection certificate. However, it is not really required in other destination countries.

EUR1 movement certificates:

This certificate is for the European free trade area (EFTA) which include United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Slovenia. EUR1 certificate is required to claim preferential duty rates (either discount or free!)


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