Export Shipping Documents – Part 2


Air Waybill or Airway Bill (AWB) 

Airway bills are used when shipments are sent by air.  Airway bills must contain the information required for moving the shipment when you ship internationally via and integrator  (such as FedEx, DHL, UPS, USPS, etc.), or in some cases with an airline, you will need to complete the airway bill yourself. This is very simple and these companies provide both an automated (online or computer-based) or printed form.  We will have a separate section as well as a podcast covering the conveyance documents.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

 This is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier. When shipping via ocean, the ocean bill of lading may be a negotiable or non negotiable. The non-negotiable B/L is also referred to as the straight B/L.   The negotiable

B/L is also known as a shipper’s order B/L. The negotiable B/L is exactly that, a negotiable document it can be bought, sold or transferred while the shipment is on route with proof of ownership. A straight bill of lading is non negotiable.


Export Compliance Documents


EEI–Electronic Export Information

Although this happens to be one of the most common of all export control documents, the Electronic Export Information (used to be called Shipper’s Export Declaration or SED) is one of the most common and misunderstood export compliance documents.

Our government, in order to compile trade statistics, uses the information gathered on this online document. When we hear in the news that we have a trade deficit or a trade surplus with any given country on any specific commodity this is where/how the information is gathered.

You, as the exporter of record, are required to file the EEI for all shipments with a value of $2500 or more, per commodity. When shipping to Canada you do not need to file an EEI unless an export license or permit is required.

An EEI is required when shipping to Puerto Rico as well as the US Virgin Islands.

There is no cost for filing this document online and you can do so at the AES website.  If a freight forwarder or a common carrier files the document on your behalf they may charge you a fee for the service.  As of this writing, they are running US$10-25.00.  The AES website will require you to register using either your Social Security number (if you’re exporting as an individual) or your Federal ID/Employer Identification Number if you are shipping as a Corporation. Please understand that this is a Required document when applicable. The AES website has many resources to help you.

Export License

 You will not be required to have an export license for export of general commodities there are some commodities that require it and export licenses authorize by a specific government entity. It authorizes you to export a product. It is specific to a shipment with details such as unit part and/or part numbers serial numbers etc. to a specific destination. Since it is a controlled commodity the controlling agency will provide the required details.

US Government Agencies controlling Export Shipments

Here are some agencies that controls and requirements for exports. You may need to work with and through these agencies to acquire the correct and proper documentation and specifications for exports.

  • State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls

The Directorate of Defense Trade Control is responsible for weapons and other articles used for defense

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for nuclear substances being shipped.  They set regulations for export and import compliance.

  • US Drug Enforcement Administration

Subpart II of Title 21 of the US Code (USC) Controlled Substance Act, covers regulations controlling substance such as pharmaceuticals and precursor chemicals for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

  • US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)

The BIS Department is responsible for dual use articles and controlled commodities.

  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations

 The US Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls is where you can find the International Traffic in Arms Regulations for weapons and ammunition shipments among others.  These shipments will require a statement on the commercial invoice as well as the conveyance document (airway bill, ocean bill of lading, bill of lading).  May require additional information depending on destination and commodity.

  • National Fisheries Services

 If you are exporting commodities in the fisheries industry, you may need to have those commodities inspected and analyzed prior to export. The national fisheries services as well as International Trade Permits will be able to assist with those requirements.

Certificates of Origin (CO)

A certificate of origin is required by some countries in order to verify that the commodity being imported to the country qualifies for special consideration upon importation. For example, if you are exporting product into Canada that is manufactured in the US, the product may (depending on the commodity) qualified for duty-free entry.

There are various countries that require the Certificate of Origin to be certified by a local chamber of commerce or by the Consulate it of the destination country. There may also be a requirement for the number of copies needed please check before exporting.

Here are some countries that require Certificate of Origin in order to qualify for duty-free entry under a Free Trade Agreement with the US:

  • Australia (see sample)
  • Bahrain
  • CAFTA-DR  – (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras)
  • Chile
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Morocco
  • Singapore
  • Peru
  • Korea

Although it is a good idea to be active in your local community and be part of the Chamber of Commerce, you do not need to be a member of the local Chamber of Commerce to have them certify a copy of a Certificate of Origin. There will be a charge for the chamber to certify the certificate of origin and the cost will vary depending on the local chamber. It tends to fluctuate between $10–$20 and some chambers do not charge their members.


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