Need for Export Documentation (Exim Documentation)

No business will be carried out without the help of documents, hence their is a Need for Export Documentation (Exim Documentation). International trade/business developed, over the centuries, in an unstructured and adhoc manner as countries exchanged goods and products they excelled in for those, which they lacked. Documents accompanying these transactions also followed a similarly haphazard path. Numerous documents were required in a variety of formats for each export shipment. An order number might appear on the right or the left side of a form; addresses could be shown as lines or blocks.


The situation has started to improve in the mid-1960s with the document alignment work initiated by Sweden, standards developed by the Trade Facilitation Working Party of the UN/ECE (WPA) and the 1965 publication of the United Kingdom Board of Trade’s Simpler Export Documents.


Need for Export Documentation

An exporter is required to deal with various documents both at the pre-shipment and post-shipment stages to complete the export transaction.


These documents are important for two reasons:

(i)         as an evidence of shipment and title of goods,” and

(ii)        for obtaining payment.


The shipment is represented by the set of documents once the goods have been cleared by the customs for their transportation to the importer. These documents are equally important for both the exporter and the importer. The importer needs them to claim peaceful and legal possession and delivery of the goods in his country the exporter needs to hand them over to him to claim payment for the shipment.


The documentary requirements are both regulatory and operational in nature, and the necessary documents should be prepared to comply with the rules and regulations of the exporting and the importing country. Moreover, these requirements are different for different types of products. When exporting for the first time, the exporter should, therefore, always find out from the buyer the documents required by him/ her for the import of the product.


Accuracy and completeness are of paramount importance in documents covering export shipments. Whether two or ten copies of the invoice are required by the buyer, the same should be supplied as the buyer probably has some reasons for it. Minor discrepancies in the documents, which look harmless sometimes, assume menacing form either in the data themselves or in typing. The changes should not be made using erasures, or strike over in typing or in ink as these only arouse the suspicion that the documents have been tampered with. If any alteration or addition has been made by an authority issuing the documents, the exporter should ensure that the same has been endorsed by it properly under the signatures of the person issuing the documents only. If the documents are not the correct, or if they are not filled in correctly to the last, importer may not be able to obtain the delivery of the goods. This may appear to be very trivial but any lapse of this kind may result in difficulties and penalties for the importer.


The main purpose of the documents accompanying a shipment is to provide a specific and complete description of the goods so that they can be assessed correctly for duty purpose and meet the import licensing requirements or import quota restrictions imposed on the goods for clearance purpose. If there are any discrepancies in the documents, and/ or the required documents are not produced, the shipment may not be al lowed for import or may even be con fiscated by the customs of the importing country.


The documentation work should be handled by the professionals in this field. Large export firms have their separate export documentation department headed by Documentation Managers. The small exporters can however, take the services of the clearing and forwarding agent to prepare the shipment documents.


The exporter should also develop the habit of scrutinizing the documents for any possible errors or discrepancies and if there is any, rectify them before sending them to the importer.