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Step 17: Export documentation
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Export documentation


The export process is made more complex by the wide variety of documents that the exporter needs to complete to ensure that the order reaches its destination quickly, safetly and without problems. These documents range include those required by the South African authorities (such as bills of entry, foreign exchange documents, export permits, etc.), those required by the importer (such as the proforma and commercial invoices, certifcates of origin and health, and pre-shipment inspection documents), those required for payment (such as the South African Reserve Bank forms, the letter of credit and the bill of lading) and finally, those required for transportation (such as the bill of lading, the airwaybill or the freight transit order). Documentation requirements for export shipments also vary widely according to the country of destination and the type of product being shipped. Most exporters rely on an international freight forwarder to handle the export documentation because of the multitude of documentary requirements involved in physically exporting goods and it is strongly recommended that you also make use of a freight forwarder to help you work your way through the maze of documentation. Click here for a list of freight forwarders that you can approach to help you.

The benefits of documentation

Documentation is a key means of conveying information from one person or company to another, and also serves as permanent proof of tasks and actions undertaken throughout the export process. Documentation is not only required for your own business purposes and that of your business partner, but also to satisfy the customs authorities in both countries and to facilite the transportation of and payment for goods sold.

One value of documentation is that copies can be made and shared with the parties involved in the export process (although you should always ensure that you make identical copies from an agreed-upon master - it is no use making changes without the other party's agreement and then presenting these as the "latest" copies). If the documentation is complete, accurate, agreed upon by the parties involved and signed by each of these of these parties (or their representatives), the document will represent a legally binding document.

Function of export documentation

Export documentation may serve any or all of the following functions:

  • An attestation of facts, such as a certificate of origin
  • Evidence of of the terms and conditions of a contract if carriage, such as in the case of an airwaybill
  • Evidence of ownership or title to goods, such as in the case of a bill of lading
  • A promissory note; that is, a promise to pay
  • A demand for payment, as with a bill of exchange
  • A decalaration of liability, such as with a customs bill of entry
  • A receipt for goods received.

Source: JCCI Exporter's Manual

Broad categories of export documentation

There are five broad categories of documentation you will encounter when exporting. These are:

  1. Documents involving the importer
  2. Documents required to export goods from South Africa
  3. Documents required for transportation
  4. Documents required for payment
  5. Insurance documents

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Step 17: more information

      . Documents involving the importer
      . Documents required to export goods from South Africa
      .Documents required for transportation
      .Documents required for payment
      . Marine Insurance

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More information on Step 17
Learning to export... The export process in 21 easy steps
Step 1: Considering exporting
Step 2:Current business viability
Step 3:Export readiness
Step 4:Broad mission statement and initial budget
Step 5:Confirming management's commitment to exports
Step 6: Undertaking an initial SWOT analysis of the firm
Step 7:Selecting and researching potential countries abroad
Step 8: Preparing and implementing your export plan
Step 9: Obtaining financing for your exports
Step 10: Managing your export risk
Step 11: Promoting the firm and its products abroad
Step 12: Negotiating and quoting in exports
Step 13: Revising your export costings and price
Step 14: Obtaining the export order
Step 15: Producing the goods
Step 16: Handling the export logistics
Step 17: Export documentation
Step 18: Providing follow-up support
Step 19: Getting paid
Step 20: Reviewing and improving the export process
Step 21: Export Management
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