Home Knowledge Base International Trade International Trade Documents

International Trade Documents

When engaging in international trade you may come across different documents. So, it is important to know these international trade documents, and their importance as well as the content of each documents.

We will study few major documents involved in international trade other than to the transport document.

Purchase Order| PO

Consignee generates the purchase order. The purchase order contains the product detail and quantity which consignee wishes to purchase. In general, consignee issues the purchase order against the quotation. So the purchase order contains the product details, prices, quantity, shipment date, seller details, purchase order number and the terms and conditions.

Most importantly, both consignee and consignor agreed purchase order becomes a contract before the law binding both parties

Proforma Invoice

The proforma invoice or the PI some says PFI is a document issued by the consignor prior to the cargo dispatch. Some consignors share the quotation for products as a proforma invoice.  PI is helpful for consignee to apply for import licenses, open Letter of Credit and arrange other pre-shipment work. If the payment is “Advance”, payment can arrange by presenting the PI to the bank. The proforma invoice contains all the details same as in commercial invoice.

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is the main document which contains the value of cargo.  In general, the commercial invoice has details of per-unit cost, total quantity, price, total payable value. Other than that, it also has the name and address of the supplier, date, sometimes the customer name. The other most important element is the currency of the price. If cargo damage/loss during the voyage due to a sacrifice cargo claim or the value for goods calculate by considering the value in the commercial invoice.

If the INCOTERM is CIF some countries request to show a cost breakdown in commercial invoice. You have to present the commercial invoice to the customs or border control body when cargo clearance. As well as value in the commercial invoice has to mention in the CusDec. Further, commercial invoice use for the tax settlement in many countries. For the exporter, it acts as evidence of sales too. A commercial invoice issue only after a transaction takes place.

Packing List

The packing list has similar information as the commercial invoice. The difference is the packing list doesn’t contain any detail on cargo value and the prices. Thus, it has a detailed list of cargo. The details include the weight, cargo categories, cbm volume, sometimes an identification code for each category, description of items, number of packages shipping and package marking and invoice number. For some countries, a packing list is a must when cargo clearance. Most of the time a packing list paste on the packages other than to the one sent to the consignee. This is very helpful for customs house agents when clearing the cargo. Also, it is helpful to identify the packages and sorting at the consignee’s warehouse.

Certificate of Origin (CO| COO)

The certificate of origin issues to emphasise the origin or the manufacturing country of the cargo. If product resale without a value addition certificate origin should be the same even the same product resales several times. CO is a must for the CO contain the country of manufacturing, exporter’s name and address, importer’s name and address, cargo description, HS code, quantity and the cbm, the batch number of the product lot if any. The chamber of commerce issues the certificate of origin. CO is important in customs clearance as it helps to identify whether the cargo should accept to the country or not.

 Analytical Certificate

The analytical certificate or the certificate of analysis test shows the quality and the purity of the product or the material. This is mostly used for the animal and plant products as well as the pharmaceutical products.  For plant products level of salmonella and E- Coli (Escherichia coli) should be less than 10%.

Kosher Certificate

The kosher certificate also confirms the product or the raw materials are fit for the consumption. Also, confirm the packing is as per the kosher requirements. The kosher certificate comes with the Jewish law and not every customer will ask for this.

Phytosanitary Certificate

The phytosanitary certificate certifies the quality of the material. Further, it confirms whether the materials meet the minimum sanitary requirements. The only government authorised agents can issue the certificate. Phytosanitary mainly uses for edible products like meat, herbs or plants and its parts and any other food recognise which should get the certification.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hydrogen and Biofuel will be Future Shipping’s Fuel

MSC said they will be further exploring the viability of hydrogen and fuels derived from it as a possible fuel source for...

LR Awards Digital Safe Security Certification to “Ever Forward”

LR has awarded Digital Safe Security certification to Evergreen Marine Corp. Ltd. (Evergreen), for its latest 12,000 TEU ultra large container ship...

DCSA Releases Standards for Cargo Operations

It is essential for the vessel operator to forecast the estimated number of container moves (load and discharge) in order to estimate...

Abu Dhabi Ports Acquires MICCO

With the integration of MICCO as part of Abu Dhabi Ports Logistics, the Group’s logistical arm is setting itself apart from the...

DP World to Strengthen the Business with Israel and Dubai

DP World and Dubai Customs signed a series of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to develop trade links between Israel and the United...

Maersk plans to Open a Carbon Neutral Warehouse in Poland

Maersk plans to Open a Carbon Neutral Phama Warehouse in Poland. This will add more capacity to the existing warehousing capacity in...

More Articles

Port Models

The majority of the ports in the world are state-owned. A body or an authority administrates the port as the agents of...

10 Largest (Busiest) Ports in the World

10 Largest (or the Busiest) Ports in the World Port of Shanghai

Principles of Insurance

Special Legal Principles Embodied in the Insurance Contract Have you gone through the insurance coverage/contract taken for your goods?....

Freight (Cargo )

The freight article provides you with the knowledge on the terms you must know when dealing with the freight. First, we will...

Largest Shipbuilding Companies in the world 2020

Top 10 Largest Shipbuilding Companies in the world 2020 By Container ship Capacity 01. Samsung Heavy Industries

Vendor Managed Inventory-VMI

What is Vendor Managed Inventory? Vendor Managed Inventory simply says VMI. VMI is an inventory management system or a...