Document Forms and Examples

Whenever you sell, ship, or deliver products overseas, paperwork is needed to document the process. Here we explain some common forms you are likely to encounter, and offer downloadable templates of each.

Please read-on, or if you prefer, click here for a webinar on the subject

You can also download the following sample documents and forms: blank shipping, completed shipping, blank carnet, and completed carnet.

Here are some of the most common export document templates:

ATA Carnet – An ATA Carnet (pronounced kar-nay) is often referred to as a “passport for your goods.” Essentially, it is a customs document that lets you temporarily export and import nonperishable goods tax-free and duty-free for up to a year. ATA Carnets are especially useful for tradeshow exhibitors, salespeople, artists, athletes, TV crews, technicians, and event participants. To learn more click here.

Certificate of Origin – States the origin of the products being exported. This document is required by certain countries or by the terms of a letter of credit to verify the country of origin. A local Chamber of Commerce may certify and stamp this form, if required. A standard document exists, but certain countries have a specific form that is required for existing free trade agreements. 

Commercial Invoice– The basic agreement and payment term from seller to buyer. This document contains all pertinent information related to the transaction. Customs officials use this document to determine duties and taxes on goods in the shipment. 

Formal Quotation Letter – A follow-up quotation to an inquiry. This document is not required, but is often used to follow up on a request for a quotation from a potential buyer. Detailed information is given to inform the potential buyer of all aspects of the transaction. (Click here for a form template.)

Packing List  – This itemizes the contents of each package (box, pallets, skids, etc.) This document includes weights, measurements and detailed contents of each package. It should be attached to the outside of a package and/or included inside the package. This document is used by shippers and forwarders to determine freight costs. It is also used by U.S. and/or foreign customs officials to check the contents of any specifc package. 

Pro Forma Invoice – A formal export quotation in invoice format. This document is important because once signed by both parties it is an enforcable as a contract. A pro-forma is often used by buyers to support an application for a Letter of Credit and/or import license. It spells out the price of the goods, the shipping terms (type and costs), and the sales terms. 

Shippers Letter of Instruction  – The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction is the instructions to the Freight Forwarder about how and where to send the export shipment. 

For pdf samples of several export documents click below: