What Are the Documents Required for Shipping from China?


Before you can have the chance to earn some money from purchasing Chinese items, certain formalities are needed.

Every importer should create and obtain the required documents and then submit the documents necessary for Customs officers, any other authority. China buying agents can help you consolidate all the necessary paperwork and get them in order before the starting of manufacturing process.

But, depending on the location, the list of mandatory documents might differ. The following documents are the most fundamental and widely used documents for international trade. Make sure you get these documents before the arrival of the items, and you will be able to relax and enjoy your time without paying any storage costs on the way to the port.

The list below isn’t exhaustive, but it will provide you with an understanding of the different kinds of documents needed to deliver your items.

Bill of Lading (B/L):

The bill of lading for the ocean is about the sea.

There are a lot of details about the B/L, such as details about the identity of the person who is shipping as well as his name, the consignees and terms of the vessel and the location of its departure and destination, along with the signature and weight of the items. It is among the essential documents for international transport.

For the buyer, the buyer, the bill of lading is proof of the ownership of the merchandise. Whoever has the bill of sale has the power to demand delivery by the company of the items and is entitled to own and sell the merchandise.

Today the telex bill lading is widely utilized, meaning that the recipient doesn’t require an original bill of lading and can exchange the order and then pick up the merchandise using the stamped bills of lading.

The telex bill of lading refers to the Invoice of lading and a duplicate of the bill lading with the words “Telex Release” or “Surrendered” issued by the shipping company or agent.

Be sure to get your bill of lading before when the goods reach your destination’s port. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take the merchandise.

Consular Invoice:

A consular invoice is a bill issued by the consulate in the importing country to the exporting nation. The exporter must fill out the form provided by the consulate before issuing an invoice by obtaining the consular visa.

The Invoice confirms that the items are exported, and the importing country utilizes the Invoice to avoid dumping the goods. Since it is used as a basis to calculate the tariffs for imports, it’s easy for the merchandise to clear the customs of the country that imports them.

Some countries require consular invoices. It’s similar to an invoice for commercial transactions, which includes the amount of the product and the addresses and names of sellers and buyers and any other pertinent information.

Air waybill:

The air waybill is a reference to air transportation, and the document for transport will be issued by the airline company. Your China buying agents will help you get it.

It’s the acknowledgement of the cargo delivered by the transporter and the carriage contract between the shipper and the carrier. The air waybill is not negotiable.

Proforma invoice (PI):

The Invoice in the proforma provides all the pertinent information regarding the shipping through China buying agents (how many goods are being shipped and what their features and dimensions are).

It is important to note that it includes the final price, which can help importers make their final buying decision. It’s not an invoice, but it can be regarded as a legally binding contract.

Proforma invoices are created by the company that is exporting. The customs office might accept (and require the Commercial Invoice to be issued after) in certain countries or regions.

US Customs may use proforma invoices for assessing tariffs. Banks and other financial institutions typically accept proforma invoices to sign credit letters on the importer’s behalf.

Commercial Invoice (CI):

An invoice for commercial transactions is an official document provided by the seller that contains the product’s name, quantity, and price.

Commercial invoices are invoices issued by sellers to buyers that outline the agreement with the buyer and seller over the nature of the purchase or sale of items.

Commercial invoices are required when it comes to international trade. It is used for customs clearance and tax collection, and customs clearance in certain countries requires original invoices.

The database also lists the items being moved, the address of the transport and the names of those involved in the transportation of the items.

Certificate of Origin (CO):

It is a document that demonstrates that the products of a particular export product are produced, sourced or made within a specific region or country.

A certificate of origin is an official certificate issued by the government department in the country exporting to confirm the source or manufacturing of the products. It is used primarily by the customs department of the importer country to set differing tariffs on imported goods—rates to serve as the basis of different policies of the nation.

The origin certificate is issued to the importer. In general, there are two kinds of origin certificates.

The first is the non-preferential certification of origin states the country of origin. However, the products do not receive any requirements for special treatment. The preferred certificate is used by China buying agents to identify countries that have agreements on trade with China.

If you import products from China, the document of origin issued is by the department of customs part of China’s government. Contact your agent before receiving the products. It is a cost, but it doesn’t exceed 50USD.

Import permit:

Certain countries require importers to get licenses to import certain products in advance, or else they cannot be involved in this type of business.

The countries that restrict imports are for local security. Thus, if foreign businesses would like to import products, they must apply for an import permit.

Checklist for packing:

It is a packing document—A form of documentation that lists the items included in the package.

As an additional document attached to invoices, this spells out the information of the packing materials that have been agreed between the buyer and seller so that buyers from other countries and customs officers can examine the merchandise upon arrival.


You understand how to prepare the documents in particular. You have to be careful, or else small mistakes in the records can result in delays for your goods through customs for a lengthy period.

For the worst part, you’ll have to pay the penalty. To avoid this, you should contact your international transport provider or customs broker to help in completing all document needs. International transport is a complex matter, since each nation’s requirements are continuously evolving, and a myriad of documents must be handled.

If you aren’t aware of the regulations in transportation and import and aren’t able to handle these requirements, you will need to hire China buying agents to take care of it on the behalf of your company.