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Secrets of International Trade

Certificate of Value.


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"The purpose is to discourage "double invoicing" whereby the importer presents one invoice for customs duty but pays the exporter a larger sum"

Many countries require the exporter to complete and sign a Certificate of Value

In this document, the exporter states that the invoice contains a true and full statement of the price paid for the goods by the importer and that there is no other arrangement between the exporter and the foreign buyer about the purchase price.

The purpose is to discourage double invoicing whereby the importer presents one invoice for customs duty calculation but in fact pays the exporter a larger sum based on true invoice.

Often no separate document is required for the statement of value. Consular invoices usually contain a space in which a declaration of value must be made.

Sometimes, a Chamber of Commerce or similar organization must certify the value of the goods before the Certificate of Value is acceptable to the Customs authorities in the importing country.




Bill of Lading

A document supplied to the exporter by the shipping company that is transporting the goods to their foreign destination, listing, item by item, the goods being shipped. It serves three basic purpose:

1. To acknowledge receipt by the carrier of the exporter's goods.

2. To indicate the carrier's contractual obligation to transport the goods to their destination in exchange for payment.

3. To record transfer of title (or ownership) from the seller to the buyer when payment for the goods takes place. Airlines use what is called an Air Waybill.

There are two basic types of bill of lading: the "straight bill" and the "order bill".

1. A straight bill of lading is a non-negotiable document, made out to a specifically named consignee, from which the steamship company acknowledges receipt of the freight and agrees to move it to its destination.

Unlike an order bill, the straight bill does not have to be surrendered to the carrier in order for the importer to obtain possession of the goods.


2. An Order bill of lading is a document that is made out to the order of of the foreign importer or its bank, or the order of the export firm, its bank, or another designated party.

Title to goods being shipped is given by possession of the bill of lading that bears the exporter's endorsement. Often, this endorsement is in blank, thus giving ownership of the goods to the person possessing the bill, and therefore making the bill highly negotiable.

The order bill of lading is handed over only when the foreign importer has paid for the goods or made acceptable credit arrangements.



Customs regulations of most countries specify the number of copies, either negotiable or non-negotiable, of the bill of lading that must be supplied for customs purposes.

Some Latin American countries prohibit or otherwise discourage the use of order bills of lading. Therefore the export firm should first check as to the type of bill that is acceptable in the country to which it is planning to ship its goods.

For each shipment, two or three negotiable or signed bills of lading are usually issued, plus as many more non-negotiable copies as may be required. The latter are clearly marked non-negotiable.

Where these bills have to be presented in duplicate or triplicate at the Customs of the foreign country, it is usual to supply one negotiable copy with each set of documents, plus as many non-negotiable copies of the bill of lading as are required.

The foreign importer will require a negotiable bill of lading and related documents to clear the goods through Customs. Therefore, the exporter, or its bank, should either forward them on the same ship that carries the goods or send them in advance by airmail.

If the necessary, the papers for clearance are not available or arrive late, severe penalties or excessive storage charges may be incurred.

Bill of lading may possibly be lost in transit, it is customary to send two complete sets of documents, each with a negotiable bill of lading, in successive mail to the foreign importer or to the bank or agent which is to hold this document for collection.

The third negotiable bill of lading are usually kept by the exporter or its bank in case of emergency.

If the exporter wishes to have its bank collect payment from the foreign importer, then it should hand over all the negotiable copies of the bill of lading to its bank so that it has complete control of the export shipment.

Order bills usually carry instructions to the shipping company to notify the consignee (the foreign importer) as soon as the goods arrive at the port of discharge. Another feature of a bill of lading is that it may be a direct one or a through one.

1. A direct bill of lading relates to shipments which are loaded by a shipping company at one port and unloaded at another - in other words, it relates to a direct shipment from one port to another by the same carrier.

2. A through bill of lading, on the other hand, relates to a shipment from one port to another by more than one shipping line.

The goods are taken by the initial carrier from the port of shipment to a port of transshipment where they are then transferred to a vessel of another shipping line for on-carriage to the port of final destination.


Part 1/3
Export documentations, consular invoice, commercial invoice & certificate of origin

Part 2/3 < This Page
About Certificate of Value, bill of lading & cargo manifest?

Part 3/3
About Health certificate, import license, insurance certificate & export declaration form?

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