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Export Documents Required for Exporting to Non-EU Countries


The export invoice should show normal invoice details plus a full description of the goods including item price, net weight (in kilos) and the country of origin. Customs authorities use the commercial invoice to verify the details of the consignment; it is therefore good practice that the invoice has a signed and dated declaration that the facts are true and correct. For some countries there are specific requirements on the layout, form or content of the invoice. You can find out more about these special invoices from SITPRO, or your freight forwarder or SITPRO Exporting Guide: Exporting Goods from the UK 3 specialist trade publications. You could also ask your customer if there is any special wording or clauses that you should include on the invoice.

  • The B/L has been used for hundreds of years as a document related to the sale of goods in international trade. It provides evidence of the contract between the exporter and carrier, receipt that the goods have been received into the custody of the carrier and is a document of title - allowing the ownership of the goods to be transferred while the goods are at sea. The B/L is usually completed by the agent or carrier.

  • The AWB is the equivalent of the SWB for shipments in the air environment. As with the SWB (Sea Way Bill) it is not a document of title.

  • The SAD (Customs Form C88) is the Customs declaration document for export, imports and goods transiting the European Union (EU). It is required for all exports, except postal exports and must accompany the goods to the point of exit from the EU. Guidance on completing the SAD is available in the Customs UK Tariff, Volume 3. However, new exporters may consider it prudent to employ a freight forwarder to complete the form on their behalf. A copy of the SAD stamped by Customs provides evidence that the goods were exported. 

  • The Certificate of Origin is required by some countries as evidence of the origin of the goods. They are available from local Chambers of Commerce and are usually completed by the exporter. There are two types of Certificate of Origin: the European Union version, and the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce version required by some Arab nations. Both documents must be stamped by the appropriate Chamber of Commerce before they are valid. In some instances the Certificate of Origin and other accompanying commercial documents may also need to be legalised by the UK Embassy of the country of import.

  • The EUR1 is used to claim preferential (reduced or even zero) rates of duty in the country of importation. To qualify the goods must fully meet the rules of origin in the exporting country and be accompanied by a correctly completed and endorsed EUR1. The preference system only applies to countries where trade agreements exist with the EU, and benefit the buyer by making goods cheaper to import. The EUR1 form should be completed by the exporter.

    There are often simplifications with the EUR1 system that you should check before using the document. Some countries have agreed that where a consignment is below a certain threshold value either a specific invoice declaration or, in some cases, an EUR2 can be used instead. Details on how the preferential trade agreements work, how to complete the EUR1 form and how to take advantage of the simplification measures are contained in three Public Notices Nos. 827 (a General Guide), 828 and 829 (information on the rules of origin and the export procedures for countries with preference trade agreements) and can be obtained from HM Revenue & Customs.

    There have been isolated instances where some overseas Customs authorities have insisted on the production of a full EUR1 document despite specific agreement to accept the simplified procedures either an EUR2 or invoice declaration. 

  • ATR

    The ATR applies only for exports to Turkey and has a similar function to the EUR1. The major difference with the ATR is that the goods do not have to be of EU origin to attract a zero rate of duty, only in free circulation in the EU (all duties and taxes paid into the EU). The ATR form must be completed by the exporter. Details on how the export preference system with Turkey works and how to complete the form are contained in Public Notice No. 812 and can be obtained from HM Revenue & Customs.

If you’re exporting from UK, please check with your local DHL Global Forwarding contacts if a power of attorney is required to clear the freight in certain countries i.e USA/CA.

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