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US - Logistics & Shipping

5.1 Logistics & Shipping

The two options available to Caribbean producers in exporting to the US are air and sea transportation. Air transport is fast, but it is expensive and not all goods are suited for air transport. Bulkier goods are more suited for sea transport; however this method is a lot slower. No matter which method is used however, all shipments require customs documentation. The following is a summary of requirements:

  • Commercial Invoice (minimum of 3 copies)
  • Certificate of Origin (minimum of 3 copies)
  • Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • Packing List

ommercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is a record or evidence of the transaction between the  exporter  and the importer. Once the goods are available, the exporter issues a commercial invoice to the importer in order to charge him for the goods. The commercial invoice contains the basic information on the transaction and it is always required for customs clearance.

Although some entries specific to the export- import trade are added, it is similar to an ordinary sales invoice. The minimum data generally included are the following:

  • Information on the exporter and the importer (name and address);
  • Date of issue;
  • Invoice number;
  • Description of the goods (name, quality, etc.);
  • Unit of measure;
  • Quantity of goods;
  • Unit value;
  • Total item value;
  • Total invoice value and currency of payment. The equivalent amount must be indicated in a currency freely convertible to Euro or other legal tender in the importing Member State;
  • The  terms of payment (method  and date of payment, discounts, etc.);
  • The terms of delivery according to the appropriate Incoterm;
  • Means of transport.

ertificate of Origin

For goods claiming preferential tariff treatment in the US market such as goods entering the US from the Dominican Republic or Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) CARICOM countries, a Certificate of Origin is required. Once a competent authority in the Dominican Republic or a CBI beneficiary country certifies the origin of the goods being exported to the US, goods are then eligible for customs duty exemptions.

Bill of Lading or Airway Bill

Depending on the mode of transport, a bill of lading (ocean) or airway bill (air) must be completed and presented to US Customs before the goods can be cleared.

Packing List

The packing list (P/L) is a commercial document accompanying the commercial invoice and the transport documents. It provides information on the imported items and the packaging details of each shipment (weight, dimensions, handling issues, etc.). It is required for customs clearance as an inventory  of  the  incoming cargo.

The generally included data are:

  • Information on the exporter, the importer and the transport company;
  • Date of issue;
  • Number of the freight invoice;
  • Type of packaging (drum, crate, carton, box, barrel, bag, etc.);
  • Number of packages;
  • Content of each package (description of the goods and number of items per package);
  • Marks and numbers; and
  • Net weight, gross weight and measurement of the packages.