International shipping: what documents are needed to send goods by air?

What documents are needed for air cargo transportation

Invoice, air waybill, certificates of conformity and other documents are required documents for air cargo (for international air transportation).

The international shipping industry relies on documentation that meets the criteria and rules set by the sending and destination countries. It is very important to prepare detailed information about your goods. And the recipient and the purpose of the shipment. In some cases, the business owner also needs to obtain the appropriate license for their products.
The accompanying documents determine the fate of your cargo. If they are not properly processed, it can lead to a delay or “freezing” of the parcel at customs.
To ship goods by air, you need to fill out and submit several important forms. Depending on where the goods are sent to and what class of goods you are exporting, you may only need some or all of the documents from the list below.


Regardless of the size and type of cargo, shipping documentation must include a commercial invoice. This type of invoice includes a detailed line-by-line description of each item in the shipment. The document also indicates the cost of each item, as well as the total cost of the shipment. Some countries may require the use of their own specialized invoices.
The merchant invoice also includes basic information about the shipment. Such as the name and address of the sender and the seller. And the terms of delivery and payment. The buyer can use this document to prove ownership, and some governments calculate customs duties based on the invoice.

Consular account

In some countries, a consular account is required to verify and identify imported goods. For this, the invoice must be certified by the consulate of the country to which the goods are delivered, and translated into the language of the country of the consignee.

Certificate of origin

The certificate of origin is used to declare the country of origin of the shipment. This is very important for customs clearance purposes. Because each international airport has separate rules and regulations based on where the goods were produced from. The certificate of origin is usually certified by authorized semi-official organizations. Please note that this document may be required even if the commercial invoice contains the same information.


The bill of lading or waybill shall indicate the data of the sender and recipient of the goods, as well as the type and quantity of goods. A bill of lading is essentially a contract between the owner of the cargo and the carrier. A similar document is drawn up when registering domestic cargo transportation.
It is worth knowing that there are two types of bills of lading. The first – direct – is not subject to discussion or change. On the other hand, a negotiable bill of lading or a bill of lading on behalf of the shipper can be bought, sold or exchanged while the goods are in transit. This type of invoice is often used for letter of credit transactions.
In order to prove ownership and take possession of the goods, the customer usually needs the original bill of lading or a copy of it.

Export Packing List

The export packing list usually contains more information than its counterpart used for domestic shipments.
Here are some examples of what this document might include:

  • freight cost in US dollars (exchange rate on the day of shipment);
  • full name and address of the shipper;
  • identification number of the shipping company #;
  • full name and address of the consignee;
  • detailed product specification;
  • number of product units;
  • cargo weight;
  • place of origin of goods.

The shipper usually uses the packing slip to check the weight and volume of the item. Customs officers can also use this list to check the package contents.

Certificates of conformity

In some cases, recipients may request a certificate of conformity. This document confirms the specification of the goods shipped. Verification is usually performed by a third party. Before shipping your cargo, be sure to check if you need a certificate of conformity from an independent testing organization.

Destination Control Statement

This document is usually attached to merchant invoices, air waybill and shipper’s export declaration (SED). The declaration notifies the carrier and all foreign parties that the goods can only be exported to certain destinations.

Additional Documentation

Some shipments may require additional documentation. It depends on the type of item being sent and the country of destination.
Here are some documents you might need:

  • Dock receipt;
  • warehouse receipt;
  • certificate of insurance;
  • export license;
  • fumigation certificate;
  • declaration of dangerous goods, etc.

What problems can arise in case of incorrect cargo registration?

While ensuring the accuracy and completeness of cargo documentation can be burdensome, it is important to do it right.
Even small mistakes and omissions can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • delay in sending your shipment;
  • increased storage cost (until appropriate documentation is received);
  • Penalties for missing or incorrect documentation;
  • Failure to receive payment from the recipient.

Proper paperwork is an important aspect of exporting goods. Therefore, this work should be entrusted to an experienced company that has gained trust in the market.

In Time express delivery of goods , parcels, cargoes from Asia, America, Europe to Ukraine

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