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An overview of shipping documentation required for exporting, freight forwarders, and how the U.S. Commercial Service can assist exporters. This article is part of "A Basic Guide to Exporting", provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, to assist companies in exporting.

Your company should seriously consider having the freight forwarder handle the documentation that exporting requires. Forwarders are specialists in this process. Several documents are commonly used in exporting, but the ones required in a particular transaction depends on the requirements of the U.S. government and the government of the importing country.

Documentation must be precise because slight discrepancies or omissions may prevent merchandise from being exported, may result in nonpayment, or may even result in the seizure of the exporter’s goods by U.S. or foreign customs officials. Collection documents are subject to precise time limits and may not be honored by a bank if the time has expired. Most documentation is routine for freight forwarders and customs brokers, but as the exporter, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the necessary documents.

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