Documentation and Invoicing Requirements for Exports: Place of Supply Considerations

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Documentation is very important for getting your goods delivered. Exporting is not easy, especially if goods are to be exported internationally. Certain rules and regulations need proper acceptance.

Violations of these rules can stop the timely delivery of goods or worsen the export process internationally or domestically. The place of supply matters the most because it’s the place where the goods are supposed to be delivered/exported on time.

Once the goods go through all the documents, supply chain, and customs and finally come to the logistics so that they can be put into the vessel, be it an airplane or ship, your product is ready to be delivered to the desired port.

Let’s learn more about the documentation and invoicing of exports concerning the place of supply.

Mandatory export documents

A few documents need to be included; if you opt to export goods or services internationally, that will not happen.

The basic documents needed at the time of export and before the time of export have to be with the exporter all the time to save himself from any problems. You must keep these documents with you to successfully deliver your goods to the destination location and make money from your exportation business.

  • Proforma invoice

It all starts once you get an inquiry about the goods or products you are willing to export. You will need a standard quotation if you inquire about domestically transferred goods.

However, you would be required to pay a proforma invoice for international exports. This document helps you with the financing, enables you to open a letter of credit (LC) for the import letter, and so on. 

  • Commercial invoice

This document contains all the details of the international goods you want to export. Once you confirm your order from the buyer’s side, you start preparing this document. It looks a lot like the proforma invoice.

  • Packing list

A packing list is required at different stages of the export process. You may be asked for it by the logistics department so that they can create a bill of lading for the shipment. It is needed by the bank so that the payment can be made under the LC. Lastly, the customs department needs a packing list to check and verify the goods being exported.

  • Certificate of origin

A certificate of origin is sometimes needed—not by all countries but by some. This certificate determines where the goods originated from. Even if all the relevant data is already included in the commercial invoice, this certificate will still be needed for further verification.

  • Certificate of free sale 

This certificate is important, especially for food, beverages, cosmetics, and medicines. This certificate shows that these goods that are being exported are openly being sold in the open market and have been approved by the local authorities.

  • Shipper’s letter of instruction

An important step towards getting your goods delivered to their intended location is the freight forwarder/logistics department. This letter helps move forward with the shipment process. It’s shown to the forwarder, which helps with the shipment process.

  • Inland bill of lading

You can make this bill yourself or have it prepared by the inland carrier. This bill also determines that the goods have been picked up from the location.

  • Ocean bill of lading 

This bill is needed if the forwarder and the exporter agree to ship the goods on an ocean vessel. There are two types of ocean bills of lading. These are:

  • A straight bill of lading
  • Negotiable bill of lading 
  • Airway bill 

Those goods planned to be exported via airplane need an airway bill. It’s a type of non-negotiable bill lading issued by the IATA, International Air Transport Association. It is an agreement showing the receipt of the goods via the airline as well as the carrier and shipper’s contract of carriage.  

  •  Dangerous goods form

If the shipment is of dangerous products, this form must be exported via any channel. The company or exporter producing these goods must be properly trained to package, label, and get them delivered for the export process. 

  • Bank draft

It is named a documentary collection as this document holds great importance in the export process. The export process needs to receive payments from the buyer.

Also Read: Obligations And Documentation For Tax Invoices On Exported Services

Commercial invoice requirements

This invoice contains different questions and needs to be addressed timely. It mentioned the seller’s name and address where the goods should be exported.

A commercial invoice is needed at every step of the export process. It contains information about the exporter and the importer, the consignee’s name, and the address.

Bill of lading and other shipping documents

This bill is issued by any carrier (means of transport) to a shipper. It is also called a shipment receipt when the carrier transports the goods to the destination.

It’s most needed when the goods are received at the port and the forwarder asks about this bill. Just when your goods are required to be handed over to the logistics department, this bill of lading is needed.

Place of supply on export invoices

The place of supply is where the goods are supposed to be exported/supplied. Invoices are documents containing all the information related to the goods being exported. Invoices play a vital role in the export process.

The export invoice should have an invoice number that shows the date and time when the goods are subjected to being exported. Ensure you provide exact and relevant information about the products you want to ship.

While you want your goods to be exported, you must have an invoice to carry. It’s because this invoice has all the details of the data that is required at the time of exporting goods. For timely delivery, the shipment is thoroughly checked at various points, so this document can save you time and help you ship goods at the said time.

Also Read: Export Tax Invoice And Customs Clearance Procedures

Maintaining proper export records

An exporter or an importer must keep proper records of what they deliver or receive. By maintaining proper records, you can get any information at the time of need or if any problem occurs.

Following are the tips with which you can easily manage to keep records of your export:

  • Get organised 

Organizing yourself can be the best favour you can give yourself before you enter the field of exporting. It’s very important to know that organizing documents can be pivotal in making your work successful. 

  • Use a checklist

The checklist helps find any missed data and organize the export document. In short, it’s time-saving to maintain a checklist. 

  • Learn about exporting in detail

It’s true: ‘The more you know, the less you know’. The more you study about exporting in detail, the more excelled you will be in the said field. Don’t stop learning. 

  • Use document template

Using templates gives you good time-saving information related to the exported goods. Templates have instilled formulas, and they can easily manage the sheet. It’s easy to update them, too. 

  • Use shipping solutions and export documentation software

The best way to maintain export documents is by using export documentation software. It’s the fastest and most time-saving way to meet the needs of the export process. 

  • Maintain proper records of your shipments.

You can track your shipments or related information regarding the exported goods by maintaining proper records. Keeping records can be very helpful in systematically achieving your goals. 

  • Keep your records accessible.

Ensure at least three people can access the main documents containing all the relevant information. Also, don’t forget that these documents have a lot of information, so their security is also very important. 

  • Keep track of your international sales team.

Stay in touch with your international sales team. Knowing how your sales team is keeping up with international clients is important. 

  • Identify who is in charge of your export document. 

Assign a particular employee to save your documents and maintain a proper record. One person should be responsible for seeing where your documents are if any new documents are to be added. 

  • Audit your export compliance efforts.

When a third party audits, it helps you know your improvement areas, where you are lacking, and what changes are needed.

Also Read: Tax Invoice Records And Documentation For Export Transactions


If you plan on doing the export business or own any business where export business is carried out, learn all the process details. The documentation is reasonably necessary for leading the export process.

Suppose any of these documents contain false or wrong information in the case of violating rules. In that case, the exporter may face a problem, which can ruin his reputation in the open market.


Q1. What documentation is required for exporting goods?

The following documents need utmost importance when it comes to exporting goods. These are:

  • Certificate of origin 
  • Bill of lading
  • Airway bill
  • Export license
  • Inspection certificate 
  • Warehouse receipt
  • Packing list 
  • Commercial invoice 

Q2. What is required on an export invoice?

The following are the key points that are required on an export invoice:

  1. Identification of invoice
  2. Parties that are involved
  3. Description of the goods
  4. Financial information 
  5. Additional information related to paperwork, payment methods, and packaging. 

Q3. What is an export checklist?

An export checklist states a list of tasks that are required for a successful export process from one place to another. The components of the checklist are:

  1. After-sales service
  2. Payment 
  3. Logistics 
  4. Documentation 
  5. Pre-export planning 

Q4. Who issues the bill of lading?

It’s a legal document with details of the exporter’s goods and services, which also include the due amount from the importer. To verify the shipment’s content, it’ll help the customs authorities correctly calculate the duties and taxes applicable to it.

This bill is issued by any carrier (means of transport) to a shipper. It is also called a shipment receipt when the carrier transports the goods to the destination.  This bill is signed by the shipper, receiver, and carrier, which is a title for the goods acting as a receipt.  

Q5. What is the export bill?

If an exporter issues a bill with the details of the amount and the payment terms of the exported goods or services to an importer, it is an export bill. In exchange for quick cash,  the exporter can discount the value.

It serves as proof for a transaction between two parties, a buyer and a seller, and is used by the government to levy applicable tax, claim insurance, and clear customs. It’ll also aid the importer in utilizing the export bill.

Q6. What are pre-export documents?

The pre-export documents are any required documents before the export is done. They are equally important and needed during export or when the goods are about to get exported to the desired location. 

Q7. What is a packing list?

It’s a beneficial document, as it contains all the information regarding the product. The box and pallet details are also included in it. Every detail of the items that are planned to be exported is included in the packing list. The list can either be kept within the box or pallet or attached to the outside of the box.

It is different compared to a commercial invoice showing the amount of money an importer must pay to the exporter. It can be used for inventory management, insurance claims, and customs clearance.  

Q8. What is an export declaration?

It is any document category with relevant information about the goods exported from the country. An export declaration is an important document that is used for multiple purposes, such as:

  1. To ensure the compliance process 
  2. They can be used for monitoring the movement of goods
  3. With the help of this document, illegal exports can be identified. 

Q9. Who is responsible for the export declaration?

The following are the factors upon which the export declaration depends. These are: 

  1. Country of export: Every country has its own set of rules that vary with time. This impacts the export declaration as well. 
  2. Direct vs. indirect export: It also depends on the goods category. 

Q10. What are the different types of exporting?

There are two different types of exporting. These are:

  • Direct exporting: exporting goods and services to clients directly. The products are sold to overseas customers without any middlemen. 

Indirect exporting: exporting goods and services to clients through an agent, company, or intermediary. 

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Amitha Shet Content Writer
Amitha is a creative enthusiast, which gets her into educating the world about things she comprehends. Finance, business, and digital transformation are the topics that she is profoundly interested in so that she can make things simpler for the audience. She is currently a content strategist for a fintech company. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering, although finance is a niche that piques her interest to not just educate but to invest and gain experience.

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