There is more to the world of shipping forms than just bills of lading. In fact, there are at least seven more different types of custom forms in shipping that are worth mentioning. According to a 2013 report by the International Trade Administration, trade (both imports and exports) accounts for more than 60 percent of global GDP. The U.S. totaled $2.3 trillion in exports and trade accounted for 30 percent of the country's overall GDP.
While globalization has increased the overall demand for goods, the methods of shipping have largely remained unchanged. Although there has been a small shift toward shipping documents being pushed electronically, generally speaking shippers, carriers and distributors still deal in paper. It is portable, simple and eliminates the risk of technology failure or a shaky Internet connection. As such, shipping is a stable and very viable market for print distributors. The forms are often purchased as part of repeat orders with a steady demand. With this in mind, here are the most common shipping forms in the trade industry:
1. Commercial Invoice: In the world of shipping, a commercial invoice is the most crucial document. It is the primary form used for duty determination, importation control and valuation via foreign customs agencies. In simpler terms, this sheet of paper identifies what exactly is being shipped, for what and how many. This invoice is drawn up by the exporters but is a required document for the buyer in order to prove ownership and set up avenues for payment.
2. Quick Pass: Just when you thought we were done with bill of lading forms! The quick pass is actually a combined form that includes both a bill of lading and a commercial invoice. This type of a form is a benefit to customers as it cuts cost on forms and allows shippers to save time with the two documents existing in one place.
3. Export Packing List: This shipping form exists essentially as a list of detailed relevant information to an export. The form includes standard information such as invoice number, mode of transportation and quantity, as well as more specific information like total net and gross weight of the product, type of packaging (crate, drum or carton) and dimensions. However, this list cannot serve as a commercial invoice. Its primary use is for customs officials and their inspections of foreign cargo.
4. Shipper's Export Declaration: A shipper's export declaration form is a form required for exports. In the U.S. shipper export declaration forms are for exports amounting to $2,500 U.S. dollars or higher. These forms are also required for goods of any price that require an export license. While in Canada these forms do still exist in paper form, the U.S. has largely made the switch to electronic SED forms.
5. Loss and Damage Claims: These forms are pretty literal in their function. The form details the loss of goods or damage of goods during the transportation process. The forms consist of an estimate of the money these damages or losses will cost your company and must be completed within nine months of the initial delivery. In addition to these forms the party filing the claim must attach a vendor invoice, copy of the freight bill invoice and a copy of the bill of lading.
6. Letter of Authority for Blind Shipments: A blind shipment occurs when multiple parties involved in the movement of goods don't know who exactly is the shipper or receiver of the goods. This type of shipment is most frequently used when the shipper wants to protect customer identity or when suppliers want to drop goods off directly to the customers. However, when these blind shipments occur the party requesting the shipment must fill of a letter of authority. This form includes information regarding shippers, dates of shipment and cargo.
7. Overcharge Claims: Overcharge claim forms are usually filed with carriers and need to be sent and processed within 180 days of billing. The form includes details on the amount that has been overcharged, the recipient of the reimbursement and the party in question. These forms need to be accompanied by a freight bill invoice, an explanation as to why the claim was filed and any other relevant documentation that can support your claim for the overcharge.