Common Documentation for International Sea Shipping, Vehicle Shipping and Moving Goods Overseas

Are you moving overseas and interested in shipping household goods, personal items, furniture, a car or other goods to your final destination? If you need international cargo shipping to the United Kingdom, Australia, India, France, Costa Rica, or somewhere else in the world, there is some important paperwork that you will likely need to get in order.

International shipping typically requires a variety of different forms and documents based on the country of origin and your final destination. For example, if you are shipping a 20′ or 40′ container filled with your household goods and personal items overseas, you will likely need to provide a detailed packing list.

It is important to note the language that this packing list is required to be written in and to understand the level of detailed required, as well. Sometimes you’ll be required to provide it in two languages. For example, if you are shipping cargo to Norway, you should plan to have a detailed inventory with one copy written in English and one in Norwegian.

For many countries, simply listing “miscellaneous” on a box is not enough information for customs officials. Typically providing a more detailed packing list is helpful to best move your shipment through the customs process. For example, if you are shipping appliances to India, be prepared to provide information that indicates date purchased and itemized with brand, model, and serial numbers.

You may also be required to list the quantity and value of your items. If you are required to provide a declared value inventory, you will need to list of all of the items that you want to insure, with the replacement value for each item.

In addition, as your boxes are packed for international shipment, it is helpful to place any items that may be of particular interest to customs officials in an easily accessible location. For example, some countries have restrictions on controversial printed materials, electronic goods, or weapons of any type. These items should be positioned in the container so that they are readily available during the inspection process.

In order to qualify for duty free shipments which are sometimes allowed on used household goods and used personal items, it is sometimes necessary to provide documentation that offers a proof of residence in the country that you are shipping from and/or in the country to which you are planning on relocating. You may also be required to provide a letter from your current or future employer, a contract of employment, renting contract, utility bill and/or a letter explaining why you are returning to a given country if you are a citizen who has been away for an extended period of time.

As noted above, depending on where you are shipping to and from, the required documents for sea shipping may vary. This is something an experienced cargo shipping company can give you more information about based on where you are shipping your goods. Aside from customs forms that are often country specific, some of the documentation that is often required includes the following:

  1. Copy of your passport
  2. Visa (if applicable)
  3. Residency Card or Provisional Residency Card (if applicable)
  4. Bill of Lading or Airway Bill – which is a document issued by a carrier to a shipper in order to recognize the receipt of a cargo shipment for delivery

If you are moving overseas or returning after having been away for a while, you may also be required to provide some tax related identification. For example, if you are moving somewhere in Europe, and are already a European resident, you can use your European Community Card information for tax purposes. In Spain, those without a European Community Card may request a NIE number for tax identification purposes. Other countries have their own rules and requirements.

Paperwork Required for International Vehicle Shipping

If you are shipping a car, motorcycle, or some other type of vehicle overseas, you will likely be required to provide some important information. The required documents do vary by country but there is some required documentation that is quite common regardless of where you are shipping. For example, if you are shipping a car overseas, you often must provide an original certificate of title or deed for the vehicle. In Australia, Canada, and the U.S., this vehicle certificate of title is a legal document that specifies the person or company that owns and is legally responsible for the vehicle.

Other documents that are typically required for international car shipping include the following:

  • Purchase Invoice for the vehicle
  • Receipt of sales tax
  • Registration Certificate for vehicle
  • Insurance Certificate or Policy
  • Copy of Driver’s License
  • Certificate of Origin

In terms of vehicle insurance, you may be required to provide information about insurance coverage in your country of origin as well as interim insurance coverage in your final destination.

There are a number of country and region-specific paperwork requirements that a dependable and experienced cargo shipping company can help you navigate. For example, if you are shipping a vehicle to Puerto Rico, you’ll need to provide a notarized letter from the vehicle lienholder showing VIN number, model, make and copy of title. If you are shipping a vehicle to Kenya, you’ll need a pre-inspection certificate, a Kenya Review Authority (KRA) Pin Card and a vehicle log book.

In addition, some countries have very strict laws about the types of vehicles that can be imported based around age of the vehicle and emissions testing. In these situations, you may be required to provide some type of documentation that shows that your vehicle has passed emissions testing.

For example, if you are shipping a car to Costa Rica, it must undergo a Smog Test. Similarly, if you are shipping a car to Peru, you will need to provide an Inspection Certificate and a Gas Emissions Certificate. A vehicle emissions test examines a vehicle’s emissions to identify whether it exceeds specified levels of identified pollutants like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons.

There is typically a considerable amount of paperwork and documentation required for international sea shipping. This is something that a reliable and experienced cargo shipping company to make your shipping experience positive.

Ms. Bodner is an international cargo shipping expert at Cargo Experts. Licensed, bonded, and insured, Cargo Experts specializes in international cargo shipping, ocean freight, auto shipping, refrigerated containers, and import and export services. Free freight quotes available online at []. For more information about cargo shipping, ocean freight, and reefer containers, call toll free 1-866-994-7822.