Landing the shipment

18 December,2018 | main author

One minute guide.

What is this process?

The process of importing goods involves "landing" them.

Landing happens when goods have reached the import terminal and is the process of getting the goods through import customs. The shipped goods are physically handed over by the freight-forwarder, often to a customs broker working for the buyer. The freight forwarder is the person who has transported the goods this far. With goods handed over, they are then cleared through import customs so that they can be further transported to the buyer's premises in the buyer's country.

Landing involves:

  1. producing the correct shipping documents to the freight forwarder evidencing the right to collect the goods.

  2. having the other documents needed to allow customs to:

  • classify the goods (what are they)

  • understand the value of what is being imported (the price of it)

  • understand where it is has come from (the origin)

  • applying special exemptions from duties like GSP (calculate the duty)

What is involved in releasing the goods?

The freight forwarder has to be careful. He often cannot release the documents simply based upon consents from the exporter and importer.

  • The authorities will want to make sure that the goods are correctly released to the party who has paid for them, in order to counter potential money laundering or trafficking activities.

  • The freight forwarder will be careful because he may have liability if he releases goods to the wrong person.

How goods are released varies from trade to trade. There are different methods in use, including:

  • Physical bill of lading or airways bill: presentation of an original lading document with appropriate releases and endorsements.

  • Telex release from the exporter or the exporter's bank confirming who should pick up the goods.

  • Bank release, where physical documents are required but not received and the transaction is subject to a letter of credit.

  • Other electronic methods may later appear if documents are dematerialized (eg: by blockchain technology).

PrimaDollar, as a trade financier, is often involved in helping to get goods cleared by obtaining releases or providing releases. If you need help or advice, our team is available.

What is needed to clear customs?

Customs need to know exactly what is being brought in, how much it is worth, and where it has come from.

There are a number of documents involved in proving this:

  • Bill of lading, summarises what has been transported.

  • The packing list is a detailed listing of quantity, volume and weight of what has been shipped.

  • The certificate of origin is a sworn document provided by the public authority in the exporter country stating from where the goods have originated.

  • If there are tax treaty exemptions, for example under the GSP system, additional forms will be required (GSP form A).

  • The commercial invoice which is the principal taxing document as it shows what is going to be paid for the goods.

If these documents do not match, then the import customs do not know the amount of duties to be levied and may decline to let the shipment through. Some countries are stricter than others, and it is important for all the parties to be very clear on the level of accuracy required.

How does trade finance make this easier?

Trade finance makes landing the goods easier because the goods are paid for against the shipping documents - which reduces the risk for all the parties.

If original documents are held up, or lost in transit, then the trade finance company, with its knowledge of the supply chain end-to-end, is in a position to clear obstacles by making payments to obtain releases. Often this is difficult for a buyer to do if the buyer is requiring

credit and there is no trade finance involved.

How can I find out more about landing goods?

With 10 offices on three continents, talk to us: click here to connect to your local office. You can also read further articles on our site:

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