Documents required for commercial cargo export from India

Exporters in India are required to follow certain procedures, guidelines and laws in order to export commercial cargo out of India. In the process of exporting cargo, the exporters are required to obtain and prepare certain documents (also known as export documents). Each of documents serve a specific purpose and enable the smooth flow of cargo from India to the destination country. Since 1991, India has adopted the Aligned Documentation Systems (ADS), an internationally accepted documentation standard.

Export documents are both required for operational as well as statutory/regulatory reasons. While preparing these documents, care must be taken because any discrepancies may result in delay in shipping the cargo as well as penalty/charges for amendment of documents.

Prior to starting export process, an Exporter must register and obtain the following

  1. Business entity registration: Export must be done in the name of a business entity. This can be an LLP, Private company or even a proprietorship concern. One must consult a lawyer/CA to see which type of entity is best suited for his or her business.
  2. Next step is to obtain a PAN (Permanent Account Number) for the business and open a bank account.
  3. As an exporter, it is necessary to Obtain an IEC (Importer Exporter Code), GST Registration, as well as RCMC. An RCMC (Registration cum Membership certificate) may enable an exporter to obtain concessions or other benefits under Foreign Trade Policy (FTP 2015-20). These registrations can be obtained from FIEO, Export promotion council or such other authorities.

Once above registrations are in place and an export order has been received from the buyer, below mentioned documents are required for smooth movement of cargo from Origin to the Destination.

  1. Commercial Invoice. It is best to first send a Proforma invoice to the buyer and take a confirmation. Based on the Proforma invoice, a commercial invoice must be prepared.
  2. Packing list.
  3. Depending on the Inco terms used, Marine/Cargo insurance.
  4. Certificate of inspection.
  5. Shipping Bill (Export) / Bill of Entry (Import).
  6. Shipping instructions for preparation of Bill of Lading.
  7. Bill of Lading (Sea) / Airway Bill of Lading (Air).
  8. Certificate of Origin / GSP.
  9. Other regulatory documents including certificate of payment of freight, port charges, GR Forms, ARE I / ARE II, Dock Challan, Vehicle Ticket.
  10. Other documents required by Importing country: These could include ENS, ACD/AMS filing, ISF, EUR1 (movement certificate), Phytosanitary certificate etc.

A licensed custom house agent (CHA) can help an exporter with filing of documents with customs and obtain the shipping bill. Similarly a freight broker or freight forwarder can help an exporter obtain freight quote, book shipment, filing shipping instructions and obtain a bill of lading. allows an exporter to obtain instant freight quotation from multiple freight forwarders online. The freight marketplace also helps in the documentation process once the shipment is booked through the platform and becomes a one stop destination for all freight/custom processes for the export shipment.



  1. Could you please clarify what does shipping guarantee mean? And what does indemnity letter in shipping guarantee mean?
    Thank you.

    • Shipping Guarantee is an indemnity given to the carrier of goods (shipping line) by Consignee and their banks against all claims and liabilities relating to the delivery of goods. This is usually given when the original Bill of Lading cannot be produced at the destination and will be endorsed and surrendered at the origin at a future date.

  2. If somebody needs to dispatch some shipment to US then we heard about “Departure Certificate” so what is this certificate and how to get this certificate

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