What documents are needed to clear customs?

The documents required for goods to clear customs are not the same. The documents that need to be submitted will depend on what the goods are, the mode of transportation used and whether the shipment is being imported or exported. Though, there are a few documents that will always be needed. Read more below about the documents required to clear customs:

Commercial invoice

A commercial invoice is necessary for the calculation of tariffs. This document gives detailed information on each package. The document must include information regarding the importer and exporter, a description of the goods, the invoice number and much more. This document needs to be filled out correctly for the goods to clear customs.

Packing list

The packing list is used by customs to check the cargo and confirm it. The information on your invoice also needs to be present on this document. The packing list should also include other information regarding the packaging details. This information includes the weight, dimensions and handling suggestions for the package. This is necessary for customs to clear the packages.

Bill of lading

This document is issued to the shipper by the shipping company. There are several variations of this document that relate to the mode of transportation used for the shipment. It is the acknowledgement of receiving the goods and is the obligation of the carrier to deliver the goods. This bill contains information regarding the parcel description, the vessel used for transport and the shipment destination.


Freight insurance is an agreement that covers any damage that may occur during the transportation process. This document is only necessary for your goods to clear customs if the payment for insurance is not indicated on the commercial invoice.