International Trade Documentation and Publications

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Tate's Export Guide - www.tatesexportguide.co.uk - answers this question in the country page on Jamaica and within the Financial Aspects section, under Obtaining Payments for Exports.

Are you committed to using sterling? If not, you could avoid the problem by invoicing in US dollars. If you are, you can always consult your bank or others about arranging payment in other ways: (i) Finding a bank which will confirm a credit at any time of year (there are some, but seeking them may be time-consuming). (ii) Using documentary collections instead. They are less expensive than credits, just as secure in practice, and give you two further choices: waiting for the money, or agreeing with your customer to deal in accepted drafts so that you can get a bank to discount them and give you cash at any time of year. (iii) You might be able to sell your accepted documents to a forfeiter. (iv) Before you decide on any of these, talk to your bank - and if necessary, others - about an export finance scheme which could ensure your payment of say 80% of invoice value on shipment and the rest when the customer pays; such a scheme will very likely use bills of exchange.

You do not have to accept a credit (or an amendment for that matter): if you decide not to, return it promptly to your bank in order to avoid being charged a fee for non-use. You might decide to accept it on the basis that the customer pays for its amendment and all the changes should be made in one amendment to minimise the cost. There may be substantial delay before the amended credit is received, so spell out to your customer all the changes you need and be sure to ask that the validity of the credit is extended if necessary so that you can meet the requirements of the credit before it expires.

It helps, for example, for the credit to specify that documents must be presented within its validity but not within a stated number of days after the date on a shipping document. If you lack the expertise to manage this complicated type of documentation safely, you should consider getting an expert to help you. You should be able to avoid repetition of this problem by agreeing the exact details in the customer's application for a credit. If the application is correct, any errors will have been introduced by banks and you should ask the advising bank to arrange correction without charge to your customer and to accept documents which comply with the correct version.

It is important to sell in a currency which suits your customer, if only because your competitors will: the general principle is that you should make it at least as easy for a customer to buy from you as from anyone else, regardless of the quality of the competing products. The subject is dealt with in Tate's Export Guide under Obtaining Payments for Exports - www.tatefreightforms.co.uk. You may find it advantageous to discuss with your bank or another what services they offer you. These include various ways of managing the exchange risk so that neither you nor the customer is at a potential disadvantage and these can be combined with finance schemes which allow you a high proportion of invoice value on proof of shipment with the rest when the customer pays. Be prepared to evaluate a number of such arrangements and possibly ask a bank to tailor a scheme specifically for your needs, before deciding what best suits you.

Notification of shipment can be a serious difficulty, especially when a letter of credit is involved, but can sometimes be made easier if you can get the customer to open a credit leaving you maximum discretion in the method by which you send the information and the time period within which the information must arrive.

The word "immediately" should be avoided. If a credit requires you to notify despatch to an insurance company in the customer's country it is essential to retain documents - such as a certified copy - to prove that you have done so and establish the date. You can protect against inadequate cover by getting a copy of the insurance document if you can and by consulting your own insurer or broker about seller's risk insurance: this is not doubly-insuring the cargo but gives you protection against failure of the obligatory cover. The subject is explained in Tate's Export Guide - www.tatesexportguide.co.uk.

Yes. A forwarder will often arrange cargo insurance which covers you against loss, damage and sometimes delay to your goods in transit. Credit insurance protects you against the risk of not getting paid and you must arrange this yourself. Credit insurance is described under Financial Aspects withing Tate's Export Guide - www.tatesexportguide.co.uk. Cover can be arranged direct with the insurer or often through a bank's export finance scheme whether or not you use that scheme, a facility especially useful for "smaller" exporters.

The subject is covered under Documentation within Tate's Export Guide - www.tatesexportguide.co.uk. The complete range of Aligned documents, designed by SITPRO in accordance with international standards, may be obtained from  this website.

The principle is that all the information required for an export consignment is either entered on a single-sheet master document from which all the others are produced by using a photocopying process or using a desktop computer with suitable software so that the data for the master document is entered on screen and the documents required are printed out from it. Further information about our software for export order processing can also be found on this site under the services tab.

You can print nearly all documents on plain paper; otherwise, you will need printed forms. For a one-off order of course you could just type the information directly on the individual documents, but you would do far better to adopt the system for all your export business: the advantages are major savings in time and cost with complete accuracy of all documents made from a correct master. 

The Aligned system is simple to use and once you have it you will be well-placed to exploit further advances in cheaper and faster production and transmission of trade documents.

The subject is covered in the country page on Cyprus and within the HMRC section of Tate's Export Guide - www.tatefreightforms.co.uk.

Goods qualify if they are of EC origin. If any raw materials or intermediates are not of EC origin or any manufacturing or packaging process takes place outside the EC, you should consult your customs local officer and study customs public notice 828 obtainable from him. This is important both to establish whether your goods qualify for preference but to see whether there are any other customs regimes - such as inward or outward processing relief - from which you might benefit.

Beware that the origin rules applied by customs differ from those used by chambers of commerce when issuing EC certificates of origin. It may help you to ask HM Customs for binding tariff information on your products (this is covered under Customs Planning within Tate's Export Guide). The situation is subject to change: member countries of the World Trade Organisation are committed to phasing out preferences during the next few years in favour of lower tariffs all round, although little progress has been made so far. Value limits which determine what documents to use when claiming preference also change from time to time.

Here are some general tips: the first step is the importer's completing an import order (a document given different names in different countries) based on the proforma invoice, which is itself a document the agency will want to see, so the proforma must be the version agreed as it stands and must not have been modified in any way before the order was confirmed. For a first order, it would be helpful for you to discuss with the agency some parts of the procedure, especially value for customs purposes and price verification and to get a preliminary opinion on price, so that you will not be surprised if the agency accepts your price but recommends that duty be levied on a higher price. Pre-shipment inspection nowadays works smoothly and seldom causes difficulties to honest and efficient exporters; indeed, for many countries, it provides an independent guarantee of your performance as a supplier and this can materially help the sale of your goods in the market place. The agencies also claim that they often help shippers get their documents right and so avoid difficulties over both delivery of goods and payment for them; they say that their chief difficulty with shippers is that they are expected to work with shipments documented by inadequate paperwork.

The hard way is to go through all the regulations, which you doubtless already have and try to decide. But it is better to submit a detailed description of the equipment either to the local customs officer with whom you normally deal or direct to the Export Licensing Branch of BIS: details are given in Tate's Export Guide - www.tatesexportguide.co.uk. Their decision is final anyway.

It may be quite difficult to decide what controls apply to sophisticated electronic equipment, so you may be asked for further information before an answer can be given. The decision will include both the kind of licence, if any, required and a list of countries to which the goods may not be sent.

The subject is vast and complicated, far beyond the scope of the Guide. You need to consult experts in the different areas. The laws governing such matters in different countries are diverse, as is the usefulness of the protection they provide and the cost of getting protection in many countries is high. You will need to decide on the protection you need both in your markets and in other countries where there is a serious risk of counterfeiting or the production of similar products which might undersell yours in your market countries. Eventually you will have to decide whether, say, trade marks are more or less important than patents and compromise between the protection you would like to have and what you can afford.

The Tate Group

Our a range of products and services is design help exporters and importers operate effectively within the complex world of International Trade. We assist companies by providing essential skills and knowledge in trade procedures, enabling employees to handle export orders and international product procurement successfully. Our workshops, trade reference, documentation and software applications form a unique suite of 'tried and tested' services. We are associate members of the Institute of Export and British International Freight Association.