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4 documents required to import into the United States

Identify some of the documents needed for import transactions into the United States.


A commercial invoice is one of the most relevant documents in international transactions. The commercial invoice should provide enough information for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers to determine if the commodities imported are admissible.

The document should include the following information:

  • Names and commercial addresses of the seller and the buyer.
  • Quantity of goods.
  • Unit and total price of the goods in the agreed currency.
  • Conditions of payment.
  • Incoterms.
  • Origin of the goods.
  • Tariff code of the godos
  • Means of transport.

*The commercial invoice needs to be filled out in English.


The packing list is intended to let transport agencies, government authorities, and customers know the contents of the package. This document collects information on what goods are sent, how much, and where.

It allows the customer and others involved in the transaction to check what has been shipped against the proforma invoice.

Any mistake on the shipping packing list can cause delays in clearance at the port of destination.


The Bill of Lading is a critical piece of documentation. The BOL is a document of title, a receipt for shipping, and a contract between a carrier and shipper. This document must be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper, and receiver.


The arrival notice is a communication that is prepared by a carrier or agent to let the consignee know that the shipment has arrived at the port.

The document includes:

  • A description of the FDA regulated commodities accepted in port
  • Information about the number of cargo units that have entered the US
  • The charges that need be paid at the time of pickup