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What International Shipping Documentation is Required for Businesses?




Do you know the total U.S. trades with foreign countries was $5.6 trillion in the year 2019?

International shipping offers exciting growth opportunities to business owners in the U.S. However, it is a multi-level process with a lot of regulations, especially on documentation.

International shipping documentation forms a basis for trading and shipping goods across international borders.

Documents for international shipping decide the fate of a shipment. A simple mistake could lead to delays during custom clearance.

Here are ten documents needed to ship internationally.

1. Commercial Invoice

When shipping goods internationally, a commercial invoice is one of the necessary documents presented at customs.

It’s an invoice issued by the exporter to the importer and acts as proof of sale. The commercial invoice is a detailed document that offers information on the exporter, importer, freight forwarder, shipping lines, and banking information.

A commercial invoice acts as a one-place document that holds crucial information about transactions required for customs clearance.

2. Purchase Order

This contains information about the transaction, the type of product involved, parties involved in the trade, and the transaction date. It is the official exporter’s declaration of receiving an order.

The document specifies what the seller will deliver and the total shipping cost.

3. Commercial and Proforma Invoice

Commercial and proforma invoices are used interchangeably within the U.S. and are preliminary bills of sale. Before delivering goods, invoices are sent to the shipper to serve a commitment to ship goods at a specific time and date.

A proforma invoice lists the weight, work included in the allegiance, and costs involved. The invoice is essential for custom clearance, especially when shipping goods to Europe and South America. For a shipment to go through automated export systems, your proforma invoice should indicate the seller, the buyer, and the value of the merchandise.

4. Bill of Lading (BOL)

A BOL is a formal agreement between the owner of the goods (shipper) and the freight carrier. It is a document used to confirm the receipt of goods for shipment. For the shipment to be released, this document must be signed by authorized representatives of the freight carrier.

A bill of lading contains information about the goods included, how to handle them, and their shipping destination. There are two types of bill of lading; non-negotiable bill of lading and negotiable bill of lading.

A negotiable bill of lading can be transferred to a third party, while a non-negotiable bill of lading must be signed by the two parties involved.

5. Packing List

This is an important shipping document that contains an itemized list of the shipment.

An export packing list is similar to a packing slip provided for domestic shipment, but it’s more detailed. The list includes the quantity, weight, and dimensions of the cargo. In addition to this, the form mentions the packaging type and any safety measures required.

In most cases, shipping companies use the packing list to create a bill of lading. Banks also demand a packing list as a document of payment in case of a letter of credit. A freight forwarder uses the document to clear goods for inspection.

It’s paramount to have the shipping list attached at a visible spot for easy readability.

6. Certificate of Origin

A certificate of origin is an important document in international trade used to declare the country of origin for manufactured goods. The document is certified by the chamber of commerce or by the consulate. It’s a vital form required to prove whether the goods are eligible for export and import.

It’s the responsibility of the seller or exporter to provide the certificate of origin based on the legal requirements of the destination country.

7. Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

This is a letter from the shipper to the freight forwarder containing instructions on how to handle the shipment.

The letter helps communicate specific details about the cargo to the freight forwarder to avoid mistakes that can lead to financial losses.

8. Custom Bond

A custom bond is a document similar to an insurance policy that guarantees payment of fees and duties related to freight.

The importer should purchase a bond from a surety company. The surety company is obliged by the importer’s responsibility and expected to make the payment if the importer defaults.

Note a custom bond only covers the U.S. taxes and duties and not the goods being imported.

The custom and border protection regulations demand all types of commercial imports in the U.S. require to be bonded. This document ensures quick clearance of the shipment.

9. Dangerous Goods Note

A dangerous goods note is a transport document that provides detailed information about the contents of a shipment to concerned parties like carriers and forwarders.

The note is a mandatory requirement for any shipment containing hazardous goods.

10. Insurance Certificates

This is a certificate issued by insurance companies certifying that the seller has purchased insurance for the goods. The policy covers against liability and damages that may occur to goods while shipping.

International shipping exposes sellers to many perils. The exporter community confidently conducts business by having an insurance policy that covers monetary losses.

Learning the Key International Shipping Documentation

Understanding the international trade documentation process thoroughly will help you avoid shipment delays. Each country has its own set of policies and requirements for international shipping documentation. Business owners should spend time researching and seeking answers to any lingering questions.

Once you are ready, obtain all the required shipping documents. Fill out each document accurately before engaging a freight forwarder. Preparing ahead of time will ensure your shipment goes smoothly.

For more advertising and business guides, please check out more of our blog posts.

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Debt Consolidation: A Smart Move To Manage Your Finances



Debt Consolidation

In this fast-moving world, managing your finances can be tricky. It might be tough to keep track of payments and balances on existing bills when you have credit cards, school loans and vehicle loans. To be on top of this issue and find a way to achieve your financial goals, all you need to have is a solid debt consolidation strategy. Consolidating these loans into a single loan may help you to simplify your budget.

This article covers the topic of Debt Consolidation in a nutshell.

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation is a rational financial approach that combines various bills into a single debt that can be paid off each month through a debt management plan.

By following the debt consolidation strategy, you can reduce the interest rate and lower monthly payments on the debt, thus making your debt more affordable and easier to manage.

Types of Debt Consolidation

It is important to have choices when it comes to Debt consolidation, as the right option can improve your financial situation significantly. Debt consolidation is the process of repaying various debts with a new Personal Loan or Balance Transfer Credit Card, which usually has a reduced interest rate. Let us look at the two options in more detail.

        I.            Personal Loan

A Personal Loan is a type of consolidation strategy with the source being from either the bank, a credit union or from a friend or family member. You can use this plan to clear credit card debt or any other type of debt that may have a higher interest rate. The advantage of a Personal Loan is that even though this type of loan comes with higher interest rates when compared to that of a Car loan or Home Loan, there is no need to show any collateral.

Furthermore, approval of a Personal Loan will depend on your credit score. Once approved, you will receive a lump sum of money fortnightly, which you will be agreeing to pay a certain amount of money back for a specified period with an agreed interest rate, thus making it an Installment loan. Plus, interest rates may be reduced depending on your credit score.

By making payments for the personal loan each month, you can have your monthly budget planned accordingly and at the end of the loan term you will have fully paid off your consolidated debt.

It is advised to consider not just the interest rates but also the total cost of the loan in the long run. This will give you an idea of whether opting for a Personal Loan is the best way to go.

   II.            Credit Card Balance Transfer

Some companies like Coles or Virgin Money, offer a balance transfer onto your credit card, but the stipulation in this case is that you have a good credit score. You can use this to apply for a new credit card and then channel the loan debt to the card. The advantage is that there will likely be a promotional 0% interest rate for a certain period (generally 12-18 months). After this period is completed normal interest (generally above 20% p.a.) will be applied.

The cons that come with credit card balance transfer are –

·         Credit score might take a serious blow

·         You may not save money after the balance transfer fee is added

·         There is a risk of ending up with more debt

·         After the promotion period concludes you could end up with a higher interest rate.

From the above two options, you can easily understand why there is a need to have a debt consolidation plan in place. In the next section, we highlight the importance of debt consolidation.  

Significance of Debt Consolidation

1.  Pay off your debt faster

What’s more stress-free than clearing off debt quicker than you initially thought? With debt consolidation this can be achieved. If your Debt Consolidation Loan has a lower interest than individual debts, try to make extra payments with the money that’s saved each month. With a long run of interest, you can save money as well as consolidate your debt.

2.  Can lower your interest rates

If you combine loans like credit cards and Personal Loans, which have high-interest rates, in the long run you pay lower interest rates, especially if your debt consolidation loan is at low interest.

3.  Improve credit score

Payment history is the deciding factor that can boost your overall credit score if you make on-time payments on the loan.

4.  Life, stress-free

Fewer debts, less stress. It is wise to have a single debt that has the advantages of easy managing, easy repayment, and more importantly, can consolidate all the loans into a single, consistent payment.

Act now. Do your own research. Live a debt-free life.

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6 Ways On How It Boosts Sales And Business Growth



Business Growth

The retail industry is ever-growing and ever-changing. To remain in the game, one must constantly assess their strengths, weaknesses, ups and downs, consumer behaviour, etc.

Some of you might be aware of what mystery shopping is all about. But for those who don’t know about this term, you’ll find this article very helpful. Before you get into the details of this topic, you should know that more customers do not affect business growth. It is more challenging to retain your current customer and not allow them to get diverted to a cheaper competitor. Now scroll down to learn how you can retain them.

Businesses appoint agencies that offer mystery shopping services. It is amongst the most cost-effective solutions to find out about customer experiences. The agency you appoint will appoint mysterious shoppers. The agency then asks the mystery shopper to visit different stores and locations and gather the information that the client needs. All the collected data reaches the agency, where it is analysed and provided to the client to understand customer loyalty, progress, customer satisfaction, and much more.

How does a mystery shopper help in growing your business?

As you appoint an agency to give you an insight through their mystery services, you can attain many benefits from the outputs it generates. Below is a list of benefits you can attain with mystery shopper service.

  • You get honest feedback from your customers.

The most valuable information is the customer review to boost sales for a company. Unless you know where your product or service lacks to satisfy the customer, you won’t have any scope for improvement. Knowing what the customer thinks about you is essential, and through mystery shopper ideas, you can get real answers from your current customers.

  • You can direct and manage your sales team.

Knowing what your customer thinks about you makes it much easier to direct your sales and marketing team to plan a strategy that’ll work best to please the customers. You can review your techniques and give feedback to your staff on what works and does not work for your business.

  • Spreads awareness and motivates employees to perform better

If the feedback from mystery shoppers is positive, it will encourage the staff to perform better and maintain the company’s graph. But if the response is negative, it will make the staff aware of their flaws so they can plan on improving them and move forward.

  • It gives you a reality check about your competitor.

In a fluctuating market environment, it is always better that you constantly know what your competitors are doing. A mystery shopper can visit your competitor’s store and get you information about how they are placing and marketing their products. Or how the customer is responding to their campaigns and more. Keeping an eye on the competition and levelling up your game should be your priority.

  • Helps in customer retention

Retaining customers is the biggest challenge, and you can overcome it with mystery shopper service. Once you know what your customers think about you, you can start working on aspects that require improvement. You can plan a marketing strategy that gives additional benefits to unique customers to keep them happy.

Look for a mystery shopping agency that has an edge in the market. Ensure you thoroughly research the agency and read reviews to learn more about their service quality. Discuss what type of information you expect to get from them. Also, you can seek a free trial before you sign a contract with the agency.

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Launching A Business? Here’s What You Need To Know About Different Insurance Plans



Launching A Business

Insurance is a way of securing your aspiring business against any form of risk that can occur, but most individuals get confused when it comes to choosing the right type of business insurance. If you are one of such people, don’t worry, as we will share with you information regarding different types of insurance plans so it can become easier for you to pick a suitable one. 

Understanding the Types

Insurance companies usually provide their services in the form of different coverage categories which can be availed individually or collectively. Examples include commercial property insurance, general liability insurance, and professional liability insurance to name a few. Most companies and businesses make a business owner’s policy that allows business owners to add different insurance coverages to get the best outcomes. Most common insurance policies include general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, business income insurance, and professional liability insurance which are mostly availed as a collective by an aspiring business. Without further ado, here are some types of insurance for businesses.

Business Income Insurance

If your business experiences a decrease in revenue due to unexpected property or equipment damage, business income insurance can provide you with sufficient capital so you can keep running your day-to-day expenses like utility bills, payroll, or the rent of the commercial property.

Commercial Property Insurance

This insurance helps in keeping your owned or rented property protected against damage. However, you would need to get additional coverage and take certain measures if you want protection against unexpected natural disasters like a flood or an earthquake. However, don’t forget to compare the coverage of the available insurance services in order to make the right choice.

Industry-Specific Insurance

 Let’s say you live in Canada, for instance, then you need to look into the country’s and the industry’s laws and regulations in terms of the insurance. Canada is a country with flexible laws for businesses and has policies that allow smooth business operations. Still, businesses must have insurance policies in place to protect their interests. When it comes to business insurance in Canada the regulations should be looked into in detail. Professionals in the field suggest looking for industry-specific insurance as it will be able to provide you full coverage. For example, if you have a business providing services, industry-specific insurance for your business will include professional liability protection so you can be prepared when facing lawsuits filed against your services. Nowadays, it is easier than ever to sign up for an insurance plan. You can even find insurance providers offering their services online also you can pick the right insurance policy with ease.

Data Breach Insurance

Big data, automation, and AI are revolutionizing the way we conduct business. User data, their activities, and behavior are all pieces of information used by companies to target specific marketing campaigns. It’s the responsibility of the business owner to secure information and take adequate security measures. However, if there is a cyber-attack resulting in a data breach, this form of insurance will assist you in contacting the affected individuals, managing public relations, and providing you with the right tools that keep valuable data protected in the first place.

Getting the right type of insurance is crucial for your business, especially for those who have just started their journey. Therefore, dedicate some time to research different insurance services, read about the offered coverage, and then make the decision that will guarantee the best business outcomes.

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