List of documents to import merchandise successfully

List of documents to import merchandise successfully

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Documentation to import from Alibaba or any other way

You are probably reading this article because you are thinking or have already decided to import a product. Currently, it is relatively easy to buy products anywhere in the world, platforms such as Alibaba greatly facilitate this process, but if you do not know the documents to import merchandise, your initiative can become a very bad experience.

In KANVEL we carry out daily imports of customers who have bought diverse products through Alibaba. We often encounter problems because the client does not have or cannot provide the documents to import that are required by the customs authorities – as appropriate for the product – either due to ignorance or not having previously advised.

We write this post to point out and explain the different documents to import merchandise that you should consider beforehand to finalize your purchase, and that this is a positive experience.

The first thing we should consider?

Nature and use of the product

The first step is to identify the nature of the product you want to import, because it determines the need to provide different documents. You must take special care if they are cosmetic, sanitary, personal care, food or dangerous products, because they require authorizations, licenses or certificates that, frequently, the inexperienced importer lacks them and in the extreme case you will not be able to obtain them.

Any purchase in a third country is an import


Any purchase in a third country, which is intended to be introduced in Spain, regardless of whether it is purchased through the Internet, in Alibaba, Aliexpress, that its supplier sends it by postal mail, which is transported by sea or air and also independently The size, quantity or value of the product must be considered as an import. Therefore, it is subject and must follow the established procedure, and documents must be provided to import necessary merchandise.

In many cases we find customers who have purchased small quantities of products in Alibaba or other platforms for personal use and who have been sent by their supplier by postal mail or Courier such as DHL or UPS. However, upon arriving in Spain they have been required at customs because the importer could not or had no idea of ​​the documents to import goods that were necessary to send the product to Spain.

Documents to import goods: which ones and why?

Ask yourself this question before buying. We do not intend to make you an expert with this article, simply to give you a general but clear idea of ​​the subject so that you know that the most convenient thing is to go to a specialist to get advice and identify the documents to import the goods you will need.

The first will be to identify the nature of the product and its use, remember that depending on this a certain documentation will be required to import from Alibaba or any other way.

We have basic import documents that are common to any shipment and product, such as the commercial invoice, the paking list, the B / L or the AWB, although we will develop them later.

But first we are going to try to identify those that usually and because of our experience in importing customers who have bought on Alibaba or another platform, require documents to import or authorizations or more complex licenses.



A cosmetic is defined as: “Any substance or preparation intended to be put in contact with the various surface parts of the human body (epidermis, hair and hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs), or with teeth and oral mucous membranes , with the exclusive or main purpose of cleaning them, perfuming them, modifying their appearance and / or correcting body odors and / or protecting them or keeping them in good condition ”.

Typical examples are toothpastes, soaps, makeup, bronzers, deodorants … To import these products it is necessary to present a statement of responsibility, and the procedure may vary if the product originates from the EU or third countries. If you plan to import these products, first consult a specialist to help you determine what documents to import goods of this type you will need.

Medical Products

The import license for medical products or devices, is necessary for this type of merchandise and is obtained from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products. To obtain it you must prove a series of requirements, and probably consult with a specialized professional. Examples of medical devices are: hearing aids, glasses, gloves, wheelchairs, diapers, prostheses, instruments, etc.

The two previous examples show the need to perfectly identify the nature and use of the product you want to import to know in advance the documents to import merchandise you will need.

Consider that there are also “personal care” products, food of animal, vegetable, processed or not, dangerous goods, etc., and for each one you will be required to obtain certain documents, infrastructure or accreditations.

Now let’s look at the documents to import merchandise that are common to all imports.

Documents to import common goods in all imports

Export bill

The export invoice is issued by your supplier, it must include all of your and supplier’s tax information, in addition to a descriptive detail of the merchandise, agreed INCOTERMS (FOB, CIF, etc.), product sale price and breakdown of freight.

In case the sale includes freight and insurance (CIF), it is usual that the supplier (we frequently observe it on purchases via Alibaba) does not specify the cost of freight and / or insurance. In these cases, the customs officer can request the freight invoice, which generates delays in customs clearance and additional costs.

Content List (Packing List)

A list of content is a detailed list of packages, weights, measures, individual description of the merchandise, references, etc. Depending on the shipment and quantities, it is usual that the invoice already records this information, which means that these documents to import merchandise are not absolutely necessary.

Certificate of Origin (FORM A)

Countries negotiate reciprocal agreements that grant certain tariff advantages for the entry of goods into the country (reduced tariffs or exemption).

To benefit, you must prove the origin / country of the product, with the original of this document to import merchandise. Your freight forwarder can inform you if your product enjoys these advantages.

Bill of Lading


Bill of lading is a document or documents to import merchandise issued by the shipping company or its agent. It is defined as a transport contract and accredits ownership of the merchandise.

Bill of lading is issued in three originals and three or more copies. This is especially relevant since the shipping company will require the delivery of the three originals to deliver the merchandise and in case of loss it may require bank guarantees for two or more times the value of the merchandise and for more than two years.

You can use other B / L modes, such as Telex relay or Sea waybill, in which the presentation of original documents is not necessary. Ask your freight forwarder in which cases it is convenient.

Aerial knowledge (AWB)

Air knowledge is equivalent to B / L, but for air shipments, it represents the transport contract and proves ownership of the merchandise. The airline delivers the merchandise to the consignee or its authorized freight forwarder.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is a priority that before importing any product, ensure that you have investigated what documents for the importation of goods: Licenses, sanitary certificates, phytosanitary, safety data sheets … will be required by the authorities before finalizing the import of any product.

Consult us before making any import, in KANVEL we have experience and our professionals will help you from the first moment to know the documents to import merchandise that you need.

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