What major export documents should an exporter be familiar with and who needs all these documents?

  • Packing List: Itemizes the contents of each package in an export consignment and indicated the type of packaging used. Should indicate weights, measurements, and other details of each package. It can be attached to the outside of a package in waterproof material. A Packing List is also necessary for obtaining insurance for your shipment.
  • Ghana Export Form: All non-traditional exporters are required to complete a Ghana Export Form, obtainable from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
  • Commercial Invoice: A bill from the exporter to the importer for the goods consigned. A good commercial invoice should have information on the quantity, description and price per unit of the goods, total price, payment terms, name and address of the buyer, and the exporter’s address.
  • Customs Entry Form: Obtainable from the GRA- Customs Division, and carries information on the consignee’s (buyer) name and address, the exporter’s particulars, carrier of the goods, and description of the goods including the harmonised code.
  • Certificate of Origin: A Certificate of Origin is a document that accompanies an export to provide proof of the source of a product or extent of processing for determination of tariffs. As a member of the WTO, Ghana enjoys preferential rated for its exports and the only way for the preference to be given is the possession by the exporter of a Certificate of Origin. The preference varies from one trading bloc to the other:
    • EUR1 – European Union. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) now governs our trade with the European Union.
    • GSP – U.S.A., Japan, Canada, Switzerland, etc.
    • AGOA Visa – U.S.A.

Because Ghana enjoys preferential treatment under a number of international trade agreements, it is important to include a Certificate of Origin. This document can be obtained from the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  • Certificate of Health / Phytosanitary Certificate: Issued by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture at exit points and usually required for the export of food or drinks. Fish exports to the European Union are however an exception. In their case, Certificates of Health can only be obtained from the Ghana Standards Authority.


  • Certificate of Inspection: Some buyers or importing countries require certificates attesting to the quality and price of goods shipped, and this is usually done by specialised independent inspection agencies. Where such inspection is required, insist that your buyer bear the cost of inspection. SGS, Inchcape, Cotecna, and BIVAC International are examples of inspection agencies in Ghana.


  • Bill of Lading: A contract between the exporter and the shipper for the transportation of goods. They may be negotiable or non-negotiable. Negotiable Bills of Lading have monetary value and can even be sold before the goods reach their destination (with original copies only). Bills of Lading also provide proof of ownership of goods and describe the goods being shipped.
  • Air Waybill: Similar to a Bill of Lading except that it is difficult to use as a title document, and therefore has no monetary value. Importers can clear the goods from the airport even without the original Air Waybill.
  • Game and Wildlife Certificate: Issued by the Department of Game and Wildlife and required for the export of all wild animals.


  • Forest Products Inspection Bureau (FPIB) Permit: Required for the export of all wood products.


  • Certificate of Insurance: Issued once you have insured your goods, and indicates the type and amount of coverage. Like the Bill of Lading, the insurance certificate is a negotiable document and therefore has monetary value.