Shipping and Export Documentation


Familiarize yourself with the export documents and paperwork needed to avoid any delays, financial losses, or penalties by the Customs and to have your products arrive to your buyer in time.

1. Prepare your Order

Once you have received a purchase order from overseas, you need to start preparing the following documents to finalize and confirm the order:

(a) Issue an original commercial invoice: It is important to include in the invoice the correct Harmonized System (HS) code that classifies your exported product. This will help in calculating the right duties and taxes in the importing country and will also make sure that the goods are cleared faster at the customs of the destination country. In case you are exporting to the US, you need to include in your invoice the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which is a 20-digit import classification system special to the United States. The first six digits must match the corresponding HS code.

(b) Request a letter of credit from the bank of your buyer stating that the invoice value is or will be settled within a specified time frame.

(c) Issue a packing list, which is a shipping document that contains an itemized detailed list of the cargo including the weight, dimensions, safety measures, and packaging type. The freight forwarder company might use this list to create the bill of lading or the bank may also require it to be included in the documents for payment under a letter of credit. Additionally, the customs officials in the destination country may need to review certain items in your shipment.

(d) Prepare the Bill of Lading (BOL), which is an official contract between the shipper or owner of the goods and the freight carrier. The document is used to confirm receipt of goods for shipment, and can only be signed by an authorized representative of the carrier upon receipt in order for the shipment to be released. A BOL will include detailed information about the shipping destination, the goods included, and how they should be handled.

(e) Get freight insurance to protect against the risk of loss of goods or damaged goods.

2. Check for Export Licenses

It is important to note that the export of some selected products may be subject to a pre-approval from the Ministry in charge. The Ministry of Economy and Trade has the full list of products that are subject to such a requirement and also includes the ministry that is in charge of issuing the license.

3. Prepare for Customs Clearance

Custom clearance in Lebanon requires the following documents:

Quietus CNSS, valid for one year

براءة ذمة ضمان أصلية صالحة لمدة سنة

Commercial Register document

سجل تجاري

Commercial Circular

إذاعة تجارية

ID of person authorized to sign on behalf of the company

صورة هوية الشخص المفوض بالتوقيع

Finance License number registered at the Ministry of Finance

شهادة تسجيل شركة في وزارة المالية  (الرقم المالي)

4. Prepare the Needed Certificates

There are many certificates that might be requested in order to export a certain product to a certain market. We list below some of the most common certificates that exporters in Lebanon provide when exporting to certain markets:

Certificates of Origin (C/O)
In case you are exporting to a country in which Lebanon has signed a Free Trade Agreement with, you will need a Certificate of Origin (CoO) to be able to benefit from the customs duty exemptions. The Certificate of Origin is issued in Lebanon by one of the 4 chambers of commerce available in the country. In order for the Chamber of Commerce to issue this certificate, the following documents are needed:
  • An invoice signed by the authorized signatory of the company as per its certificate of incorporation, enclosing the commercial register and the financial registration number of the company (if the exporter is not the manufacturer, invoices from the local suppliers and their industrial certificate issued by Ministry of Industry shall be submitted instead).
  • Settlement of stamps duties.

Download our guide on Certificates of Origin (CoO) issuance and fees incurred.

After the issuance of the certificate, you need to verify and authenticate the Certificate of Origin at the Ministry of Industry through filling and submitting a specific form . The Certificate of Origin also needs to be verified and authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lebanon and sometimes by the Embassy of the destination country that is present in Lebanon.

In case you are exporting to the European Union, the CoO needs to be issued and certified by Lebanese Customs Authorities in accordance with Protocol number 4 with the European Union.

Certificate of Free Sale
Some countries ask for a Certificate of Free Sale. This document certifies that you are legally allowed to sell your product in your own market, without restriction, and that it has the approval of the relevant authorities in your country. This is usually issued by the Ministry of Agriculture (for food products), Ministry of Industry (for industrial products), or Ministry of Public Health (for health-related products).

Phytosanitary Certificate
A Phytosanitary Certificate, or 'plant health' Certificate, is often requested by countries for certain products, such as plants and plant-based products. A Phytosanitary Certificate confirms that these products are not subject to a quarantine period and that other potentially dangerous pests, were inspected and treated as required, and comply with the regulations of the country you are exporting to. This is usually issued by the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon upon submitting the test results from the national laboratory of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI).

Health Certificate
A Health Certificate is often requested from countries for products of animal-origin such as dairy, meat, fish, honey, but also for plant-based food products. The certificate confirms that the products are fit for human consumption, described and labelled correctly, and could be traced if necessary. The Ministry of Agriculture is the entity responsible of issuing the health certificate in Lebanon.

5. Export Documents

6. Import Documents


  • Carefully check all required documents, licenses and certificates. It will avoid delays and losses.
  • Note that different Ministries issue different certificates.
  • Get the right bill of lading. There are three common bills of lading that may be required for your shipment: an inland bill, an ocean bill, and an air waybill.
  • • You may need a clearance or quietus that indicates that a company has made all social security payments to the National Security Fund. It is valid for one year and is issued upon request submitted at Social Security Fund offices.