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Shipping Documentation Guide: Types & Uses

February 6, 2024

When shipping packages, especially internationally, there are many factors to consider, and one of these factors is correct documentation. Without the proper documentation, your shipments can incur additional charges, get delayed, or get stuck at customs.

What kind of documents do you need, and where can you get them? Don’t worry; Terminal is here to share everything you need to understand about shipping documents. We’ve also included helpful links to some of them below. So, let’s get started!

What are Shipping Documents? 📝

Shipping documents or documentation are the required documents you must provide when sending items from one location to another. These could be records, invoices, forms, or certificates. They may also vary depending on the item being shipped or where it’s going, but most shipments require waybills and commercial invoices.

Types of Shipping Documents.

Commercial Invoice

This document lists all the items you are shipping, their quantities, and their values. A commercial invoice is similar to standard invoices but also has details that will assist with clearing customs, e.g. Item description, Quantity, Country of origin, H.S. code, Item value, Total weight, etc.

P.S. Ensure that your commercial invoice is ‍itemised correctly, or you could still incur additional documentation charges.

View a Sample Commercial Invoice.


This document tracks a shipment from its point of origin to its destination. It contains essential information about the shipment, such as the sender and receiver’s name and address, the type of goods being shipped, and the package’s weight and dimensions.

P.S. Terminal provides the waybill and invoice for you.
View a Sample Waybill.

Textile Addendum

This is required when shipping clothing items or fabrics to the USA. Different types may require different addendums. Textile Addendums usually include details such as manufacturer’s information, type of fabric, etc.
Download a Textile Addendum.

FDA Certificate

FDA (Food & Drugs Administration) certificates are needed when shipping food items, herbs, or medical devices to the USA and other countries. FDA Certificates usually include details such as manufacturer’s information, type of food item, quantity, how it’s packaged, etc.

Guide to Creating FDA Certificates. Generate FDA Certificate.

Quarantine/ Phytosanitary Certificate

This is needed when shipping edible items from Nigeria and is issued by the Ministry of Agriculture. It usually includes details such as the sender and shipper’s information, tracking number, and the food items you are sending.
Request a Quarantine Certificate for FedEx.
Purchase a Phytosanitary Certificate for other carriers.

Museum Certificate

These documents are issued by National Museums when shipping artworks, e.g. paintings, artefacts, sculptures, etc., from Nigeria. To get this, you should take your item to the museum
the charge will depend on the value.

Drop Ball Form

This is needed when shipping eyeglasses and sunglasses to the USA. Drop Ball form usually includes details such as name, address, etc.
View a Sample Drop Ball Form.

Shoe Form

It is required when shipping shoes to the USA. The shoe form usually includes details such as the manufacturer’s information, type of footwear, material composition, etc.
View a Shoe Form.

Lithium Battery Declaration Form

This is required by transportation regulations when shipping devices/equipment with lithium batteries. This form provides important information about the type and quantity of batteries being shipped and relevant safety information and precautions.
View a Battery Declaration Form.

Wristwatch Form

This is needed when shipping wristwatches to the USA. This includes details like the type of watch, value, etc.
View a Wristwatch Form.

Terminal Africa helps you get the proper Shipping Documentation.

When booking a shipment on Terminal Africa, you can quickly access your shipping documentation online, saving you time and money. For further help or information, contact your account manager or email us at