Ocean import process

Import trade refers to the purchase of goods from the foreign country. The procedure for import trade differs from country to country, depending upon the import policy, the statutory requirements and customs of different countries. In almost all the countries of the world import trade is controlled by the government.

Depending on type of goods, regulations of the exporting country, terms of your contract. There will be minor differences from this process.

Before this step we should has agreement with exporter about the term, conditions … to import the cargo along with chose the transport service (FWD) to satisfy all of your company conditions.

Same as the export process, normally the carrier is alway lack of space before once week, especially if in the high season, the export cargo is very much, the lack of empty container status be alway happen. 

There is a different points from the export shipment, once we send booking (chose to hire the vessel) so we just supply the information for transporter service (FWD) at Vietnamese to take booking and they will contact with our customer through the branch network and them agency to cooperate to loading the cargo as the plan has been done.

Every update information will be your partner and transporter service supply through all the process of the shipment come to the customer’s factory.

Any important points need to notice once we take booking.

  • Port of loading: A place that your container will be load to the vessel
  • Transit port: Depending on the regulation, agreement between us and our customers can be ship via transit vessel or direct to chose the best route.
  • Port of discharge: A place to lift of the container.
  • Cargo description and weight: Base on the information from the document been sent from the customer to supply.
  • Estimated time of departure: Is the estimated date that the vessel will be depart.
  • Loading time: According to the agreement plan between us and our partner.
  • Other specially request: Type of containers, size, temperature, … if any. Normally base on the type of cargo to chose the suitable containers.

Ocean import process | Solutions

Check information on the booking

It different from the export shipment, we should check one by one details on booking so with the import shipment we just need to take note on any of bellow information:

  • Port of loading and port of discharge: Carefully checking if it match the request or not because if it impact to all the shipping process.
  • Container temperature and wind if any: Check the temperature, wind was right with request. For refrigerator cargo that have no wind.
  • Type and size of containers: Dry or cold, high or normal, 20 or 40 feet.
  • We can ignore these: Cut off SI deadline, cut of time, place to pick up empty containers or place to laden full containers.

Request the carrier amend booking if there is any miss match

If there is any miss match we should suggest the carrier or booking supplier amend continually checking until archive our company’s request.

Ocean import process | Solutions

For export shipment, we or our forwarder will supervise, following for all of loading process to update to your customers. And for import shipment then backwards: Exporter or agency, branch forwarder service at Vietnam will do this.

In case of exporter or forwarder neglect not update to us so we should request them update time by time for us to clearly the our shipment status.

Any of information need to be update same as:

  • Seal
  • Empty container picture: To make sure there is no any damages occur, due to all of arising fee related to fix container will be claim by carrier once we returning the empty container at Vietnam if there is no any damages at the export country.
  • For refrigeration shipment we need to take a picture of temperature panel. More careful is we can request them attached electronics chip inside the container to follow the temperature through all of shipping process.
  • Even if the vessel delay before loading we should request them to update to proactive handing the related documents.

Ocean import process | Solutions

Before import, we should find out if there is any documents in the procedure to import. Then request the partner process to do to have that documents or certificate.

After knew which is certificate, in the process, we suggest they send draft including draft bill to carefully checking all of information are matching with each other? If have a minor error maybe our shipment will have a big problems with customs authority, or Vietnam chambers.

If everything is OK, conform with the partner to process for all anything else until we received original scans.

There is a specially notice points that we should base the vessel schedule. To proactive request deadline for all of that documents, make sure everything is well as plain.

Such many case the vessel came to Vietnam but the documents, certificate of the shipment is not finish. Make delaying in pick up the cargo, take too much time and money for your company.

Ocean import process | Solutions

Before the vessel depart at least one day we will received arrival notice from the carrier or agency.

Arrival notice is a detail notice from carrier or forwarder let us know estimated departure time of our shipment. Any of information on the arrival notice same as information on bill. (Including exporter’s name, importer’s name, container number, seal, vessel name, vessel voyage, and cargo descriptions …).

Beside we have surcharge or local charge will be shown clearly on it. 

After check information on the arrival notice, we process to take delivery order. To take DO from vessel or forwarder, we should need following documents:

  • Letter of introduction
  • Original bill (if is a surrender bill so we no need bill of loading).
  • Authority letter if any

For any of L/C contract, until the carrier received the delivery order we should bringing original bill of loading have after signature from bank.

Normally, delivery order have 4 copies been issued for receiver do a container betting paper, renewed, manifest comparison and print container delivery slip.

EIR form and container borrowing paper

For FCL shipment is a direct delivery, delivery quiet container so we should do a borrowing container paper.

By filling into the borrowing container commitment paper work of the carrier. After that pay borrowing container charge accordingly to the carrier. 

This money been the carrier pay back if we return the empty container to depot in good as good same the the time we borrowing. Or will be deduct by the carrier to repair the container been damaged. On the delivery order will be stamp is “direct delivery”.

The carrier will send to pick up staff signing into one DO. And the carrier will keep it same as an evidence: “The DO has been delivery to the pick up person”.

Pick up person should comparison DO with bill of lading to make sure all information was correct. If there is any error, the pick up person will request to the carrier amend and chop “CORRECT” into the place that been amended. If not will lead into the problem once we do customs procedures and pick up the cargo at port.

For FCL shipment that unloading the cargo at port so DO will be chop “GUTTED GOODS”. And been shown clearly the deadline date.


  •  We should notice to check the deadline date on the delivery order. In case of the plan to do the cargo at port extend beyond the time limit stated on DO. We should go the carrier or forwarder pay money to extend delivery order. After finished extend DO that we can do all the next step to pull the cargo into our warehouse.
  • To take DO we can pay by money or bank transfer is alway OK. For a hug of money we should bank transfer to avoid the risk.
  • For any urgent case we should priority payment by cash to take delivery order as soon as possible.
Ocean import process | Solutions

Base on the cargo, HS code, … and any regulations of the government to us know which is necessary certificate needed to be supply related documents.

For example, if we import the goods or materials that need the chemistry certificate of specific chamber and pay charge according to the regulations.

Declare imported chemicals

For any of fertilizer cargo should have the conformity announcement; the cargo, related to food should have registered for food hygiene and food safety inspection, quality inspection of the ministry according to the law.

Food safety inspection paper check

If no need these certificate so our shipment will not been clearance and it hard to do the cargo with any of authorities.

Ocean import process | Solutions

Preparing the document is the most importance in the process of customs procedures. Preparing document soon and correct will close 95% of customs declaration process. Same as saving customs fee for your company.

Determined any of thing need to do for import shipment.

This step meaning once our shipment imported, we should determined first which is our import cargo? Refer the HS code for cargo, how much for import tax? Whether to enjoy the offer or not, any of procedures and things need to do once the shipment came to Vietnam?

Preparing the documents once the cargo come into Vietnam.

  • Contract
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading
  • Certificate of origin if any.
  • Import certificate if any.
  • For all of other necessary documents, depending on the shipment or specific cargo.

Notice: Any of import cargo request need to have certificate, or specific certificate for any of related ministry. We should find out any of documents as soon as possible for the cargo can be released.

Do customs declarations:

Thanks for the technology development, today we no need to do customs declarations by paper work with slowly and hard as before.

Instead of that, we can declaration through the electronic customs declaration system. In that case, electronic customs system been use the most popular is ECUS5 – VNACCS.

To do the declaration we need any of following documents:

  • Sales contract
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading
  • Certificate of origin if any and any of other related documents need for do customs declarations (these document depending on any of specific cargo, and specific management policy for import cargo).

Beside the document, specially is a digital signatures

Digital signatures be use for sign in and transmitting declarations on electronic customs declaration software.

Of our company is lack of or have any issue with digital signatures so the best way is to pay customs broken agency fee to keep in timely manner. But for a long term we need to have digital signatures to avoid any of nonsense charge.

Once have full of necessary digital signatures and documents we should check the document carefully. The checking have to be done to review about the unification, correct of any documents or number. The most is a validity of CO that can be reduce the taxable. 

Moreover, should reviewing to set HS code correctly for the shipment. Avoiding the case of being rejected HS code will not be entitled to import tax incentives. This seen be simple but impact to much to our cargo value.

Process to do customs declaration by signing into the customs system. Filling all information according to the request and plug in the digital signatures to transmitting the customs declaration mainly into the system. Once the customs declaration been transmitting onto the system is meaning that on the customs system have has the information for this customs declaration.

After done transmitting, declaration been export being lined into three type of line:

  1. Green line: CDF being lined to line 1 – green line: Customs declaration will be clearance on the system and release back is: “Cleared import customs declarations”.
  2. Yellow line: CDF being lined to line 2 – yellow line: We should do a procedures to open CDF at port customs authority.
  3. Red line: Once the CDF been lined to line 3 – red line: We should do a procedure to open CDF at the customs branch same as yellow line. For red line CDF so should process to reality inspection of goods so need to strongly notice:


  • By do mainly CDF is very important, need correct information, reality number. Any of missing declaration can be amended but any of should to canceled CDF. This lead to arising the cost same as trouble for both before and after finished the procedures for the shipment.
  • Such as much CDF canceled can be bad effect for all of after that shipment CDF.

Pay taxable and do reality customs procedures at port.

After CDF has been lined, the taxable money will be display on the CDF even for green light or red light or yellow. (Excep for any case can be enjoy tax exception policy from the government).

This taxable can be displayed on the first page of CDF and been separated into specific category bellow:

  • Import tax
  • VAT tax
  • Amount of taxable should pay.
  • This is an importance point to pay correct taxable.

Taxable amount should be count close correctly before we do CDF. Depending on HS code, import tax, VAT and can be enjoy tax exception policy if have CO. Calculating first the tax amount should pay can help the company more proactive once count the cost.


Normally, taxable be process after CDF has been lined and reality shipment cane to port. 

Taxable amount can be bank transfer or pay by cash, but to keep it fast we should pay by cash. Avoid case of that we done the process but taxable bank transfer still not come to so we can’t pick up the cargo. Today, taxable money can be pay at bank or at the port (a place to do a clearance).

Ocean import process | Solutions

Do a clearance CDF at port.

  • Green line CDF: Pay tax, taxable money came to bank account so we can print barcode so we can clearance and pick up the cargo.
  • Yellow line CDF: Pay tax before or after we do a procedure to open CDF, open CDF, clearance and pick up the cargo.
  • Red line CDF: Same as yellow line but at the step open a reallity CDF, we have one more step is inspection of goods procedures.

Open CDF:

For yellow and red CDF we should prepared the documents to open reality CDF, that including:

  • Introductions letter
  • CDF has been lined
  • Invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading
  • Other all of necessary documents (CO, freight invoice, import certificate …)

Send the document to customs branch for them to inspection, if the document is OK. The customs will process to clearance on the system.

Normally this documents often get trouble about CDF issue. Such as HS code, name of goods, CO not satisfy the government policy, … So the checking step is the most important.

For any of CDF with small error so process to transmitting amend CDF. But if trouble at HS code, or CO, … so we should check and review carefully.

For any of yellow line or red line CDF being cut seal to check the cargo so we should open the cargo to customs check correctly between reality cargo and information on CDF.

Any information can be check once inspect the cargo.

  • Quantity
  • Type of goods
  • Label and serial number.

After done checking, if the cargo have no issue and suitable with declared information. Customs authority will process to clearance on the system.

In case of difference between reality cargo and CDF. Customs authority will review, about the company will find the way to resolving in the best way.

Ocean import process | Solutions

After pay taxable and CDF has been clearance so we can print bar-code in here:


After fill all request information we will received the bar-code.

We send bar-code and cleared CDF to supervisor customs at least are two copies. Customs will chop on bar-code and return to the company another one, the last one customs will hold.

Today, any of customs authority will request the company supply more one CDF to control. How many bar-code should be supply plus with CDF to stamp that depending that customs authority. But the company should take back one copy to save and resolving arising problem if any. 

Ocean import process | Solutions

After done clearance, we come to port business room, take DO in validated time to pay money for print lift on container form (EIR form). Send to driver any of document same as EIR, DO, the paper to borrowing the container to our company. To driver show at gate customs supervisor and process to pick up container out of port and pull to our company.

Before the container been lift on the chassis, driver should coordinate with port cooperation to careful inspection the container status. If find out any of damage so suggest container coordinator should conform onto the EIR. To avoid any of fix container after will be count on our company account that not our fault.

Need to take note all of documents, specially the container borrowing paper should be carefully protect. Because of we should to procedures to return empty container to depot after finish unloading the cargo.

Ocean import process | Solutions

After the vehicle came to our company, we should to take note to check here-under informatios:

  • Seal: Check to know if it match with seal shown on bill of lading or not? If there is any showing strange can be cut or shaping? After that take a picture again before we cut seal.
  • Take a picture of outside and inside, flooring, two of container door, ventilation holes, electric plug in line to determined the status of containers first. In case of damaged container after unloading the cargo, will know clearly that charge will be pay by who.
  • Break damage temp (If damage cargo) before return empty container according to the carrier policy. If not we will be charge. After done unloading the cargo, drive will pull empty container to return to depot or port, according to the instruction be shown on borrowing container paper.

At the place that we return the empty container, port coordinator will will check the status of container. If have any damage compare with before pull container out of port will shown on EIR and request to driver sign on it.


The carrier will have regulation about DET (normally is three days from the day that container is pulled out of the port). If your warehouse is far from port, plain to unload the cargo should be clearly planned. To make sure container will be returning back the port according to the regulations to avoid DET charge.

In case of DO is over due so port will not let us return the container. So we should come to the carrier office to extend returning order, pay surcharge. After that send to the driver to send to port coordinator to check, so we can return the empty container match with regulation.

Ocean import process | Solutions

All of document should be saving, carefully protect. (To review if have any arising after, or complain. To service inspection of chamber such as tax chamber or customs chamber…)

The shipment complete customs procedures that past due to check after clearance. That not done clearance after pull the cargo to warehouse and export finished.

Today, government policy is simple at clearance period. To reduce the cost, DEM/DET for company at port. Otherwise is reduce the pressure for infrastructure. The inspection after done clearance to review again that if the company have following the compliance or not.

The question is after clearance the cargo, which is the thing that company should saving? And how long?

Any document need to save

  • Any documents belong to customs records; additional declarations records, dossier of registration of list of duty-free goods, records of use of duty-free goods.
  • Dossier for consideration of tax exemption, tax reduction, tax refund, or non-tax collection.
  • Dossier of application for tax money handling; late payment; overpaid fines; application file for tax payment extension; files of gradually paying tax debts; dossier certifying the fulfillment of tax payment obligations; fines paid to customs authorities.
  • Transportation document for export shipment, packing list, technical document, document. And document related to actual norms for processing, manufacturing export products.
  • Accounting books and couchers

What should we notice once we saving document?

  • Company should saving all of other documents in five years.
  • Company should saving original copy for all of above documents (Exception for supply it to customs authority).
  • In case of electronic document so we should saving it under electronic. Or transfer to paper document according to the law regulations.

Ocean import process | Solutions

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