What is a Bill of Entry?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A bill of entry is a formal declaration describing goods that are being imported or exported. This document is examined by customs officials to confirm that the contents of a shipment conform with the law, and to determine which taxes, tariffs, and restrictions may apply to the shipment. It must be prepared by the importer or exporter, with many companies hiring a clerk specifically to handle the preparation process.

Shipping clerks make sure that all the items listed in a bill of entry are legal and properly received.
Shipping clerks make sure that all the items listed in a bill of entry are legal and properly received.

A typical bill of entry includes a description of the goods in the shipment, including details and the quantity of the goods, along with an estimate of their value. Customs officials reserve the right to inspect the shipment to determine whether or not it is consistent with the bill of entry, and discrepancies can be grounds for legal proceedings. Once the document has been reviewed and the shipment has been inspected, it can be cleared for sale or transfer. If there is a problem, customs may opt to confiscate the goods.

Many nations have specific laws about how this information should be formatted and presented. It is important for shippers to have accurate documentation, or goods can be held up in customs. This can cause an inconvenience in some cases, and spoilage or destruction of the goods in others; a shipment of fruit, for example, will not hold up through a lengthy retention by customs while details of the shipment are worked out.

In addition, goods may need additional supporting paperwork. Works of art, for example, may need to be accompanied by certificates of provenance. Archaeological artifacts also need to be accompanied by paperwork indicating that their release has been approved by the government, and describing the purpose for which the artifacts are being moved across international borders. This is designed to prevent the illegal sale and trade in priceless cultural artifacts.

Companies keep copies of their bills of entry on record as part of their financial paperwork; they need to be able to track the movement of shipments. These forms are also used by customs officials to track the type of goods being moved over their borders, and in the case of objects with import and export quotas, to make sure that these quotas are not exceeded. This paperwork is also used in the preparation of statistics that are designed to shed light on a nation's economic health and trade balance with other nations.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I want to know the shipping formalities for import and export documents.


I am facing a problem in calculating accessible value entered in the Bill of Entry. Can someone help me solve the following problem?

Invoice Value: $5234.00 USD

Miscellaneous Charges: $1525.00 USD

Exchange Rate: 54.65 INR

Unit Price: $47.70 USD

Quantity: 60 No's

Accessible Value: 203999.87 INR

They have calculated Customs and other duties on this Assessed Value.

Kindly explain to me how they arrived at this Assessed Value, since the actual value is = 156408.3INR.(47.7*60*54.65).

It's very urgent. We have to make the payment.

Note: Cargo Handling Charges

Delivery order fee: Rs.2500

BB Fee: Rs.500

APT Handling: Rs.250

Sub Total: 3250

Service Tax: 402

Invoice Total: 3652


Is a bill of entry needed for import and export, too?


Which one bank issue bill of entry or bill of entry is used for the Bank of Pakistan?


I want to know about a bill of entry and the formalities for a bank that is involved in the same.


i want to study about shipping step by step from supplier to customer.


I want to know the actual meaning of bill of entry.


What is the difference between a bill of entry for a warehouse and a bill of entries for home consumption? how can we know that the material comes under EPCG license or not? Which one is the relevant bill of entry for importer?


We have IEC code for our group (Organization). We had imported a material and kept in customs godown. From customs go down by mistake Bill of Entry raised to our sister concerned unit. But actually that material belongs to us, so our sister concerned unit authorized person given authorisation on back side of the BOE and forwarded the material to us. On the basis of their authorisation/authentication, shall i take the credit?


I want know the shipping formalities for imports and exports documents.


I want to study about whole shipping step by step.

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