Industry Terms

GLOSSARY OF LOGISTICS-RELATED TERMS – East African Online Customs Terminology

1. A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier (trucking company) which serves as a receipt for the goods to be delivered to a designated person or to his order. The bill of lading describes the conditions under which the carrier accepts the goods and details that nature and quantity of the goods, identifying marks and numbers, destination, etc. The person sending the goods is the “shipper” or “consignor,” the company transporting the goods is the “carrier”, and the person for whom the goods are destined is the “consignee”. Bills of lading may be negotiable or non-negotiable. If negotiable (i.e., payable to the shipper’s order and properly endorsed) title to the goods passes upon delivery of the bill of lading.
Free generic bill of lading templates are available on our website.

2. Customs Invoice is a form or document, required by Customs officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment, describing the shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment.

3. Clearing and Forwarding Agent

A person or firm licensed by an importer’s government and engaged in entering and clearing goods through customs. The responsibilities of a broker include preparing the entry form and filing it; advising the importer on duties to be paid; advancing duties and other costs; and arranging for delivery to the importer.

4. Customs Entry

A statement of the kinds, quantities and values of goods imported together with duties, if any, that is declared before a customs official.

5. Certificate of Origin Form

A Certificate of Origin form is a document, required by foreign governments, declaring that goods in a particular international shipment are of a certain origin. Even though the commercial invoice usually includes a statement of origin, some countries require that a separate certificate be completed. Customs offices will use the Certificate of Origin form to determine whether or not a preferential duty rate applies on the products being imported and whether a shipment may be legally imported during a specific quota period.
A Certificate of Origin is a signed statement as to the country of origin of the exported products for a particular shipment. The country of origin is NOT the country from where the product is shipped. The country of origin is the country where the product was manufactured or last underwent a substantial change or modification, for WTO members, goods can be considered originating if there is a shift of at least two chapters in the harmonized code.

For example, the country of origin for 100% cotton, knit shirts that are manufactured in China and then shipped to the Kenya and have a logo or slogan placed on them, and are then exported to Tanzania, would be China. However, if the cotton knit fabric was manufactured in China and then shipped to the Kenya and the fabric was transformed into shirts and are then exported to Tanzania, the country of origin would be considered the Kenya.

6. Commercial invoice Is a form identifying the seller and buyer of goods or services, identifying numbers [invoice number] date, shipping date, mode of transport, port of entry, delivery and payment terms, and a complete listing and description of the goods or services sold including, quantities, prices, discounts.

The commercial invoice form is considered the most important document in international trade, because merchandise is not allowed to clear customs at the destination without one. That is even true if the goods are samples and have no commercial value. This document is usually the one that all the service providers first look to for information about your shipment. It is important to prepare the commercial invoice as clearly and accurately as possible to avoid problems with your shipment. The Commercial Invoice is a Customs requirement, not a transportation requirement. When someone is engaged in international trade, Customs requires a Commercial Invoice form.

You will need two copies of the Commercial Invoice. One must accompany the freight from the point of pickup to the point of customs clearance, the other should be attached to the Bill of Lading.


The importer of record as the owner or purchaser of the goods; or, when designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee, a licensed Clearing and Forwarding Agent.


Import shipments moving into or through the United States or Canada which have not cleared Customs at the border and therefore travel under a Customs (Treasury) bond, and are identified as in-bond shipments.


A tax assessed by a government on goods entering or leaving a country. The term is also used in transportation in reference to the fees and rules applied by a carrier for its services.

10. TIB

See Temporary Import Bond.A temporary import bond or TIB (“Temporary Importation under Bond”) is required when goods are brought into Kenya without payment of duty, by posting a bond to guarantee that they will be exported. The amount of the bond is usually double the estimated duties. Goods imported under a temporary import bond can remain in either country without the payment of duty for up to a year. These goods must be brought back to the country of export before the expiration of the bond period to avoid the assessment of liquidated damages in the amount of the bond. If the goods are not exported, the bond is forfeited, usually in the amount of twice the value of the customs duties that would have been payable on the products. The one year period for exportation can be extended upon application to the port director.

The importer will want to enter merchandise using a temporary import bond under the following circumstances: importing samples for testing, inspection, for making a purchasing decision, or to display a sample at a trade fair or other sales show; or an importer may wish to import merchandise and to further manufacture it and then export the finished product.
Please contact your Clearing and Forwarding Agent to obtain a listing of goods that may be admitted into Kenya under a Temporary Import Bond / TIB.


The Kenyan Customs Service defines “value for Customs purposes only” as the value submitted on the entry documentation by the importer which may or may not reflect information from the manufacturer but in no way reflects Customs appraisement of the merchandise.