The Origin of the Red Tape Facilitating non-standard export documentation



When conducting business internationally, every shipment requires official shipping documents to allow smooth export and import clearance. But in emerging markets like Africa and the Middle East, further non-standard documentation is usually required – adding layers of complexity.

In this case, our client was a high-tech, US-based multinational specialising in the sales of network security equipment, with a global spare parts warranty support program based in Europe.

Here’s our explanation of how we solved the client’s problems. Feel free to contact us for similar assistance, or simply to find out what’s needed for your export country.

Certificates of Origin are required throughout the developing world and these, along with other shipping documents, may need to be legalised by the importing country’s embassy prior to export.

Our client found it difficult to manage the creation of Certificates of Origin for every shipment, on top of the extensive communication required with chambers of commerce and embassies.



To begin with, Certificates of Origin are difficult to generate, because they must be fully compliant with the legislation of both the exporting country and the importing country.

The procedures to obtain them are time-consuming and costly, usually requiring an in-person visit to the relevant chamber of commerce.

In addition to the certificates themselves, some countries require supplementary legalisation of all shipping documents, in the form of official stamps by the embassy in the exporting country.

Unfortunately, internal embassy procedures often delay the entire process: original documents must be posted, there are advance wire transfer payments to be made, and regular follow-ups are required to confirm whether documents and payment have been received.

For this reason, an exporter must have specific processes in place for each country of export and import, and must build relationships with the relevant chambers of commerce and embassies.



Due to our client’s lack of specialist expertise in this area, they found that shipments could be delayed by up to three months while documentation was finalised. There was room for error and for the resubmissions of documentation, leading to our client experiencing a lack of control over their own export timetable. Moreover, if the documentation was found to be incomplete or inaccurate on arrival, shipments could get stuck in customs clearance for up to six months.

Our client asked BlueBlox to provide a shipping document management service that would ensure their customers received reliable and efficient delivery of all shipments, with no unexpected delays.



BlueBlox’s fully automated solution was able to simplify the process for this particular client, while significantly reducing lead times, costs, inconvenience, and risk.

BlueBlox processed the back-up documents and paid all fees, obtained the Certificate of Origin, arranged for attestation and legalisation of all shipping documents, and ensured that the originals (and any copies required) were delivered to the logistics providers in both the exporting and importing countries.



In many cases, BlueBlox can achieve a timeframe of 7-10 days from shipping document generation to legalisation – depending on the agreed KPIs for each destination country.

What’s more, our streamlined methodology for generating and legalising Certificates of Origin means that our clients’ involvement is required only at the beginning of the process.

Ours is also a robust, sustainable and easily repeatable process, so clients do not have to find new solutions for each new export situation – and they have a complete audit trail for compliance.

In addition, we enjoy strong relationships with the relevant chambers of commerce and embassies (via approved processes and electronic interfaces).

This means that we can issue Certificates of Origin with confidence, ease, accuracy, and control.

More importantly, however, it means that accessing emerging markets has never been easier.



Before seeking to obtain a Certificate of Origin, it is exceptionally important to ensure that you have a solid proof of origin for all products. This includes having a process in place that issues automated invoices that are identical in each instance. BlueBlox can help you with advice on this, or any issues relating to exporting into particular countries in Africa and the Middle East.