The Responsibilities of Export Documentation Officers

Export documentation officers use international rules of shipping to export cargo.
i Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Exporting products is vital to success for many businesses. Export rules can be complicated and cumbersome, but they are manageable with the assistance of a skilled export documentation officer. Different countries have different rules and regulations regarding receipt of material. An export documentation professional ensures international shipments conform to those rules and protocols to minimize chances for problematic shipments. Job duties for export documentation officers range from planning and coordinating to advising and analytics.

Document Whisperer

    Export documentation officers are responsible for proper execution of shipments originating from the United States and forwarded to global destinations. Officers must know the export requirements of the destination country and make sure all transportation and package documents meet criteria. The types of documents officers prepare or pull together include a manifest or bill of lading, letters of credit, certificates of origin, package descriptions and labels. Export documentation officers must be vigilant about details so shipping papers and related documents are complete and accurate for each export destination.


    Some job opportunities for export documentation offices are in federal and state government organizations, such as the Department of Commerce, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Transportation and the International Trade Commission. These agencies hire specialists who are knowledgeable about international trade and can advise others on how to ship goods across borders. These professionals may also work on projects where they study and analyze specific export laws, trade embargoes, tariff arrangements, or other issues regarding exports and recommend actions accordingly.


    Exporting shipments requires work from several different players. Export documentation officers must pull all players together. This includes planning and coordinating actions of manufacturers, suppliers, freight forwarders and carriers to arrange shipment details. Officers also work with internal personnel, such as shipping department managers, shipping team members and administrative professionals, to arrange shipments in the most cost effective manner, whether the cargo is transported by road, boat, air or a combination.


    Export regulations are subject to change. These changes create a domino effect that changes shipping documentation and other paperwork related to exports. Documentation officers must stay on top of changes to stay current in their jobs. They must keep up with shifting industry requirements and adjust their work procedures and practices accordingly. Proper adjustments mean incorporating periodic monitoring, auditing and procedural revisions as part of the overall job responsibilities.

the nest