What is a Certificate of Inspection: Guide on its types & benefits

A Certificate of Inspection is a trade document issued by an agency after inspecting the products that are to be exported. Know more about types, benefits and how to obtain them.
certificate of inspection
One of the most crucial steps in exporting products globally is the pre-shipment inspection. A large number of products are traded across international borders, making it necessary to maintain and match certain safety and quality parameters (with reference to importer’s requirements) of the importing country. To certify that a particular set of goods has been inspected and that it satisfies the conditions for shipment concerned either with quality, weight or packaging, a Certificate of Inspection (COI) is required.

What is a Certificate of Inspection?

Required at the time of importing consumer goods, a Certificate of Inspection or an inspection certificate is a trade document issued by a third-party inspection company after conducting a stringent inspection of goods. It certifies whether or not the goods are in good condition as per the specifications stated on the contract at the time of import.

What are the benefits of a Certificate of Inspection?

As an important document used in international trade transactions, below are a few benefits of COI:
• It checks compliance of goods with the terms of the contract, thus saving importers from receiving sub-standard quality or wrong products.
• Exporters can keep a check on production process and take timely corrective measures before packaging and dispatching goods to avoid rejection at the time of inspection.
• Exporters get an idea of production timelines, thus ensuring timely dispatch and receipt of goods to the destination country.
• An inspection certificate acts as an intermediary between the exporter and the importer. In case the importer receives poor quality products despite a positive inspection certificate, compensation can be claimed from the inspection company.

Types of inspection certificates

Official Inspection Certificate:

Authorities from the customs department of some countries require an Official Inspection Certificate to process the clearance of goods. It helps in keeping a check on the condition of products in the shipment on the basis of quality, quantity, import eligibility criteria of the importing country, product pricing, etc1.

Commercial Inspection Certificate:

A Commercial Inspection Certificate or report is a pre-shipment inspection before a shipment leaves the factory or warehouse for dispatch. The certificate or report is sent to the importer. If the importer finds that the specifications comply with the sales agreement and other import regulations, then a Commercial Inspection Certificate is given.

What are the details mentioned in a Certificate of Inspection?

Following are some of the common details mentioned in a standard Certificate of Inspection2:
• Inspection date
• Place of inspection
• Purchase order number
• Contact details of importer
• Country of origin
• Product description
• Number of units
• Number and date of pro forma invoice
• Insurance policy number (if any)
• Number and date of Bill of Lading
• Gross weight
• Port of discharge
• Contact details of supplier
• Code number of custom tariff
• Type of packing
• Place of issue
• Name and signature of the authorized person

Who issues the Certification of Inspection?

Set up by the Government of India under Section 3 of the Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act 1963, Export Inspection Council takes care of the quality and safety requirements of importing countries. With its head office in New Delhi, EIC has a Director of Inspection and Quality Control who is responsible for day-to-day functioning of the council. It provides quality assurance either through a consignment-based inspection or after visiting the field of the organization. It has various Export Inspection Agencies (EIAs) located in Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi, Delhi and Chennai with a network of 30 sub offices having NABL accredited laboratories.

EIC takes complete charge of ensuring quality standards in export of edible products and consumables like fish and fishery products, dairy product, honey, gelatine, feed additive, pre-mixtures and other non-food products as well. EIC is the only inspection organization in India that has a global acceptance3.

How to obtain a Certificate of Inspection?

In the case of international trade, inspections are usually conducted by independent inspection companies. Below is the step-by-step process to obtain a Certificate of Inspection (COI):

Step 1:

The importer arranges for a pre-shipment inspection, while the exporter makes the products available at the given time in the origin country.

Step 2:

Exporters usually hire a freight forwarder who helps them ensure that required information like Letter of Credit, Bill of Lading, Test Reports and other documents are accurate and provided to the inspection company.

Step 3:

The importer bears the cost of inspection. However, expenses involved in presenting the products for inspection like unpacking, handling and repackaging are borne by the exporter.
The document is issued by a designated inspector from a recognized inspection company after the inspection process is effectuated. While a few companies issue the certificate on the official letterhead of the inspection company immediately after the completion of inspection, others publish the report online.

Which countries require a Certificate of Inspection during import?

Most countries that import goods require an inspection certificate for shipments. Some of these countries include India, UK, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico, Japan, etc3. Importing countries also require other supporting export documents along with the inspection certificate like:

Bill of Lading:

A trade document that consists of details about the quantity, type and destination of export products. Bill of Lading can also be used as a shipment receipt at the arriving port.

Insurance Certificate:

A document that contains information about the insurance coverage of export products in case of any loss or damage.

Import/export license:

These licenses confirm that you are permitted to import or export to and from the country respectively.

Laboratory test report:

This is a test report issued after inspection of food and non-food products under export, which states whether they comply with the required standards or not.

All these documents ensure a smooth passage of the export shipment through customs. To make exporting from India easy for sellers and MSMEs, Amazon Global Selling, an e-commerce exports program, provides assistance at every step of the export journey. From obtaining export documents to easy product listing and international shipping, Amazon Global Selling enables Indian exporters to sell internationally in a simple way via e-commerce.

Easy e-commerce exports with Amazon
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As an e-commerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling enables Indian sellers and MSMEs to take their products from India to international marketplaces across 200+ countries and territories. From simple registration to attractive listing and hassle-free shipping, Amazon Global Selling offers international tools and solutions, enabling sellers to reach over 300 million customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a Certificate of Inspection valid for?
Certification of Inspection is valid for five years from the date of issue.
When is the inspection certificate issued?
After all products in the shipment are checked thoroughly to ensure they match quality standards stated in the agreement, an inspection certificate is issued.
At what stage is Certificate of Inspection required?
Usually, a Certificate of Inspection is issued after Bill of Lading, when the shipment is out for dispatch for shipping.
Who issues a Certificate of Inspection for exporting products from India?
The Export Inspection Council (EIC) is a government body responsible for export certification. It approves third-party inspection companies who inspect and certify products before it is shipped from India. Export Inspection Agencies are located across the country that provide mandatory certification for various export products.
Published on June 24, 2022.

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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

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