Documentation involved in a sea freight shipment

A reader posed a question “what are the documentation involved in a sea freight shipment”

Shipping is a very dynamic industry and it involves various entities in the process of an export or import..

Exporter, Importer, clearing agent, forwarder………… all of them have to prepare or arrange one or more documents in order to ensure that the shipment is handled properly and effectively..

Lets examine some the main documents prepared by these entities..

Documentation in shipping
prepares or arranges

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Marine insurance depending on the Incoterms agreed upon for the shipment
  • EUR1
  • Shipping Instructions for the Bill of Lading
  • Permits or licences required for the export of the product from a country

Importer – prepares or arranges

  • Permits or licences required for the import of the product into the destination country
  • Marine insurance depending on the Incoterms agreed upon for the shipment
  • Duly endorsed original bill of lading or Telex Release message to be handed over to the shipping line for the release of cargo
  • Delivery instructions to the shipping line for the release of the cargo
  • Clearance from health, phytosanitary and other such authorities depending on the cargo

Freight Forwarder (acting on behalf of the exporter or importer) – prepares and arranges

  • Delivery Notes
  • Forwarders Cargo Receipt
  • Shipping Instructions for the Bill of Lading
  • House Bill of Lading
  • Marine Insurance
  • Cargo inspection certificates
  • Hazardous packing declarations
  • ATA Carnet

Clearing Agentsprepares or arranges

  • Customs clearance documents
  • Port Documentation
  • Duty and VAT exemption documents

Shipping Lines or their agentsprepares or arranges

Haulage companiesprepares or arranges

  • TREM cards where hazardous cargo movements are involved
  • road permits for overweight or special cargoes
  • overborder permits
  • port entry documents
  • route survey documents for abnormal cargoes
  • border clearance documents

Intermodal operatorsprepares or arranges

  • documentation for inland haulage,
  • rail movement,
  • road permits
  • overborder permits
  • border clearance documents

Surveyorsprepares or arranges

  • cargo inspection
  • survey reports (draft survey, quantity survey, damage survey etc)

Documentation involved in a sea freight shipmentBanksprepares or arranges

Insurance Brokers – prepares or arranges

These are by no means the full extent of documentation involved in a sea freight shipment..

Depending on the cargo, exporter, importer, bank, destination, shipping line, government etc etc, there are many more documentation that is required..

But these are the basic documents that are prepared by various entities for a sea-freight shipment..

Apart from the above there are also other entities such as Port, Customs, Excise, Police, Health, Veterinary authorities that are involved with the shipments and they would be preparing their own documentation..

As you can see, a single shipment depends on the co-operation and co-ordination of several entities to make it happen..

If you know or prepare other documentation involved in a sea freight shipment, do share the information..

38 thoughts on “Documentation involved in a sea freight shipment

  1. what documentation needed if the customer wants to import full container of frozen chicken by sea on a Free Carrier (FCA)basis??

  2. Hi
    I am interested in knowing the process of issuing FCR by Forwarder . In case of CFS load the forwarder can identify the cargo condition and then issue the FCR . But if the load type in CY how does Forwarder inspects the cargo to issue the FCR document to supplier ?

  3. Nice article, pls sir i want to start timbers exportation. What are the primary steps i need to take ? Tnx

  4. I love this blog so much, I spent my free time on here. Thank you Mr Hariesh Manaadiar. I have a question though: I’m working on start importing goods and household items from Africa to US. However, I don’t know if i should be contacting CBP or FDA and what kind of forms or certifications i should have. I have been reading a lot on the matter, but i’m still confused. I would really appreciate your help or any other person’s help. Thank you.

  5. Hariesh, one more document that is needed from shipper (since July 2016) is the VGM Certificate (Verified Gross Mass).
    Keep the great articles coming!

  6. Article is so nice and understandable…. Dear friend im from Tanzania and i take studies concern transport. I need more knowledge and experience cornern this industries,, i need help from any body who have any knowledge concern. Thanks

  7. For bulk shipments there are also some ship-shore documentation required like shippers cargo declaration ( ref BLU code). Acceptance note of cargohold cleanliness etc. Notice of Readiness is an important one whatever type of sea transport.

  8. Hi Hariesh

    Excellent article – however, what about the clearing instruction that the Importer must fully complete in SA. This document is becoming a huge issue with SARS at present.

  9. Great article Hariesh. I see you separated the certificate of origin (COO) with EUR1. EUR1 is one type of a COO for getting a preferential rate of duty on goods meeting the EU protocols as per the EU agreement provided those countries have ratified the agreement.

  10. The article is well explained, simple and with good flow.
    Thanks Hariesh, you continue to educate me with each and every article.
    It has become my reference points.
    Thank you so so much.
    keep on educating majority of us, we appreciate you.

  11. Nice one, however suggest to make a change in Exporter’s actions. He does not prepare the purchase order but Quotation. Thanks!!

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