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

midpage testimonials 2 - Documentation involved in a sea freight shipment

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..

What did you think of the above article..?? Comment below..

34 comments on “Documentation involved in a sea freight shipment

  1. Quite Informative article

  2. Koffi M says:

    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.

    1. Thanks Koffi.. Sorry I don’t understand the terms CBP or FDA as many countries have many acronyms.. If you are importing for the time, maybe my Beginner’s Guide to Importing will be of assistance..

    2. Koffi M says:

      Thank you Sir for replying to my post and question. I meant by CBP ( Customs and Border Protection) and FDA stand for ( Federal Drugs Administration). Once again, Keep up the good work

  3. Lenny says:

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

    1. Of course Lenny.. Thanks for adding SOLAS VGM to the list.. 🙂

  4. Joseph Philimon says:

    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

    1. Hello Joseph, please feel free to read and ask your questions on any of the articles.. That is the best way to improve knowledge..

  5. Bruce Hanson says:

    Sincerely appreciate the information. Great job!!!

  6. jans says:

    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.

  7. Shannon says:

    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.

  8. Daniel Bogdan says:

    Great article and perfectly explained too…Bas le chapeau Hariesh!

  9. Velani says:

    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.

    1. Thanks for the additional points Velani.. I separated because not all countries use EUR1 and use COO instead.. 🙂

  10. Haroon Rashid Akhtar says:

    I salute you for such a nice and perfect brief note on shipping docs

    1. Why, thank you Haroon.. Salutation accepted.. 🙂

  11. Raju says:

    Another great article…. Perfectly explained!

  12. Gilbert says:

    Good information shared

    1. Glad to help Gilbert..

  13. Agnes Kamene Musau says:

    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.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Agnes.. 🙂

  14. shyam shelke says:

    Thanks for sharing the information

    1. You are welcome Shyam, pls do share with your peers..

  15. Ujjal Roy says:

    thanks a lot Sir

  16. Htet Ko Zin says:

    Thanks a lot, sir

  17. umair says:

    good one sumita

  18. hwei fong says:

    Agree with Smita.

    Exporter does not prepare purchase order.

  19. Smita says:

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

    1. Hi Smita, thanks for the observation.. Have corrected it.. 🙂

  20. Thank you for a good blog. Indeed, documentation can be a complicated affair – good to get an overview like this.

    Specifically for LCL shipments – take a look at where we try to cover what the content is of some of the most common documents.

    1. Shaheer Yusuff says:

      THANKS SMITA. Indeed very helpful information.

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