When you prepare your goods for shipment, you will be required to prepare a detailed export packing list. This is a formal document that itemises quite a number of details about the cargo such as:
- Your name and contact details
- The importer’s/consignee’s/buyer’s name, address and contact details
- The gross, tare and net weights of the cargo
- The nature, quality and specifications of the product being shipped
- The type of package (such as pallet, box, crate, drum, carton, etc.)
- The measurements/dimensions of each package
- The number of pallets/boxes/crates/drums, etc.
- The contents of each pallet or box (or other container)
- The package markings, if any, as well as shipper’s and buyer’s reference numbers
It is also important that the details on the packing list (such as shipper’s/importer’s details, number of items involved, etc.), match what is stipulated on the commercial invoice and bill of lading/airway bill. You can imagine that if there is a mismatch between the packing list and the other transport/export documents that this may lead to closer scrutiny of the cargo and may ultimately result in delays in the cargo arriving at its destination! Note that pricing information is not required on the packing list.
If you are exporting to a market using imperial measures (such as the US or the UK), provide weights and dimensions in both metric (kg and mm), as well as imperial (lbs and inches).
The purpose of the packing list
The packing list should be attached to the outside of a package in a waterproof envelope or plastic sheath marked “Packing list enclosed”. The list is used by the shipper or forwarding agent to determine (1) the total shipment weight and volume and (2) whether the correct cargo is being shipped. In addition, customs officials (both local and foreign) may use the list to check the cargo. Packing lists come in fairly standard forms and can be obtained from your freight forwarder.
Don’t make mistakes with the packing list
It is essential that the packing list agree exactly with all the terms and conditions of the export sale. It is important for you to realise that any mistake on the packing list may cause a delay in clearance at the port of destination. Customs Authorities in the target country have the right to delay the clearance of the shipment until the importer provides a packing list reflecting the real contents of the container (should your packing list be incomplete or incorrect). If all the information required for the packing list is already stated in the commercial invoice, then the packing list may be unnecessary. Our recommedndation is to provide it anyway – you don’t want the consigment delayed simply becuase a customs official demands to see a packing list (you can never provide too much information).
Examples of packing lists