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What is a Shipping Manifest

In the world of international shipping, a freight manifest is an important document that accompanies every shipment. It serves as a record of the goods being transported, outlining details from the sender and recipient to the type and quantity of goods in the shipment. Properly understanding and using shipping checklists can ensure a smooth and efficient shipping process.

What is a Shipping Manifest

What is a shipping manifest?

A shipping manifest is a detailed list of the contents of a shipment. It typically includes shipper information, consignee information, shipment details, quantity, weight, dimensions, and any special handling instructions. This document is essential for customs clearance, insurance and inventory tracking.

In other words, you need a comprehensive inventory list and shipments from the origin to the final destination. This list is called a shipping list.

What does a transport manifest include?

As mentioned earlier, a freight manifest contains a lot of information that is critical to accurately tracking, processing, and delivering your shipment.

Here’s what you need to mention in your checklist:

  • Project Description: Detailed description of all projects. For example, you must mention the product name, specifications and any relevant data.
  • Quantity: You must ensure that both the sender and the recipient know the exact quantity of goods in the shipment.
  • Weight: Weight limits are very important when shipping from China. You must mention the weight of each item as well as the total weight of the shipment.
  • Dimensions: Measurements such as length, width, and height of an item determine the space requirements for shipping. Please remember to mention any oversized or irregularly shaped items for proper shipping and handling.
  • Destination Details: The manifest should include the exact address, contact person and any specific delivery instructions.
  • Shipping Method: Shipping method and route details are critical to tracking shipping progress.
  • Special Handling Instructions: You must provide special instructions for fragile or hazardous items to ensure safety.
  • Regulatory Information: Last but not least, you must provide all information to prove that your shipment complies with regulations. For example, you must include relevant customs documents, tariff codes, and declarations required for international shipments.

Why is the shipping manifest important?

Customs Clearance: Customs officials rely on manifests to verify the contents of goods and ensure compliance with import and export regulations.
Insurance Coverage: Insurance companies use manifests to determine the value of cargo for insurance coverage purposes.
Inventory Management: Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers rely on inventories to track inventory and ensure timely delivery.

How to create a shipping manifest?

  • Gather information: Gather all necessary information about your shipment as we mentioned in the previous section.
  • Choose a format: Choose the right format for your shipping manifest. You can determine the use of digital and physical documents based on regulations.
  • List Items: Enter a list of items for your shipment in the format of your choice.
  • Include shipping details: Add shipping details such as address, shipping method, carrier information, and any tracking or reference numbers.
  • Add regulatory information: Include any documents required by customs and other authorities, such as tariff codes, declarations, and licenses.
  • Inspection and Verification: Double-check the information in the shipping manifest to make sure everything is in order.
  • Submitting a manifest: Sometimes you need to submit a manifest to the relevant authorities.
  • Monitor shipments: Track your shipment to make sure it reaches its destination on time and intact.

Advantages of using shipping manifest

Here are three advantages of using a shipping manifest when importing goods from China:

Greater efficiency: If you prepare a well-organized checklist, it can clearly show the contents and details of your shipment. This helps carriers optimize processes and ensure timely delivery. In fact, loading procedures and customs clearance will be better managed.
More transparency: When parties access the inventory, they will have real-time information so there are no misunderstandings. In fact, shippers and consignees know exactly what is being shipped and its location. Additionally, the carrier can promptly communicate any discrepancies or delays. This means better communication throughout the supply chain, which is crucial in international trade.
Reduce risk: The more details, the better. In fact, a detailed checklist minimizes the chance of error. Accurate information in your manifest can prevent issues like lost packages, shipping errors or delays.

What are the classifications of transport manifests?

Cargo/freight manifest
This type of manifest provides a detailed list of all cargo or shipments on a specific ship. The cargo list includes information such as item description, quantity, weight, quantity and destination of each shipment.

Import General Manifest (IGM)
When you want to import goods into a country by ship or aircraft, you need an Import General Manifest (IGM). It is actually a mandatory document that contains comprehensive details of the goods and must be provided at the port of destination before the goods arrive. In fact, officials are required to verify the manifest before the shipment arrives.

Dangerous goods manifest
As its name suggests, this manifest specifically identifies and records the hazardous or dangerous goods you want to transport.
You are required to include information in this manifest regarding the nature of the hazardous materials, packaging requirements, and all other handling and transportation safety precautions.

Out of Limits (OOG) Manifest
OOG manifests are used for oversized or irregularly shaped cargo. In other words, if your product is larger than standard, you need an OOG listing. In this listing, you must provide details about the dimensions, weight, and special handling requirements for your out-of-gauge product.

Refrigerated manifest
Refrigerated manifests are used to transport temperature-sensitive cargo. For example, if you want to transport products such as perishable food or pharmaceuticals, you’ll need refrigerated or temperature-controlled shipping. The checklist must include information on temperature settings, monitoring requirements and handling procedures.

Container manifest
Last but not least, container manifests are specific to cargo consisting of multiple containers. You will need a detailed list of the contents of each container along with the container number, seal number and destination of each container.

learn more: 20ft, 40ft And 40ft HC Shipping Containers Guide

Shipping containers from China

What is the difference between a shipping manifest and other documents?

Now, it’s time to understand what are the main differences between a freight manifest and other documents of cargo:

Sea Freight Manifest VS Air Freight Manifest

Sea freight manifests and air freight manifests serve similar purposes but are used for different modes of transportation.
As the name suggests, air cargo manifest is specifically for air cargo. A transport manifest, on the other hand, is used for goods that are shipped by sea or land.
Both documents provide detailed information about the contents of the shipment, including item description, quantity and destination. However, they require specific regulatory information on the alleged mode of transport.

Shipping Manifest VS Bill of Lading

Shipping manifests and bills of lading serve different purposes. A shipping list is a comprehensive inventory list of all items in a shipment.
However, the bill of lading is a contract between the shipper and the carrier. The BOL is also an important legal document for your shipment.
This document contains details about the shipment’s origin, destination, contents, and shipping terms. It is also the receipt and ownership document for your product.

Shipping List VS Packing List

Shipping manifests and packing lists differ in scope and purpose. They are both used to record the contents of a shipment, but a shipping manifest only provides an inventory of the entire shipment.
A packing slip, on the other hand, is a more detailed breakdown of the contents of each package in your shipment.
Packing list includes item number, dimensions and packaging materials. Additionally, shipping manifests are often useful for regulatory compliance and shipping logistics.
This is different from the purpose of packing slips, which are primarily used for inventory management and order fulfillment.

The freight manifest is an important document for any international shipment. By understanding its purpose, content, and how to create and manage it, shippers can ensure a smooth and efficient shipping process. By following best practices and leveraging technology, shippers can further optimize their manifest management and enhance their overall transportation operations.

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