Just like every other type of shipping out there, if you are going to ship goods by sea then you are going to need to have a few key documents to hand. On this page, we are going to take a little look at some of the most important documents for transporting goods by sea.
If you are unsure as to whether you have the right documents or even whether you have filled out the documents you have correctly, talk to the freight forwarding company that you are dealing with. They will be more than happy to help you out. It is their job after all!
At the very minimum, you are going to need to have an Export Cargo Shipping Instruction, known as an ECSI. Think of this document as the contract between you and your shipping company. This document will be packed to the brim with information about the type of goods that you are shipping and where the goods are going to. It will also tell which boat your products are going to be sent out on. This is going to be important for planning.
In addition to your Export Cargo Shipping Instruction, you will also need one of two other important documents:
- Goods which are hazardous will need to have a Dangerous Goods Note prepared. This will detail what the hazard in that good is. This will ensure that the goods that you are shipping are looked after properly.
- Non-Hazardous goods will need a Standard Shipping Note. This will, basically, tell the shipper that the goods are not hazardous. It will also contain all of the information needed about that particular shipment. This includes details of the port that the container is being sent from. It will also include any relevant details about how to look after the ship properly. The shipping company will also use the standard shipping note to check whether your shipment is all in place when you ship it.
Finally, your shipment will need one of the following two documents. You will only need one of them:
- Bill of lading: This will be issued by the carrier of your goods. The main purpose of this will be to demonstrate that the carrier has your goods in their possession. In addition to this, it will highlight the contract that the carrier and you have agreed for the shipping of those goods. It will also show title of those goods.
- Sea Waybill: For the most part, this is exactly the same as the Bill of Lading. The only difference is that it does not show the title of the goods and does not confer title to the carrier. This will often be used when the buyer and the seller of the product already have a healthy relationship, or if the ownership of the product is not going to change hands e.g. if a company is shipping their product overseas to a company which they also own.