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What is a packing list?

A packing list is a document used in international trade. It provides the exporter, international freight forwarder, and ultimate consignee with information about the shipment, including how it's packed, the dimensions and weight of each package, and the marks and numbers that are noted on the outside of the boxes.

What are some other names for a packing list?

Other names used to describe a packing list are bill of the parcel, unpacking note, packing slip, delivery docket, delivery list, manifest, shipping list, and customer receipt.

Is a packing list a legal necessity?

While not technically a required document for Customs, a packing list is helpful to include in your shipment as it makes the import/export process easier for both shippers and Customs.

Why is a packing list important when exporting goods from a given country?

  • It provides a count of the product that is being shipped

  • It serves as proof of the inland Bill of Lading

  • It indicated the information required for the Certificate of Origin

  • It provides much of the detail needed by the Electronic Export Information section in the Automated Export System.

  • It serves as proof of a Material Safety Data Sheet, in the case that goods are deemed hazardous or dangerous.

  • It is used to create a booking with the international carrier, as well as obtaining an international Bill of Lading.

  • It helps the Customs broker when entering the listed goods in their country’s import database, as it contains important information.

  • It serves as a guide for the receiver/buyer when counting the product that they received.

  • It serves as a supporting document for reimbursement under a letter of credit.

How do I make an export packing list?

Your export packing list needs to include information about the number of units, boxes, and any other available packaging information, and all of those details should match the Commercial Invoice and reflect the same parties involved in the transaction.

Packing lists should also indicate if solid wood was used to pack the shipment and provide the necessary fumigation or heat treatment certificate if applicable.

When creating a packing list, make sure to include as much detail as possible about the shipment. Some important details to include are:

  • Date

  • Shipper and exporter contact information

  • Consignee contact information

  • The origin address of cargo

  • The destination address of cargo

  • Total number of packages within this shipment

  • A detailed description of each package

  • The volume and weight of each package

  • The volume and weight of the entire shipment

  • Commercial invoice number for this shipment

For shipments that include fragile items requiring specialized handling, visit our page on Secure and Specialized Fragile Shipping for best practices and advice on ensuring your delicate goods arrive safely.

Need help? Reach out to one of our experts to make sure you don’t miss any important documents in the import process.


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