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4 Common Misconceptions about Packing List

Many shippers are aware of the importance of Bill of Lading; however, the importance of packing list must not be overlooked.

Whether you are filling out a packing list to export commercial merchandise or to move overseas, there are important aspects of this document you need to be aware of. A simple misunderstanding of this document may result in unnecessary delays and their corresponding fees.

Here are 4 common misconceptions regarding packing list.

1. Information on a packing list should be kept to minimal

Wrong. The packing list should include details such as dimensions and weight not only of all the individual boxes and packages but the entire shipment as well. Full contact information for the shipper/exporter and consignee must also be listed on the packing list. You may give our article on how to fill out a packing list for a more detailed look at what should information you need to include.

When creating a packing list for an overseas move, each package should be described with the general commodity. For example, ‘kitchenware’ is an acceptable description of dishes, bowls, cutting boards, cutlery etc. You do not have to break it down to the quantity of each item; an overall description per box will work. If you have packed items from different categories, you will need multiple descriptions, such as ‘books and linen’.

For commercial shipments, you should also specify the Incoterm under which the shipment will be sent. Make sure that it is consistent across all your documents.

2. Packing list is same as commercial invoice

The packing list and commercial invoice are similar in terms of the information that’s listed on both forms. But there’s a difference in terms of functionality. You’re required to indicate the commercial invoice number on the packing list and information on both documents must correspond. But the commercial invoice cannot substitute the packing list and vice versa.

As mentioned, the packing list details the quantity, type, weight, and dimensions of the cargo being shipped and is a required document in the event of disputes and claims. The commercial invoice, however, is a legal document between the supplier and the customer that not only describes’ the goods being sold but also the amount the customer has to pay to obtain the goods.

Another way to look at it is: The packing list is usually sent to the receiver of the goods, while the commercial invoice is sent to the party responsible for the payment of the goods.

3. Estimated weight can be shown on packing list

Wrong. The packing list should include details such as dimensions and weight not only of all the You should never put an estimated approximate weight on packing list as this could result in an unnecessary inspection and delays. When a shipment arrives at the port - be its origin or destination - it is usually weighed and measured. Any discrepancies between the actual weight and what’s written on the packing list may arouse suspicion and customs authorities may deem it necessary to hold your container while they conduct an inspection. The shipment cannot be moved until the contents and information of the cargo are determined to be correct.

4. Packing list for an export is same as the packing list for an international move

No, the packing list for commercial exports generally requires more details. These include the monetary details of all items being shipped. This allows customs authorities to assess the value of the overall cargo and ensure that the correct number of items are accounted for.

When creating the packing list for an international move, keep in mind that the packing list will not only be used for customs clearance, it can also be a very useful resource for you to keep track of all your items including how and in which boxes they are packaged. Some of our clients have found that making a very organized and detailed packing list actually made it easier for them to ensure that they have loaded everything at destination and upon arrival, that they have received everything.