If you are an ecommerce business that sends international shipments frequently, you must learn how to prepare an ironclad shipping manifest document. Since the shipping manifest is essentially the label and the representation of the shipment, it has to be perfect and according to the required standards. This will ensure that your parcel goes through every custom seamlessly, and you won’t have to deal with delays.
In this blog, we will understand the concept and workings of the shipping manifest so that you can avoid difficulties while sending your next international shipment.
2) What is a Shipping Manifest?
Manifest is a non-legal document containing the list of items transported in a single consignment or vehicle from their source to the destination. The cargo details in terms of consignee information, operator name, quality, type and dimensions of the product, and shipping route to make shipping clearer and more precise.
The shipper-designated carriers use the manifest to transport cargo and verify the cargo and destination materials based on the details listed in the manifest. This document and a bill of lading by authorities grant entry and exit through ports.
3) How to create a Manifest?
Most carriers have an existing shipping manifest template on their website. Many major carriers, like USPS, DHL, DPD, etc., provide a manifest when you book an order with them. These manifests can be divided into two primary categories – Physical and Electronically submitted.
Some carriers will generate an electronic manifest by collecting your information when booking. This manifest is then electronically attached to the shipment and submitted to the authorities so that you do not have to worry about losing it during the shipping process. These electronically submitted manifests are generally offered by carriers that provide customs clearance support and can be helpful in developing a hands-off international shipping process.
The second method to generate a shipping manifest with the carrier is by downloading a PDF. If your carrier does not electronically submit your shipping manifest, they will provide the shipping manifest in a downloadable PDF format. Once the form has been downloaded, you will have to fill in the necessary details about the destination, shipping address as well as contents of the shipments. Once this is done, ensure that the shipping manifest is adequately secured to the packaging with adhesives and there is no risk of losing it in transit.
4) What should be included in a manifest?
If your shipping manifest does not have all the required details, there is a risk that the customs might reject your shipment, or it may undergo further scrutiny. This can result in unexpected delays and increased costs. To avoid these, you need to make sure that your shipping manifest has the following details:
Quantity of packages in the cargo
Type of commodities
Description of the products
Information about the consignee
Method of transportation
Details of the shipper
5) 5 Main Purposes of Using a Cargo Manifest
A cargo manifest is a mandatory document with most shipments. This is because that one document will serve multiple purposes in the shipping process. These purposes include:
5.1) Customs Document
The shipping manifest is used to declare the quantity, nature, and type of goods in the shipment. The primary use of the shipping manifest is to report the goods being imported to the respective customs authorities. Most customs authorities do not release the order in their domestic circuit with a proper manifest.
5.2) Tracking On-board Inventory
Since the manifest contains details about the goods onboard, it can also be an excellent medium to track the goods on a vessel. This allows the customs authorities, as well as the recipients, to determine inaccuracies or loss of shipments during the transit process.
5.3) Merchandise Verification
Shipments can be lost or damaged during transit. The manifest serves as a central document where the shipment's contents are verified for all official purposes. Since multiple parties are involved in the entire process, verifying the contents with each party can be challenging.
5.4) Highlights the required precaution
If you send goods across the globe, likely, your goods move around with multiple carriers. The logistics sector has a different format for every type of goods shipped to enable seamless carriers between several carriers. A shipping manifest can be an excellent way to highlight the necessary precautions that need to be taken.
5.5) Seamless Claims against Lost/damaged Shipments
In case your shipment is lost or damaged, you will need to make a claim with the insurance company. The cargo manifest serves as an excellent medium to quantify the losses. The document becomes crucial in verifying the merchandise and if the sender declared the required precaution.
6) 5 Common Types of shipping manifests
With the variety of shipping methods and strategies followed in the modern logistics sector, each method has its format of a shipping manifest. Some of the common types of shipping manifests include:
6.1) Freight Manifest
Freight Manifest is used for freight shipments, typically with bulk quantities of the same goods. Therefore, the shipping manifest for this shipping method will show related consignment details, including the total quantity of items and the weight and description of a single item. The freight charges are also disclosed on the manifest to ensure hassle-free collection of freight charges.
6.2) Out of Gauge Manifest
The Out-of-Gauge manifest is used for items that cannot fit in any of the conventional shapes. Since this cargo cannot be packed in a box or crate, the manifest will have details about the dimensions and shape of the goods, along with special packaging needs, if any. The manifest will also declare any storage or stacking guidelines to ensure the safety of goods.
6.3) Cargo Manifest
The manifest required to import/export an item from the port is known as a cargo manifest. They are typically used with international shipments to make the customs clearance process as easy as possible. The import and export manifest must be generated and submitted before the shipment leaves the port. Customs officials thoroughly scrutinize these manifests. Hence, they need to have all the required information on them.
6.4) Hazardous Cargo Manifest
Goods and Cargo that are chemically or biologically hazardous have to be handled with care. The import/export rules of these goods are also different as compared to the common goods. Therefore, these goods' shipping manifest is different compared to a standard cargo manifest. The manifest will include the type of hazardous materials as well as instructions and labels to ensure maximum safety in transit.
6.5) Reefer Manifest
With technology, you can now send perishable and temperature-sensitive goods across the globe. However, precautions must be taken to ship them as there are a lot of specifics involved. A Reefer manifest is used for temperature-controlled shipments to ensure all the details are shared on the label and there is no miscommunication when the shipments are transferred from one carrier to another.
As an ecommerce business, it becomes essential to learn how to create a flawless shipping manifest. The document is the representation of your shipment for every verification. Therefore, if your shipping manifest does not have any mistakes, it will make importing, exporting as well as insurance claims effortlessly.
8) FAQs On Manifest
8.1) What is the Difference Between Manifest and Bill of Lading?
Manifest is a non-legal document consisting of the cargo details primarily for the verification of the consignment when delivered at the destination port. In comparison, the Bill Of Lading or BOL is a legal quasi-negotiable document that binds the shipper and the buyer to the agreed-upon terms and conditions of shipping with specific details of the consignment.
At the same time, BOL can be used to transfer cargo ownership, whereas a manifest is only a document for verification of cargo and shipping guidance. And unlike BOL, a Manifest document cannot be used as a receipt to acknowledge the appropriate loading and unloading of cargo at the port. Having said that, both these documents are used by the authorities for confirmation of the release of cargo through the port. However, in case of liability issues, the Bill of Lading is the document referred to further the case.
8.2) Is a cargo manifest mandatory?
Cargo manifest becomes mandatory in case of international shipments. Almost all customs authorities require the document to verify the shipment's contents and import it into their respective countries. While it may not be the case for domestic shipments, it is advised that you still generate it as it comes in very handy in case of insurance claims.