Packing List

A packing list (PL) is an important document that accompanies any shipment and provides detailed information about the goods being shipped.

It includes item descriptions, the quantity of each item, the total weight of the shipment, package dimensions and type, country of origin for the goods, special instructions related to their handling or storage requirements, and a unique identifier such as a barcode or serial number.

The packing list also serves as proof of delivery if necessary. Shippers use it to ensure accuracy in shipments and by logistics providers for tracking purposes.



Frequently Asked Questions About the Packing List for SMBs

In case you have any questions regarding the packing list, please find below a list of frequently asked questions.


What is the Difference Between a Bill of Lading and a Packing List

A Bill of Lading (B/L) is a contractual document outlining terms of shipment, ownership transfer, and carrier responsibilities. A packing list details the contents, quantities, and packaging of individual packages within a shipment. B/L is legally binding, while a packing list aids in accurate handling, customs clearance, and inventory management. B/L involves contractual and legal aspects, while a packing list focuses on logistical details for proper cargo handling and verification.


Can a Packing List Be Used instead of Bill of Lading

No, a packing list cannot replace a Bill of Lading because it has a different purpose. A Bill of Lading (B/L) is a legally binding document that serves as a contract of carriage, evidence of ownership transfer, and receipt of goods. A packing list provides details about contents and packaging but doesn’t hold the same legal and contractual significance as a B/L in international trade.


What Isn’t Included on a Packing List?

A packing list focuses on the physical details of the shipment’s contents, packaging, and quantities, while other documents, like the Bill of Lading, handle legal, contractual, and financial aspects of international shipping.

A packing list typically does not include:

  • Financial details or payment terms.
  • Contractual terms and conditions of shipment.
  • Carrier responsibilities and liability information.
  • Title transfer of goods.
  • Customs clearance information.
  • Regulatory or legal details related to the shipment.
  • Freight charges or shipping rates.
  • Delivery instructions or recipient’s signature.
  • Insurance coverage or claims information.
  • Bill of Lading (B/L) number or reference.


How Do Full Container Load (FCL) and Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipments Affect the Packing List in International Shipping?

When shipping internationally, the type of container load you choose, either Full Container Load (FCL) or Less than Container Load (LCL)—can have implications for your packing list.

  • Full Container Load (FCL): When deciding on FCL, you’re simply renting an entire container for your goods. In this case, the packing list would detail all the items that fill the container. 
  • Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL, you share container space with other shippers. Consequently, each shipper must provide a separate packing list for their portion of the goods in the container. The packing list in an LCL shipment is equally important for customs and verification but may require more details like marks and numbers for identification to differentiate your goods from others in the same container.

In both FCL and LCL options, the packing list serves as a key document for carriers, customs officials, and consignees to confirm the accuracy of the shipment, facilitate customs clearance, and ensure proper handling. Therefore, regardless of the load type, a carefully drafted packing list is essential for smooth international shipping operations.


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