Packing list in exports: Importance and usage

A packing list, a document used in international trade, contains all the required information about the shipment. Here's a guide to understand its importance and list of contents.
Packing list for export
As per the Foreign Trade Policy in India, every international shipment exported from India must be accompanied by either an invoice and Customs Packing List or a Commercial Invoice-cum-Packing List. To facilitate smooth and easy export procedure, the government has reduced the number of documents to be submitted to the customs department. It has merged Commercial Invoice and Packing List, allowing exporters to submit a combined document at the time of shipment1.

While the two export documents have been merged, they cannot substitute the other. A Commercial Invoice specifies the import or export goods value, while the Packing List consists of accurate examination and information of contents of the package like weight and measurement2. Both these documents are different and hold varied but high significance during customs clearance.

What is a packing list in exports?

A packing list is an important export document that provides the exporter, overseas freight forwarder and international customer or importer with required details about the contents of the shipment being exported from India. It includes information like weight, country of origin, name of the vessel, purchase order number, details of the consignee, place of delivery, etc. A Packing List helps the transport and logistics partner to have all the required details of the shipment being carried by them. This is a mandatory document and must accompany every export shipment from India.

Importance of packing list for exports

As a key document required for exports, below are a few reasons why packing list is important while exporting:
• It indicates the quantity or number of the product(s) being shipped – as a guide for the customer or importer.
• It aids in booking shipments with overseas shipping lines and carriers and getting an International Bill of Lading.
• It provides the requisite details needed for Certificate of Origin.
• It acts as proof of a Material Safety Data Sheet for shipping dangerous goods.
• It helps international customs broker make accurate cargo entries in their country’s import database.
• It is considered a supporting document for a Letter of Credit-based (LOC) reimbursement.
• It also serves as a supporting document for any dispute between the carrier and exporter regarding the shipment’s contents.

Contents of an exports packing list

A packing list must have details of each package including number of units, weight, measurements and packaging information that matches the invoice. It should be a part of the carton or package and is usually attached to the external shipment with a copy inside the shipment3.
• Exporter/Consignor details
• Customer/consignee details
• Invoice number and date
• Purchase order number
• Any other shipment-related reference number
• Country of origin
• Country of final destination
• Name of the vessel/flight (In case of a vessel, voyage number needs to be added)
• Pre-carriage transport
• Place of receipt
• Port of loading
• Port of discharge
• Delivery and payment details
• Marking and numbering
• Amount and cargo type
• Description of merchandise
• Shipment information
• Declaration stating that Packing List information is accurate
• Other remarks (as required)
• Authorized signatory (duly dated and stamped)
While exporting from India requires a set of documents and licenses including Packing List, the government of India has been working towards making exports simpler with more paperless and online transactions. In line with this vision, e-commerce exports program Amazon Global Selling enables Indian exporters to sell internationally without having to set up a physical store or warehouse in the destination country.

How to make an export packing list?

An export packing list may vary depending on the type of shipment, — either full container load (FCL) or less than container load (LCL) and air freight shipment.

Full container load (FCL):

FCL denotes containers exclusively loaded with goods from a single consignor for a specific consignee.3 These containers can be transported directly to the consignee or through intermediaries like freight forwarders or agents with different product-wise details in a packing list. Usually, Cargo Terminal Operators (CTOs) have the authorization to release FCL containers directly for home consumption, simplifying the customs clearance process in many instances.

Less than container load (LCL):

Contrarily, LCL refers to shipments that occupy less than the total container space available. In LCL shipments, goods from at least two distinct consignees are consolidated within the same container. Whether shipped through an FCL arrangement to a freight forwarder/agent or not, LCL shipments necessitate deconsolidation under customs control at licensed customs premises with solely packing list detail.

Air freight shipment:

The air freight shipments mean the shipment via air involves a packing list that might not include all items typically found on a regular packing list. Instead, it primarily focuses on weight and dimensions. These details act as a reference for the carrier to evaluate the cargo's weight and volume, which are crucial factors used in determining the airfare for transportation.4
A packing list is a vital document required for exporting products from India, as mandated by the Foreign Trade Policy. It serves as crucial information for freight forwarders and C&F agents in preparing shipping documents and customs clearance. Additionally, the importing country's customs authority relies on the packing list to assess inbound shipments, ensuring compliance and facilitating inspections.

While exporting from India requires a set of documents and licenses including Packing List, the government of India has been working towards making exports simpler with more paperless and online transactions. In line with this vision, e-commerce exports program Amazon Global Selling enables Indian exporters to sell internationally without having to set up a physical store or warehouse in the destination country.

Easy e-commerce exports with Amazon
Global Selling

As an e-commerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling enables Indian sellers and MSMEs to take their products from India to international marketplaces across 200+ countries and territories. From simple registration to attractive listing and hassle-free shipping, Amazon Global Selling offers international tools and solutions, enabling sellers to reach over 300 million customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some other names for a packing list?
The packing list goes by various names such as bill of the parcel, unpacking note, packing slip, delivery docket, delivery list, manifest, shipping list, and customer receipt.5
What is the purpose of an export packing list?
A packing list provides the contents of each package, providing weights, measurements, and itemized goods lists. It aids freight forwarders in assessing weights and costs while serving as a reference for customs officials to verify package contents during inspections.2
Who needs an export packing list?
It is a common export document that is necessarily required by the exporter for the shipment, which helps their products clear customs seamlessly into their target market.6
Is a packing list mandatory for export?
Yes. The mandatory documents required as per the Foreign Trade Policy are:
• Bill of Lading
• Commercial Invoice
• Packing List
• Other documents depending on destination country and product category
What is the difference between delivery note and packing list?
A delivery note refers to a document listing the products which form a part of the delivery. A packing list provides a description of the products, pricing and other key shipment information.
What is the difference between a Packing List and a Bill of Lading?
A Bill of Lading is a legal document that confirms that the export shipment was delivered. A packing list refers to the form which describes the goods to be exported, including quantity, box, weight, dimension, price, and related shipment information.
Who prepares a Packing List?
Usually, a shipper prepares the packing list for export.
Published on June 10, 2022.


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