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Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate: A guide for manufacturers

PSIC is issued by an inspection agency to certify that the goods conform to the specifications stated on the sales contract. Learn more about its types and benefits.
Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate
In international trade, quality assurance and smooth customs procedures are central to seamless cross-border transactions. Manufacturers, exporters, and importers must understand the specific shipment requirements for certain goods which require specialized certifications to meet safety standards and shipments rules. This is where a Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate comes into play. A vital document in international trade, the PSIC ensures that shipped goods meet the requirements outlined in the sales contract and/or letter of credit1.

What is a Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate (PSIC)?

A Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate (PSIC) is a document issued by an independent inspection agency that certifies that the goods being shipped conform with the specifications stated on the sales contract and/or letter of credit.

As per India’s Foreign Trade Policy, the importer is required to provide the original copy of the PSIC document for customs clearance. However, in 2020, the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a trade notice, which clarified that a scanned copy of the PSIC document can be accepted for customs clearance, provided the original copy is submitted to Customs within 60 days of clearance2.

Types of PSIC

PSIC can be of two broad types4:

Commercial inspection certificate

This is a report of a pre-shipment inspection that is performed before production of a batch of products is completed. The report is sent to the customer to reassure them that the products conform with the stated criteria and regulations. Each stage of the production cycle includes one of four different types of quality inspections. These certificates lessen the likelihood of the buyer receiving subpar goods.

Official Inspection Certificate

In certain countries, the local customs office needs an inspection certificate for customs clearance. The certificate outlines what products are being sent, their quantity and size, their quality, price, and other specifications. It's important to note that these specifications differ from nation to nation.

Benefits of a Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate (PSIC)

You can save time and money in the following ways by having a pre-shipment inspection conducted before your goods leave the factory5:
● You can ensure your products meet the maker’s claims.
● You can make timely decisions and adjustments based on identified problems and their severity.
● It instils confidence in your consumers by guaranteeing that products meet quality, size, and quantity requirements.
● You can rest assured knowing that your goods will be safely handled and shipped.
● It accelerates import and customs processes.
● It offers unbiased confirmation of product shipments.
● It helps you avoid misunderstandings by making the condition of the goods clear.
● It helps reduce the time it takes to pass customs or release goods at the port of entry.

Standards that manufacturers must meet to pass a pre-shipment inspection

Pre-shipment inspectors use internationally accepted sampling criteria, such as the ANSI/ASQ Standard, to randomly sample finished goods based on batch volume. Following inspections are performed as part of the pre-shipment certification process6:

Craftsmanship assessment

● Examine product quality against accepted standards and limits.
● Check cracks, chips, scratches, dents, and other defects.
● Ensure seamless joints and connections.

Quantity verification

● Verify the batch’s item count.
● Ensure the correct number of sorted products are in the designated shipping cartons.

Product inspection

● Compare the product's overall design and quality to customer-approved sample items.
● Measure individual products physically to ensure they match customer-specified dimensions. In the pre-inspection checklist, the customer should also outline acceptable limits for imperfect dimensions.
● Compare finished products with the Pantone color codes provided by the customer.
● Check that labels and logos are attached to product and packaging.
● Check the label's typeface and size.

Weight compliance check

● Weigh products on scales to ensure compliance. An underweight or overweight sample may indicate that the producer used inferior or substitute materials or textiles in place of those requested by the customer.

Packing and packaging review

● Inspect principal packaging for vent holes prevent moisture and mold damage.
● Inspect secondary packaging to ensure it complies with the buyer's packaging specifications.
● Scan barcodes to make sure the data is accurate and readable.
● Check spelling and grammar on the labels of the packaging.

Special requirements and tests

Basic on-site testing is done to determine whether the products work properly and can endure the wear and tear of the regular use for which they are intended.

● On apparel, pull tests are performed on zips, buttons, and other attachments. Tensile tests are performed on stitching and fabric density is used to calculate material thickness and strength.
● On kitchenware, dishwashing, cooking, and scratch tests are performed to determine product function under normal use.

Format of a PSIC

A pre-shipment certificate has a specific format. The inspection agency must certify that7:

1. The imported consignment complies with internationally accepted parameters.
2. The consignment does not contain any symbol or marking related to the transport of dangerous goods classified as class 7 as per the United Nations classification.
3. Details of the importer, like name, address, IEC, telephone number, and email ID are included.
4. Details of the exporter, like name, address, IEC, telephone number, and email ID are included.
5. Details and quantity of import are accurate.
6. Details of the place and time of inspection are included.
7. Details of the radiation survey meter used should be specified.

A pre-shipment inspection certificate is a crucial commercial document that accompanies a shipment and confirms that the products meet the required quality standards and other criteria.
An impartial third-party inspection agency issues the report, and it can only be obtained after an inspector has examined all or a sample of the products and confirmed that they adhere to the requirements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three methods of pre-shipment inspection?
The three steps of pre-shipment inspection comprise consignment-wise inspection, in-process quality control, and self-certification.
How can I check my PSIC report online?
You need to visit the DGFT website, click on “Services”, and then choose pre-shipment inspection to check the status of your PSIC report8.
Published on January 8, 2023.

Sources:
1. https://www.qima.com/quality-control-services/pre-shipment-inspection-certificate
2. https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/Trade_Notice_9.pdf
3. https://www.indiafilings.com/learn/dgft-clarification-on-pre-shipment-inspection-certificate-psic/
4. https://www.qima.com/quality-control-services/pre-shipment-inspection-certificate
5. https://www.hqts.com/pre-shipment-inspection-certificate-guide/
6. https://www.qima.com/quality-control-services/pre-shipment-inspection-certificate
7. https://www.indiafilings.com/learn/dgft-online-module-for-of-pre-shipment-inspection-certificates-psics/
8. https://www.indiafilings.com/learn/dgft-clarification-on-pre-shipment-inspection-certificate-psic/

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