What is a shipping advice and how does it work?

Shipping advice is a document that communicates vital information regarding the movement of goods from one location to another. Learn more about its structure and functions in this blog post.
Shipping advice
Efficient shipping processes are integral to the success of any export business. To navigate the intricate landscape of international shipping, clear communication between concerned parties is paramount. A crucial aspect of this communication is the shipping advice, a vital document that keeps importers or buyers informed about the status of their orders. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of a shipping advice and understand its functions, advantages, and disadvantages.

What is a shipping advice?

A shipping advice, also known as a shipping notification or shipping confirmation, is a document used to communicate vital information regarding the movement of goods from one location to another. It is sent by a seller or a shipping carrier to a customer or importer to inform them that their order has been shipped. It contains crucial details related to the shipment, such as the description of the goods, quantity, weight, dimensions, origin, destination, expected delivery date, and any special instructions or requirements. Shipping advice helps buyers track their orders and anticipate when they will receive them. It also serves as a confirmation that the seller has fulfilled their part of the transaction by shipping the goods.

How does a shipping advice work?

A shipping advice operates through a series of coordinated steps involving various parties and the exchange of information. Here's a breakdown of the role and function of a shipping advice in international shipping:

Shipment initiation

The process begins when the shipper or the seller gathers all relevant information about the goods, including their description, quantity, weight, dimensions, and any special handling instructions.

Preparation of shipping advice

The shipper or their logistics provider generates the shipping advice document. It includes necessary details about the shipment, such as origin and destination addresses, transportation mode, carrier or freight forwarder details, expected departure and arrival dates, and any reference numbers or codes associated with the shipment.

Notification to the recipient

Once the shipping advice is prepared, it is sent to the recipient of the goods, typically the buyer or consignee.

Verification and confirmation

The recipient reviews the shipping advice and verifies the accuracy of the information provided. They ensure that the details align with the agreed-upon terms and delivery expectations.

Planning and resource allocation

The recipient uses the information provided in the shipping advice to plan their operations, deciding how to allocate resources like manpower, storage space, and transportation equipment. This step is particularly crucial for optimizing efficiency and minimizing delays.

Tracking and traceability

Both the shipper and the recipient can use the information in the shipping advice to monitor the progress of the shipment, ensuring its timely movement and delivery.

Arrival and delivery

Once the shipment arrives at the destination, the recipient compares the received goods with the information in the shipping advice. If everything is in order, the recipient acknowledges receipt of the goods.

Advantages of shipping advice

Shipping advice offers several benefits that streamline shipping processes and enhance supply chain management. Some key advantages are as follows:

Improved communication

Shipping advice serves as a formal notification, fostering better communication among the shipper, carrier or logistics provider, and the recipient. It ensures all parties are informed about shipment details and expected delivery dates.

Preparation and resource allocation

The shipping advice provides an advance notice to the recipient, giving them time to plan warehouse space, labor, equipment, and other resources for smooth reception and handling of incoming goods. This proactive approach minimizes delays, optimizes operations, and boosts efficiency.

Compliance with contractual obligations

Shipping advice plays a crucial role in ensuring compliance with contractual obligations. In case of disputes or discrepancies, it can be used as a reference to resolve issues and uphold contractual agreements.

Customs clearance facilitation

The shipping advice assists customs authorities in assessing and verifying shipments, which streamlines clearance processes and minimizes delays at borders.

Transport insurance arrangement

The shipping advice allows the importer to arrange transport insurance. For instance, if the shipment is made via sea freight, the importer can utilize the information received from the shipping advice to arrange a marine insurance policy.

Record-keeping and traceability

Shipping advice allows all involved parties to track the progress of goods throughout the supply chain, ensuring transparency, accountability, and efficient inventory management.

Limitations of a shipping advice

While shipping advice offers numerous benefits, it also comes with certain limitations that businesses should consider. These are as follows:

Potential for errors

Despite efforts to ensure accuracy, there is always a risk of errors or omissions in a shipping advice. Typing errors, incorrect quantity information, or missing details can lead to confusion and disruptions in the shipping process.

Limited real-time updates

Usually, a shipping advice is generated and sent before the shipment, meaning it may not capture real-time updates or changes that occur during transit.

Lack of flexibility

Once issued, it may be challenging to make significant changes to the shipping advice document. Any adjustments, such as quantity changes or rerouting, may require additional documentation and coordination, potentially leading to delays or added costs.

Dependence on manual processes

Shipping advice, particularly in traditional paper-based formats, relies on manual processes for preparation, distribution, and verification, creating room for potential delays or human errors.

Incomplete visibility

While a shipping advice provides an overview of the shipment, it may not offer complete visibility into the entire supply chain process. To address this limitation, businesses may need to utilize additional tracking technologies or collaborate with carriers that offer advanced tracking and visibility solutions.

What information should a shipping advice include?

A shipping advice should include all essential details of the shipment, enabling the importer to arrange insurance coverage based solely on the advice provided. The following details should be included in a shipping advice:

• Introduction: The shipping advice should commence with a brief introductory paragraph highlighting the information required by the letter of credit.

• Description of goods: The shipping advice must include a detailed description of the goods in alignment with the description provided on the commercial invoice.

• Invoice value of goods: The advice should mention the total amount displayed on the commercial invoice as this information is important for obtaining insurance coverage.

• Letter of credit number: If the payment term involves a letter of credit, the shipping advice should state the letter of credit number and the date of issue.

• Name of carrier: Regardless of the mode of transport, the shipping advice should specify the name of the carrier involved.

• Name of vessel and voyage number: For sea shipments, the shipping advice should indicate the name of the vessel and the corresponding voyage number. For air shipments, the flight number should be provided, and for land shipments, the plate number should be included.

• Consignee and notify party: The shipping advice should mention the consignee and notify party as indicated on the transport document (e.g., bill of lading, air waybill, CMR transport document).

• Bill of lading number: The bill of lading number allows the importer to track the consignment. For air shipments, the air waybill number should be provided, and for land shipments, the CMR number can be included.

• Container number: The container number should be included. This, along with the bill of lading number, allows concerned parties to track the consignment.

• Shipped on board date: The shipped on board date serves as evidence of the shipment date, which is crucial information for insurance companies, particularly for sea shipments.

• Seal number: For sea shipments, the shipping advice should include the seal number of the container.

• Gross and net weight: The shipping advice should specify the gross and net weight of the consignment.

• Packages: The total number of packages should be indicated, corresponding with the information on the transport document.

• Shipper: Lastly, the shipping advice should include the name of the shipper company as given on the transport document.

In conclusion, shipping advice is crucial for streamlining communication, planning, and execution of shipments in the global trade landscape. By providing comprehensive details about the shipment, it enables timely decision-making, enhances transparency, and minimizes risks.

Indian businesses aiming to broaden their horizons through e-commerce exports must grasp the complexities of shipping documentation to achieve success in global markets. For more support on compliance and documentation, exporters can leverage the tools and services provided by e-commerce export programs like Amazon Global Selling.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a shipping advice note?
A shipping advice is a document issued by the shipper or logistics provider to notify the recipient that their order has been shipped. It contains crucial details related to the shipment, such as the description of the goods, quantity, weight, dimensions, origin, destination, expected delivery date, and any special instructions or requirements.
What is an advice dispatch?
An advice dispatch refers to the act of sending out a shipping advice to the intended recipient. It involves transmitting relevant information about the shipment, such as product details, quantity, and transportation details, to ensure that the recipient is informed in advance.
When should the shipment advice be created and dispatched?
The shipment advice should be created and dispatched as early as possible in the shipping process. It is typically generated before the shipment departs from the origin location, allowing sufficient time for the recipient to receive the advice, make necessary preparations, and coordinate their operations for a smooth delivery process.
Published on March 30, 2024.


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