Apart from organizing core supply chain operations, it is critical to take care of the shipping paperwork. Effective documentation management will eliminate probable shipment constraints and let you deliver the goods with no disruptions.
What are the functions of shipping paperwork?
Signing up for the shipping and logistics documents often seems to be an exhausting task. Many business owners avoid leading documentation to focus more on their operational activities. However, shipping paperwork performs weighty functions that can assure an advanced transportation flow.
A pack of shipping documents confirms that your goods have been delivered to the right place at the right time. As a result, you and other supply chain members will receive the funds without problems. Your shipping paperwork is one of the guarantors of your income.
There is always a possibility of damaging the cargo due to various factors that don’t depend on you. Proper documentation fixates the original features of the items before transportation so your customers can verify them after delivery. If something doesn’t add up and there’s a risk of the freight return, your paperwork will quickly help you file an insurance claim.
Arranging your goods in a list and describing them controls the items accounting during logistics processes. It is how the carriers know what exactly they’re moving and how they can speed up possible freight inspections. It’s worth remembering that well-ordered paperwork always makes the supply chain smoother.
Common shipping documents
It is vital to track if all the required documents are in place when preparing for a shipment. Some paperwork is compulsory and standard for any shipment type. Usually, all the participants in the supply chain are well familiar with the documents’ templates, which significantly facilitates transporting operations.
Bill of Lading (BOL)
Bill of Lading represents the main shipping document and carries all information about the transported items. This paperwork plays the role of a contract between the party owning the cargo and the shipper. When filling out the BOL form, you list the shipped goods and provide brief descriptions, including the most crucial data such as cargo size, weight, and dimensions. These details allow you to ensure cargo safety and avoid financial losses in case of freight damage. Bill of Lading states the shipment locations and dates, thus fully outlining the shipping route. Besides, BOL provides evidence of goods value and additional instructions for handling and storage.
A carrier invoice works like a document for calculating the price of services provided by your shipper. The freight bill involves general transportation costs and possible additional charges. Since carriers generate fees based on the cargo weight and size, it is essential to state this information in the invoice and check if it matches your descriptions in the BOL. Commercial invoices typically insert payment guidance and other financial specifications.
The packing list provides extended cargo descriptions compared to the BOL. In this document, you can note all the tiny details of each transported item. Many shippers attach the packing list to every individual crate, so it is easier to verify the contents of a box without unpacking it. In terms of the long transportation, packing lists streamline the cargo identification process. Besides saving time, you’ll also reduce the risks of freight damage during repetitive packing/unpacking operations.
Proof of Delivery (POD)
Although the POD is not mandatory, you can request it if you’re shipping high-value goods. Proof of Delivery often looks like a delivery receipt and confirms the cargo has arrived in good condition with no signs of damage. If cargo accords with the packing list descriptions, and the receiver is satisfied with the items’ state after their delivery, they sign the POD, thus approving your reliability.
Paperwork for international shipments
Since the paperwork regulations are slightly different for international shipping, besides the documents needed for domestic transportation, you’ll have to get extra papers to ship your items overseas. Often, business owners choose to hire a customs broker who can streamline all the international documents questions without interrupting your supply chain management. Customs brokers learn the shipping regulations of the destination country and prepare the appropriate clearance. Still, it is better to know the main types of additional documents for international shipping.
While you can use different transport means to move your goods to other countries, getting the BOL for each transportation mode is essential (inland BOL, ocean BOL, air BOL). Also, include the Certificate of Origin indicating from where your items originate. Some shippers may require a Letter of Instruction describing the responsibilities of every member of the transportation process.
Hazmat shipping documentation
Hazmat shipping is quite challenging to organize, so you need to be extremely precise when getting the necessary documents. They primarily concern safety regulations for transporting hazardous goods and include recommendations for their proper handling. Safety Data Sheet (SDS) involves detailed descriptions of dangerous items and packing, loading/unloading, and shipping requirements. SDS can also help you classify your hazmat materials according to the official rules of hazmat shipping. In addition, you’ll have to obtain the paperwork stating your items’ identification numbers, hazmat classes, packaging types, and other characteristics.
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