Shipping note

From CEOpedia | Management online

A Shipping note is a document prepared when goods are sent to the port of shipment. It contains details of the consignment, the mark and number of packages, the name of the ship, and of the supplier and the port of discharge[1].

Standard shipping note

A standard shipping note (SSN) was introduced in 1975. SITPRO (Simple Trade Procedure Board) published standard shipping note, to give the shipper to standardize documents for all shipment regardless of port or inland depot. Because of that it delivers to the receiving authority the total amount of information at the right time as well as providing all those with an interest in the cargo with adequate information at each stage of its delivery process, until final loading on board [2].

Usage of shipping notes

Standard shipping note is available for usage for the delivery of FLC (Full Container Loaded) and LCL (Less than Container Loaded) to CFS (Container Freight Station) or CB. It's also used for uncontainable items which are sent directly to the terminals. Standard shipping note is being used when delivering goods to British ports, container bases or other freight terminals. It has to be given with the goods that are given to the receiving berth/dock or base of containers. It can be also lodged at the receiving authority's chosen office before goods arrive for shipment. Only cargo designed to shipment to one port of discharge on one sailing or related with one bill can be placed on one shipping note [3]. However, dangerous goods should be shipped with different type of document, Dangerous Goods Note[4].

Informations in standart shipping notes

Standard shipping note contains[5]:

  • name and address of the shipper/exporter;
  • vehicle booking reference, when relevant, as issued by the receiving authority;
  • customer reference;
  • exporter's reference;
  • forwarding agent reference;
  • shipping company's booking reference where issued;
  • details of the company responsible for FOB/receiving authority's export charges;
  • name of a shipping line or combined transport operator;++
  • name and address of forwarding agent or merchant;
  • ship's reviewing date(s);
  • berth and dock/container base etc.;
  • ship's name and port loading.;
  • port of discharge and, for less than container loads, final destination depot;
  • name of receiving authority, e.g. port authority, shipping company, container base, to whom the shipping note is addressed;
  • port scale of charges;
  • marks and numbers of packages in full. Concerning container shipments detail of container owner's marks, serial numbers and seal number to be given;
  • number of kind of packages;
  • description of goods;
  • package dimensions in centimetres;
  • gross weight in metric units for each item;
  • total gross weight;
  • cubic measurement of packages in cubic meters;
  • total cubic measurement;
  • HM Customs free status;
  • pre-entry (bonding or drawback formalities etc.);
  • hazardous or other special stowage cargo:
  • name of company/telephone/fax number;
  • name and status of a person preparing the note;
  • place and date of issue.

Generally, the use of the standard shipping note might be slightly different depending on individual port practices[6].

Examples of Shipping note

  • A shipping note is used when goods are shipped from a supplier to a customer. It contains details such as the consignment number, the number of packages, the name of the ship, and the port of discharge. For example, a shipping note may include information such as "25 boxes of widgets, shipped by the MV Bluebird, to be discharged at the Port of Newcastle".
  • A shipping note may also include additional information such as the weight and volume of the shipment, the value of the goods, and the estimated date of arrival. For example, a shipping note may include information such as "25 boxes of widgets, weighing 1,500 kg and measuring 2.4 m3, valued at $14,000, to be discharged at the Port of Newcastle on June 10th".
  • A shipping note may also include details of any special requirements that need to be met in order for the shipment to be accepted, such as certain types of packing materials or specific documentation. For example, a shipping note may include information such as "25 boxes of widgets, packed in wooden crates, with all necessary documentation for customs clearance, to be discharged at the Port of Newcastle on June 10th".

Advantages of Shipping note

Shipping notes have many advantages. They are an important aid in tracking shipments, providing useful information such as the origin and destination of the goods, the type and quantity of goods being shipped, the name of the transporting vessel, and the estimated time of arrival. They can also help to protect the interests of the parties involved, as they provide evidence of the transfer of ownership of the goods and the payment of the corresponding invoice. In addition, shipping notes can be used to update customs documentation, as well as to facilitate the clearance of goods at customs.

  • Shipping notes provide transparency and accountability, making it easier to track the movement of goods and ensure their safe delivery.
  • They also serve as a record of the shipment, providing evidence of the transfer of goods in case of any disputes.
  • Shipping notes are also used to support customs declarations and invoices, providing additional details such as the Harmonized System Codes, package weight and dimensions, and the type of packaging used.
  • In some cases, a shipping note can also provide additional information that cannot be included on a customs declaration, such as a detailed description of the goods.

Limitations of Shipping note

A shipping note is a useful document for tracking goods sent to a port of shipment, but it has some limitations. These include:

  • It does not provide full details of the goods, such as measurements, descriptions, or weights, which would be necessary to clear customs.
  • It does not give details of any third-party involvement in the shipment process, such as freight companies or customs brokers.
  • It does not provide tracking information on the goods after they have been shipped.
  • It does not provide details of the delivery destination and any associated costs.
  • It is not always accepted by customs authorities in all countries.

Other approaches related to Shipping note

A Shipping note is a document that details the consignment, mark, number of packages, ship, supplier, and port of discharge. However, there are also other approaches related to Shipping note that should be taken into consideration when managing goods:

  • Shipping instructions: These instructions are usually provided by the customer and provide a more detailed overview of the shipment, such as the type of goods and the route to be taken.
  • Shipping contracts: These contracts outline the terms and conditions of the shipment, including the fees, the rights of the parties involved, the payment procedures, and the type of goods that will be shipped.
  • Export documentation: This documentation ensures that goods are shipped in accordance with the laws and regulations of the country of origin. It includes documents such as licenses, import/export declarations, and customs forms.
  • Manifest: This document states the details of the shipment and is required by the ports of destination and transit.

In conclusion, Shipping note is an important document that provides important information about the consignment, ship, supplier, and port of discharge. However, there are other approaches related to Shipping note that must be taken into consideration when managing goods such as shipping instructions, shipping contracts, export documentation, and manifest.


  1. Benson D., Whitehead G. 2013
  2. Brodie P. 2013
  3. Branch A. E. 2012
  4. Brodie P. 2013
  5. Branch A. E. 2012
  6. Branch A. E. 2012

Shipping noterecommended articles
WaybillDispatch noteBill of ladingExport declarationShipping termsOcean bill of ladingCargo manifestUltimate consigneeMaster bill of lading


Author: Michał Dembowski