In the world of shipping, it’s important that all cargo and documentation gets processed timely, as it can otherwise lead to delays and increased costs. One important document to facilitate this at the destination is the Arrival Notice, also known as a Cargo Arrival Notice. 

An Arrival Notice is a shipping document that is issued by a carrier, indicating that a shipment has arrived or is going to arrive at a specified location. Its main function is to serve as a notice to relevant parties such as customs brokers, truckers and consignees to prepare for the destination activities in advance. 

While carriers tend to send arrival notices about 3 to 5 days before arrival, there are certain carriers who only send an arrival notice on the day the cargo has arrived. There are different industry practices so it’s important to check the guidelines with your respective carriers. 

Arrive Notices are common in both air freight and sea freight transport modes and are sent by most cargo airlines and ocean carriers. In this article, we’ll be discussing the most essential parts of an arrival notice and how it contributes to the overall shipment planning process. 

What Information Can Be Found on an Arrival Notice?

As the destination activities usually involve multiple stakeholders, such as customs brokers, freight forwarders, truckers and consignees, the arrival notice contains all relevant information about a shipment. 

Here is what you’ll typically find on an arrival notice. 

  • Shipper Details – Name, address and contact details of the exporter. The exporter is most commonly also the seller.
  • Consignee Details – Name, address and contact particulars of the importer or the buyer. 
  • Notify Party Details – An alternative contact of the consignee. It can also be the customs broker or freight forwarder, who the consignee appoints. This field also contains the name, address and contact details of the notify party. 
  • BL, SWB or AWB Number – A unique identification number of the contract of carriage (bill of lading, sea waybill or air waybill). This number is usually assigned by the carrier. 
  • Vessel/Flight Information – The name of the vessel or aircraft transporting the cargo, as well as the voyage or flight number. 
  • Cargo Information – A general description of the type and quantity of the goods as declared by the shipper.
  • Container or ULD Number – The container number used in transporting the goods for sea freight shipments or the ULD number for air freight shipments. 
  • Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) – The date the cargo is projected to arrive at the port of discharge or destination airport.
  • Actual Time of Arrival (ATA) – The actual time the vessel has berthed at the port of discharge or actual arrival of the aircraft at the destination airport. 
  • Port of Loading / Origin Airport – The origin port or origin airport, where the cargo was loaded.
  • Port of Discharge / Destination Airport – The destination port or destination airport, where the cargo will be unloaded. 
  • Place of Receipt – The place where the carrier accepted the goods. This location may be the same as the port of loading or origin airport. 
  • Place of Delivery – The final destination that the shipment is consigned to. This is usually the destination port, destination airport or the final delivery location at the consignee’s facility. 
  • Cargo Pickup Location – The place where the goods can be picked up after import customs clearance has been completed. This is usually the container terminal for sea freight shipments or the airport terminal for air freight shipments.  
  • Freight Terms – The freight terms or incoterms that were agreed between the shipper and consignee. This will usually indicate if terms are freight collect or freight prepaid.  
  • Freight Charges – The amount due to the carrier for the air or sea freight transportation. 

Take note that there is no official template for arrival notices. This means that the actual information you receive from your carrier may differ from this list. However, this list contains the most common information in an arrival notice. 

Where is the Arrival Notice Sent to?

Both carriers and freight forwarders issue arrival notices. If the carrier is a freight forwarder, the arrival notice goes from the carrier to the freight forwarder and from the freight forwarder to the recipients.

If you’re dealing directly with a shipping line, the shipping line will issue an arrival notice directly to the recipients. In most cases, the arrival notice is sent to the consignee and the notify party. 

The consignee nominates one or more of their vendors in the notify party column, so that they can start the destination processes once the arrival notice is received. These vendors are mostly customs brokers, truckers or freight forwarders. 

Why Is the Arrival Notice Important?

The arrival notice is an important shipping document because it signifies that cargo has arrived or is going to arrive. This allows the consignee’s vendors to destination activities such as custom clearance and container pickup. 

The Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) on a bill of lading or the track-and-trace system may not always be accurate. Vessels may be delayed due to weather, port congestion, or other factors influencing arrival of the cargo. 

Therefore, the arrival notice is an important document, as it’s used as a more accurate notification of a shipment’s arrival at the port of discharge or destination airport. Here are most specific reasons, why the arrival notice is important:


  • It alerts the consignee of a more accurate time of arrival, so that they can plan for cargo receiving. 
  • They are also able to plan for resourcing and ready equipment accordingly
  • It allows them to inform their customers of the arrival of the goods and when they can expect delivery (If they are not the end customer)
  • They can allocate and plan to start the payment processes for destination charges 

Customs Brokers

  • It allows the customs broker to file the import entry and submit the needed permits to satisfy local regulations. 
  • This can save time, as the entire processes may take a few days 


  • It prepares the trucker to allocate a driver, prime mover and trailer in advance. 
  • They can plan to deliver the shipment in coordination with the receiving schedule of the consignee.

How is a Arrival Notice Sent?

There is no standard template on how an arrival notice should look like and not all carriers use the same format. While the individual details may differ, they largely contain the same type of information. 

The most important aspect is that your carrier sends an arrival notice to all respective parties. Larger airlines, shipping lines and freight forwarders tend to use system-based arrival notices that automatically trigger from their transport management system (TMS). 

Smaller airlines, shipping lines or freight forwarders may use a manual way of sending arrival notice through a templated document. 

Is An Arrival Notice Mandatory?

While arrival notices are not a mandatory requirement like other shipping documents, air and sea carriers are encouraged to do so, as it can save all parties at the destination time and money.  

Arrival Notice Template & Sample

Below you’ll find an arrival notice template for reference. It contains sample information to better help you understand what it looks like. 

Contact Details

AgentsUSA Logistics 88 LLC
PICMartin Santos

Shipment Details

Shipper Name & AddressSpartan Sports Inc. / 130 Meilong Road, Shanghai, China 200237
Consignee Name & AddressPacific Metro Sports / 1873 Middleton Los Angeles, California
Notify Part & AddressCustom Freight Brokers Inc. 321 S. Hanover St. Santa Clara, California
MBL/HBL NumberKKLU6987349 / SINUSA14419020
Vessel/Flight Information – OOCL California 087E
Cargo Information (description, quantity etc.) 146 Packages Various sports equipment
Place of ReceiptShanghai, China
Port of LoadingShanghai, China
Port of DischargePort of Los Angeles
ETAOctober 5,2021 2300H
ATAOctober 6, 2021 0400H
Freight ChargesPayment as arranged
Container NumberOOLU8927392
Weight7,487 KGS
Demurrage / Detention15 days combined

Get Free Course Access

If you enjoyed the article, don’t miss out on our free supply chain courses that help you stay ahead in your industry.

Gerrit Poel

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Gerrit is a certified international supply chain management professional with 16 years of industry experience, having worked for one of the largest global freight forwarders.

As the co-founder of freightcourse, he’s committed to his passion for serving as a source of education and information on various supply chain topics.