Behind the globalized world of commerce and international freight lies a complex web of shipping documentation to ensure the proper handover of goods, compliance with customs regulations, and the protection of supply chain stakeholders involved. One of these documents is a Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt.

A Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt (FCR), sometimes called a Forwarder’s Certificate of Receipt, is a shipping document issued by freight forwarders to shippers and acts as a certificate of cargo receipt.

After an FCR has been issued to the shipper (often a supplier or manufacturer of the consignee) the cargo is now in possession of the exporter of record (EOR). The shipper is officially absolved of any cargo responsibility or liability from this point onwards.

Applications of Forwarder’s Cargo Receipts

FCRs are typically issued by freight forwarders for sea and air freight shipments, particularly when cargo is delivered to a container freight station (CFS) where it is received, stored, consolidated, and shipped.

One common reason why Forwarder’s Cargo Receipts are used in CFS operations is to acknowledge the ownership transfer of goods from the shipper to the freight forwarder (often the consolidator).

This also means that the exporter on record is no longer the supplier, but rather the freight forwarder or the consignee, which means that the freight forwarder does not need to issue a House Bill of Lading (HBL) to each supplier, but only to the shipper/exporter. Instead, each supplier will receive an FCR.

What Information Does an FCR Show?

A Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt contains information about the involved parties, goods, and shipment. Below, you’ll find a list with further explanations.

  • Shipper – The name of the exporter. The exporter on record is typically the consolidator, freight forwarder, or consignee after an FCR has been issued.
  • Consignee – The name of the importer on record. This is the company that the goods are consigned to.  
  • Marks & Numbers – The unique identification labels, symbols, or marks identifying a specific shipment from others. 
  • Number of Packages – The type of packaging and exact quantity of the items to be shipped (example: 15 cartons).
  • Description of Goods – A short summary of the items to be shipped. Information such as product name, specifications, or other relevant descriptions of the items. 
  • Gross Weight – The total weight of the entire cargo including the packaging. This is often indicated in kgs.
  • Measurements – The actual measurement of cargo expressed in cubic meters (CBM). 
  • Place of Issue – The place where the FCR document was issued by the freight forwarder. This is usually where the origin of CFS is located.
  • Date of Issue – The specific date when the FCR document was issued.
  • Company Stamp & Signature – Formal confirmation authenticating the FCR document issued by the freight forwarder is accurate, authentic, and in good order. 

FCR vs Sea Waybill or Bill of Lading

A Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt is often confused with a Sea Waybill or Bill of Lading, as they contain similar information. However, they are different in many aspects and should not be used interchangeably. Below, you’ll find the three main differences between an FCR document and a sea waybill. 

  • Function – An issued FCR document proves that a freight forwarder has taken possession of the cargo. Therefore, it’s not a transport document, but rather a document certifying receipt and handover of cargo. A Sea Waybill or Bill of Lading serves as a contract of carriage with binding terms and conditions between the shipper and freight forwarder. 
  • Negotiability – An FCR is not a negotiable document. It only serves as formal proof that the freight forwarder has received the shipment. A Bill of Lading on the other hand is a document of title and is issued once the original bills of lading have been surrendered. A sea waybill facilitates faster cargo release at the destination. 
  • Liability – A Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt only details the goods that have been transferred to the freight forwarder and that the supplier has relinquished responsibility and liability. A Bill of Lading is a contract of carriage, whereby the carrier carrier is liable for loss and damage of cargo.

Case Study

Reliant Electronics, a distributor in Los Angeles, California, imports a wide variety of electronics from several suppliers in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. These products include smartphones, headphones, televisions, radios, and other electronic accessories.

They have appointed a global freight forwarder called Globalis to consolidate cargo from various suppliers in Vietnam in a container freight station (CFS). Each supplier transports their cargo to the CFS and receives an FCR from the freight forwarder, acknowledging the receipt of cargo.

Reliant Electronics has requested that they will be the shipper (and the exporter on record). Globalis will then consolidate the goods from various suppliers into a single container.

Once the container has been shipped, they will issue a single House Bill of Lading to Reliant Electronics, instead of each supplier (as they were already issued with a Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt).

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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.