Transportation security is becoming an increasing concern, with thousands of export and import containers clearing customs each day, around the clock. There is also an increased need for improved cargo monitoring and manifest submission. 

Government regulatory agencies such as customs and border protection, actively monitor the inflow and outflow of cargo and are also tasked to assess every shipment to vet legitimate from illegal and contraband cargo. 

A Security Manifest Document (SMD) is a type of advance manifest that is submitted from ocean carriers to customs authorities in countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico and various others. 

Security manifest documents enable customs authorities to receive inbound cargo information beforehand. This allows them to assess the cargo and shipment before the vessel arrives, so that they can take any type of preemptive measures if required. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring more information about security manifest documents. We will touch upon details such as who submits it, how much the documentation fee is and how these types of fees are announced.  

Who Submits a Security Manifest Document?

The party that is typically required to submit the security manifest document to the customs clearance department of the import country is the carrier, which is the shipping line or the freight forwarder. 

In most countries, advanced manifests or any other type of cargo declarations are submitted electronically through a portal or through an interface. Certain countries are required to have the manifest submitted by the carrier even before the vessel departs. 

As carriers often rely on third party information, such as cargo details and certain shipping information, they are only responsible to aggregate and submit this data through the security manifest document. The liability of the accuracy of data, as well as the actual cargo typically remains with the shipper. 

What Happens When the Security Manifest Document Contains Incorrect Information

Generally speaking, most customs departments impose fines for failing to submit accurate information or failing to submit a security manifest document on time. Repeat offenders are typically given a more severe penalty and may even be blacklisted and barred from importing. 

Other precautionary actions may also include instructing the shipping line not to load the respective containers onto the vessel or having the container to be offloaded at the nearest transshipment port, if the shipment is already in transit. 

What Information Is Found on a Security Manifest Document?

A security manifest document contains important shipment and cargo information that helps the destination customs department to access the cargo and shipment. The following data points are generally mentioned in this document:

  • Shipper 
  • Consignee 
  • Carrier
  • Vessel 
  • Voyage
  • Cargo 
  • Estimated Arrival 
  • Estimated Departure 

What Is a Security Manifest Documentation Fee?

A Security Manifest Documentation Fee is an accessorial charge imposed by carriers when being tasked to submit this document to the customs department at the destination. 

This fee covers documentation monitoring, maintenance, and other administrative functions that a carrier is required to carry out. These costs are then passed on to the shippers and these fees are invoiced as part of the origin documentation charges. They’re typically labeled as Security Manifest Documentation Fee or Manifest Submission Fee.

How Much Is the Security Manifest Documentation Fee?

Carriers charge about $20 to $40 per document submission to the shipper. Generally speaking, one security document submission is required for each shipment. 

For example, a shipment with three containers would typically require one security manifest document submission. Three shipments with one container each would require three separate submissions and would therefore be charged three times. 

When working with freight forwarders, the rates may vary as the shipping line charges the freight forwarder and the freight forwarders charge it to the shipper. This means that freight forwarders may add a markup. 

How Are Security Manifest Documentation Fees Announced?

Like any other carrier related charges, Security Manifest Documentation Fees are typically announced through email, the carrier’s website or as part of a quotation. Security Manifest Documentation Fees differ between carriers and also between destinations. 

A useful tip is to have a carrier present a full breakdown of all costs associated with a shipment. It’s also important to understand all of the requirements of the destination country, before shipping cargo and to find out what information is required for submitting a security manifest. 

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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.