shipment advice

Shipment Advice: What It Is & What Purpose It Serves

There are many types of shipping documents used in international trade. Some of these documents include bills of lading, commercial invoices, arrival notices, packing lists, and certificates of origin.

Each document has a specific purpose and is required by different parties involved in the transaction, such as shippers, consignees, customs officials, and insurers.

A common document used for sea freight shipments is shipment advice, also known as shipping advice or advice of shipment. A shipment advice serves as an alert or notice to the consignee that the cargo has been shipped and also includes important information about the shipment.

This document is also commonly used by importers to prepare for import clearance and cargo receiving. The document includes the dates of departure and arrival, the ports of departure and arrival, and several other important shipment details.  

What Information Can Be Found on A Shipment Advice?

As mentioned above, a shipping advice contains various details related to a shipment. We’ve highlighted and explained each detail below.

  • Document Details – Every shipping advice has details related to the document itself, including the document number and date of shipment. You can typically find these details at the top of the shipment advice.
  • Advice Details – A shipment advice begins with a summary of key information related to the shipment. It usually also contains a section that addresses the consignee and confirmed that the cargo has been shipped on board on a specified date.
  • Cargo Details – Cargo details describe the goods being transported from the port of departure to the port of discharge.
  • Shipment Value – The shipment value of the shipment would match the value on the commercial invoice. This value is also found on the bill of exchange invoiced to the importer. 
  • Letter of Credit Details (Optional) – Some shipment advice documents contain Letter of Credit details like the document number and the date of issue. 
  • Vessel Details – Vessel details on a shipment advice usually include only the name of the vessel. Importers can access other details related to the vessel with a quick vessel database search on ship registers or tracking websites. 
  • Voyage Details – Voyage details are voyage numbers that can be used to track the vessel and shipment during transit. 
  • Bill of Lading Number – This number refers to the bill of lading (or a sea waybill), which is a contract of carriage between the shipper and the consignee.
  • Container Details – Container details usually include the container number and the number of containers. Containers numbers container four letters and seven numbers.
  • Freight Details – Freight details include the shipment’s gross and net weight, and the number of pallets or packages. 
  • Port Details – Port details include the port of loading where the cargo was loaded and the port of arrival where the cargo will be discharged. 
  • Consignee Details – Consignee details include the name, contact, address, and bank information of the consignee (typically the importer). 
  • Consignor Details – Consignor details include the name, contact, and address of the shipper (typically the exporter). 
  • Signature & Stamp – A shipment advice also includes a signature and stamp from the shipper which serves as a legal record of the transaction between the two parties. 

Who Issues A Shipment Advice?

A shipment advice is generated by the exporter or shipper. They typically generate the document once they have the shipping details and the cargo has departed the port of discharge. In most cases, a shipment advice can take up to four business days from the “Shipped on Board Date” to be generated.

To Whom Is a Shipment Advice Sent?

A shipment advice is addressed and sent to the consignee, who is typically the importer/receiver of the shipment. The receiving party requires this document along with the shipment invoice and bill of lading for import clearance. 

What Purpose Does It Have?

An advice of shipment serves several purposes, mainly for the cargo receiver. We’ll explain the core applications or functions of this shipping document:

  • Notice That Goods Have Been Shipped – The most basic function of a shipment advice is to notify the importer or receiver that their cargo has been shipped on board and will arrive on the date mentioned in it. With this information, the receiver can proactively arrange transportation, storage, and other essential tasks. 
  • Allows Importer to Prepare for Import Clearance –  Secondly, a shipment advice allows importers to initiate custom clearance processes by preparing the necessary paperwork and coordinating import clearance through an appointed freight forwarder or agent.
  • Shows the Letter of Credit Details – Finally, many shipment advice documents show the Letter of Credit details, which serves as a payment guarantee. This ensures that the seller will receive the payment for the imported goods.

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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.