shipping memo

What is a Shipping Memo?

There are various types of documents when it comes to shipping goods. Typically, when a company sends a consignment they will create a notice that contains the most important information of the shipment. This document is often referred to as a shipping memo. 

A shipping memo is a notice that contains vital shipping information for internal reference and processing. More specifically, it contains details about the requester, receiver, shipping information and the shipping method. 

It’s important to note that a shipping memo is not a Bill of Lading (not to be confused with a Memo Bill of Lading). Therefore, it is not a negotiable instrument or proof of ownership. It’s also not a document to release a shipment or a document used to calculate duties and taxes. 

In this article, we will take a more detailed look at when shipping memos are used, what is typically found on a shipping memo and provide a sample template for reference. 

When Is a Shipping Memo Used?

A shipping memo can take the form of an internal routing slip and is commonly used by organizations as part of an instruction to ship goods. For example, if a school library is returning books to a publisher, the library staff may create a shipping memo, which they will pass to the school’s logistics team.

This shipping memo will state all of the important details they need to be aware of, in order to arrange the shipment with a respective courier or logistics company. They are typically created for each consignment that needs to be shipped.

Shipping memos are also often used between purchasing and logistics teams to book a shipment before the consignment needs to be fulfilled. Shipping memos are commonly used for smaller local or national consignments that are shipped via a courier service. 

What Information is Found on a Shipping Memo?

Shipping memos contain information about the requestor, consignee, shipping details, reason for sending and the descriptions of goods. This information is required so that the logistics department of a company can book and arrange the shipment accordingly. Below is a guide on the most common types of information that is found.

  • Requestor Information: Details of the sender, email, phone number, department, and sender’s name can be seen here. Depending on the party reading the information it may get in touch with the sender just in case the shipment is encountering issues or if further clarification is needed. 
  • Receiver Information: This field contains information about the receiving party. This may include the consignee’s name, address, phone number and email. The logistics company will use this to establish contact for delivery. 
  • Shipping Information: This section would contain what mode of shipment will be used. Options are via air, sea, land, or most commonly a courier. It can also contain the priority of when the items need to be shipped. Billing instructions can also be placed here to determine where freight charges will be billed to. 
  • Reason for Shipping: Certain companies require specific reasons for a shipment as part of an approval process. An order number can be used or a sales agreement/email can be attached to support the shipping memo. 
  • Goods Description: This field specifies the exact number of packages to be shipped, description, weight, and value. This is an important part of the shipping process and the shipped items must be accurately reflected in the shipping memo. It is also used to calculate the freight cost.
  • Signatures: The confirmed approval for the shipment. This is used for traceability and can form part of the audit records or for internal approval processes. 

It’s important to note that companies have different internal policies, which also means that the information on the shipping memo may not always be the same. 

How to Create a Shipping Memo?

Depending on the company, creating shipping memos can be part of a transport management system (TMS) that is routed to the finance and logistics departments for processing. 

However, in most cases a simple word processing program can be used to create a shipping memo. The below template can be used as a basis and customized to different requirements. 

Are Shipping Memos Mandatory?

A Shipping Memo is not a mandatory document, as it’s only meant as an internal instruction. However, some companies require a it as part of an internal process and may also use a shipping memo for an approval process to ship out goods.

Shipping Memo Template and Example

In this shipping memo table you’ll find an example of a shipment from Read Hub Library, who are returning goods to a publisher called Pelican Publishing. 

General Details
Company:Read Hub Library
Shipping Memo Number#0021241
Date6/8/2021
Sender Details
DepartmentLibrary – Front Office
Originator/NameGlenn O’Neill
Email:glenn@readhublibrary.com
Phone Number:213-742-7849
Receiver Details
Department:Returns (Pelican Publishing)
Recipient NameNeil Fuller
Email:neilfuller@pelicanpublishingco.com
Phone Number:213-742-7100
Complete Address:1111 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90015, United States
Shipping Instructions
International: (Air/Sea)Not Applicable
Domestic: (Specify Destination)Los Angeles
CourierDHL
Reason for Shipment (Indicate Purchase Order if applicable)Return order number 38764
Description of the Goods40 x Marketing and Sales (100 kg)
10 x Business Law 101 (20 kg)
Total Value: USD 3,500
Authorized SignaturePrinted Name and Signature

What’s the Difference Between a Shipping Memo and Shipping Instructions?

A shipping memo shouldn’t be confused with a shipping instruction. Although both documents serve as a form of instruction, a shipping memo is an internal document for processing shipments, whereby a shipping instruction is a formal document submitted by shippers to carriers for preparing a bill of lading or sea waybill.