Essential LCL Documentation For Shippers and Freight Forwarders

June 20, 2024
Ram Radhakrishnan
Founder & CEO


LCL documentation is an essential part of the process. Find out what documentation are necessary and why they are important for every LCL shipment

Essential LCL Documentation For Shippers and Freight Forwarders

Because of its nature, LCL shipping attracts multiple interests – from the different shippers involved to the freight forwarders, carriers, and customs authorities. There is always extra attention, which makes LCL documentation very important.

Unlike air freight, which is often used for time-sensitive shipments but comes with higher costs and a larger carbon footprint, LCL shipping offers a more economical and environmentally friendly option for shippers.

The additional scrutiny cannot be avoided. However, it doesn’t have to impact the shipping process. This is why it is important to partner with a freight forwarder who is well-versed in international shipping, including LCL and FCL shipment, to ensure every document is accounted for and on time. Beyond the scrutiny, documentation is critical because it plays a pivotal role in communicating with the customs authorities. It details the origin, product, and any other information the authorities may find useful, making accurate documentation a necessity.

To be successful with the LCL shipment documentation, there are documents that must be accounted for, and in this article, we will review the five of them.

Why is Documentation Important?

Communication is great and a non-negotiable in LCL and FCL shipping. However, in LCL freight operations documentation does most of the communication for shippers, carriers, and all other stakeholders. It can also go beyond explaining the shipments to the customs authority to streamlining operations and ensuring the following:

Seamless Customs Clearance at Container Freight Station

When the documentation is complete, it helps avoid too much scrutiny, except in cases where the authorities really have a reason to be suspicious. Accurate documentation means fewer questions and delays because everything the authorities need to clear the less-than-container load ( LCL) shipments will be contained in that documentation.

Minimize Risks

Risks can result from damages due to improper placements of cargo in the shipping container, loss of shipments while in transit, or detention because of a lack of necessary information. All of these will be a non-issue when there is proper or accurate documentation of the LCL cargo.

Tracking and Protection

Documentation ensures that all parties involved in the LCL shipping are protected -- from the buyer to the seller, freight forwarders, and carriers. The documentation will typically contain transaction details such as product type, value, and payment date.

On the other hand, proper documentation guarantees effective shipment tracking and transparency for all parties. This will particularly come in handy when there are issues, such as missing shipments.

Five Must-Have Documentation For LCL Shipments

Essential LCL Documentation For Shippers and Freight Forwarders

The LCL logistics documentation will play a critical role in the success of the logistics operation. Having all the requirements is necessary. However, knowing what documentation to have or present for the shipping process can be challenging.

Here are the seven must-haves documentation in LCL shipping:

1. Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a document that contains information about the transaction that necessitated the product being shipped.

It includes information on the buyer and seller, such as names, addresses, and contact details. Beyond the information of the parties involved in the transaction, it also contains the invoice number, product description, the quantity of the goods, the total value of the shipment, and the unit price. The commercial invoice was designed for easy traceability of the product or cargo being shipped down to its source. All the information on the commercial invoice is supposed to ensure this.

2. Packing List

The packing list is documentation that focuses on the entire LCL shipment to determine what is in any container used for the LCL shipping. The freight forwarders usually draw up this document because they consolidate the LCL shipments. It is another reason partnering with the right freight forwarder is critical for a successful LCL shipping operation. The packing list contains the number of products in the entire container space, the dimensions and weight of each product, and an in-depth description of each product in the container.

There must be no discrepancies between the information provided on the packing list and that of the commercial invoice. The same rule applies throughout the documentation process.

3. Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is the most important piece of documentation for the LCL shipment. Popularly known as the sea waybill, it acts as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. In most cases, this contract is facilitated by the freight forwarding business or freight forwarder. The bill of lading will always contain the BOL number (an alphanumeric key), the shipper and the consignee information, the ports of origin or container freight station, and the destination.

Like the commercial invoices, it will also describe the goods in the LCL freight container, the number of products, and the weight. Finally, it should also contain the freight charges.

4. Export/Import Customs Declaration

This is another very critical document, and it is solely for the customs authorities on both sides of the shipping operation. Importers and exporters have to present it because it provides crucial details about the shipment for customs clearance, including the description of the goods (with HS codes). The customs declaration will also contain information about the value of the shipment, the country of origin, and the intended use of the goods, whether commercial or personal.

5. Certificate of Origin

This document helps the customs authorities verify the product's country of origin or where it was manufactured. The information is often optional, and its requirement depends on the destination country. It also depends on the trade agreements.

The Benefits of a Reliable LCL Shipping: A Short Story

Mansol Furniture was beginning to think about selling their goods abroad, but they were not sure of the requirements and how to go about it. However, the company executives, being quite familiar with Silq, decided to work with them.

Silq is a freight forwarding platform that manages full-container load (FCL) shipment and less-than-container load (LCL) shipping solution. In this case, Mansol Furniture wanted a freight forwarder that could help manage all shipping modes and ensure their goods got to the right destination on time without much hassle.

While air freight could have been an option for Mansol Furniture, they chose LCL shipping to reduce costs and minimize their carbon footprint.

For Silq to ensure seamless trade for Mansol Furniture, it knew that documentation was a necessary part of the process and proceeded to ensure that the company had all the documents needed to make it work. From the commercial invoice to the packing list, bill of lading, and the other documents mentioned in the article, Silq ensured all documentation was available, accurate, and in the right order.

After much planning, Mansol Furniture had its first of many LCL cargo via ocean shipping, and it was a huge success with minimal hassle from customs authorities in the countries of origin and destination.

Less Than Container Load Logistics Documentation With Silq

Silq is the freight forwarding platform specializing in transporting smaller shipments worldwide, especially through air and ocean freight. While Silq also handles air freight, LCL shipping is often preferred for its cost-effectiveness and lower environmental impact. At Silq, we cover every step of the LCL cargo and shipping process. From factory inspection to the consolidation of the shipments and then overseeing the loading and transportation of the goods to the desired country or destination. So many happy clients with impressive reviews. You can be one of them. Get started now.

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