There are many documents involved in international trade, and only by ensuring the accuracy of these documents can your goods be successfully delivered to you. Manifest, as one of the documents, plays a very important role. After reading the following article, you will have a clear understanding of the manifests.

What is a shipping manifest?

Sea manifest, also known as customs manifest, is a paper or electronic list that accurately reflects the basic information of the goods carried on board. As an important international trade document, you must send it to customs. After the customs audit and approve, you can arrange the subsequent customs clearance of the goods. 

Shipping manifest contents

The contents of the sea manifests mainly include the following items:

  • Port of departure, port of destination, place of destination, expected date of arrival
  • Master BL No, vessel name, IMO, voyage number, etc.
  • Container number/type/seal number
  • Cargo description (No.&PKG Type, weight, CBM, Mark, etc)
  • Shipper and Consignee information (name, address and telephone number)

What are the common types of manifests?

Sea manifests include many elements and types. Cargo manifest is the most common type. If you are importing general cargo, shipping companies usually arrange this type of manifest. It mainly shows the properties of all cargo on board and shipping routes clearly.

Cargo manifest

cargo manifest
click to enlarge

If your cargo is dangerous goods, such as toxic or corrosive chemicals, explosive materials, etc., then your DG cargo manifest must also include details such as the correct classification of dangerous goods, the IMDG Code, and the MFAG.

If your cargo is temperature sensitive, such as food, medicine, etc., then your reefer manifest must also list the temperature, humidity, and allowable temperature variation.

But no matter what type of manifest, accuracy is always the key. The details of the goods must be clearly listed, and some matters needing special attention must also be clear.

Freight manifest

In addition to the cargo manifest mentioned above, the freight manifest is another type. It not only lists the contents of the cargo manifest, but also includes the charges for each shipment on board. This facilitates the collection of shipping costs from the consignor or consignee.

Furthermore, depending on whether the manifest is for import or export, we can also divide it into two parts.

  • Inward manifest, also known as clean manifest, is your freight forwarder to the importing country customs for import clearance. Inward manifest is made according to the bill of lading. It is subject to the contents of the bill of lading.
  • Outward manifest, also known as pre-manifest, is a document that reflects the expected loading of goods on the exporting vessel. Forwarders can only declare the export of goods after the pre-manifest is sent to the exporting country’s customs. Customs will handle the export clearance only after checking and verifying that there are no errors.

How do shipping manifests work?

Here I will take imports from Ningbo, China to New York, USA as an example, to explain the steps of sending a manifest.

  • Step1: According to the customer’s booking, the shipping company prepares the pre-manifest and transmits it to Ningbo Customs.
  • Step2: After the goods arrive at the customs supervision place (container yard, warehouse, port, etc.), the supervision place will send the arrival report to Ningbo Customs, reflecting the actual arrival information of goods.
  • Step3: Customs check the information of the bill of entry and pre-manifest, and arrange the clearance procedures after there is no error. The goods are released with the pre-manifest.
  • Step4: The shipping company sends the clean manifest to the New York Customs before the specified time, and then you can load your cargo after passing.

When should you submit the manifest?

The time for submission of sea manifests varies from country to country.

In the United States, since the events of September 11, U.S. Customs has required that any ship sailing to the United States should submit a manifest to the AMS system, and get a receipt within 24 hours before loading at the port of departure. This is called AMS filing. The result will be available within 5-10 minutes. As long as the information is complete, it will show OK. You cannot ship goods without an OK.

CBP will impose penalties on you if you violate the 24-hour rule. You may face problems such as manifest rejection, fines, etc. Therefore, shipping companies or forwarders will ask you to submit the documents for AMS filing in advance. Even if the information is incorrect or missing, you will have time to make corrections and additions.

What if there is a mistake in the manifest?

After the manifest is locked (usually 72 hours after the ship leaves the port), the manifest corrector is the only way to change your manifest. Your agents of the port of destination will submit it to the local customs.

Note that the rules regarding manifest correctors are not universally applicable. Customs around the world are usually very strict about it. In addition to paying a correction fee, if the modified contents involve HS code, quantity, type, price, and other information affecting the duties, the customs may reject your application.

However, if you work with an experienced freight forwarder, he can help you check the manifest and other important documents, thus reducing some unnecessary troubles.

Jingsourcing has reliable freight forwarders to help you submit manifests.

Difference between manifest, B/L and packing list

Shipping manifest vs B/L

You may always confuse manifest and bill of lading. In fact, they are totally different.

When it comes to customs clearance, the manifest is an important document. Customs will only accept the declaration after receiving your manifest.

Your forwarder will send the bill of lading to the supplier after having received the goods. Then the supplier will transmit it to the buyer when he has received the order payment. As soon as the goods arrive at the port, the buyer can collect them with the bill of lading. In short, the one holding the bill of lading is the owner of the goods.

In addition, for the same goods, the number of bills of lading and manifests can be different. There can only be one bill of lading for one shipment, but the number of manifests is made according to the times of customs clearance. For example, there is a container of goods under the bill of lading number 141XXXXXXXX, but if you want to separate the goods into two parts for customs clearance, the number of manifests is two.

Shipping manifest vs packing list

The packing list shows the packaging details of the goods. It includes the packing way, packing material, the number and information about the goods, etc. The packing list is not only one of the necessary documents for customs declaration, it is usually sent directly to the buyer in duplicate so that he can inspect the goods.

The manifest mainly lists the cargo information and is an important document issued by the shipping company or agent to customs.

The End

If you have any questions about the above content, please leave comments below.

We are Jingsourcing, a sourcing agency in China. We assist you in sourcing goods from China. We have long cooperative freight forwarders to help you transfer important documents such as manifests. If you have any needs, just CONTACT US.

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