Container Numbers

Shipping Manifest

What is a Shipping Manifest?

A shipping manifest is a document that provides a comprehensive list of the items loaded onto a vessel for transport. It serves as a legal record of the ship’s cargo and is used for customs clearance, port operations, and tracking shipments throughout the transportation process. The manifest ensures accuracy, accountability, and transparency in cargo handling and helps facilitate efficient and secure maritime trade.

What Type of Information is Included in the Shipping Manifest?

A shipping manifest typically includes the following types of information:

  • Ship details: information about the vessel, including its name, registration number, flag, and owner/operator
  • Voyage details: details about the voyage, such as the departure and arrival ports, estimated time of arrival, and voyage number
  • Cargo details: a comprehensive list of all cargo items being transported, including descriptions, quantities, weights, dimensions, and packaging types. This may also include hazardous materials classification, if applicable
  • Container details: information about shipping containers, including container numbers, sizes, types, and seals
  • Shipper information: details about the party or parties responsible for shipping the cargo, including names, addresses, contact information, and any relevant identifiers (such as tax ID numbers)
  • Consignee information: details about the party or parties to whom the cargo is being shipped, including names, addresses, contact information, and any relevant identifiers
  • Bill of Lading number: the unique identifier associated with the BoL document for each shipment
  • Booking reference: the reference number associated with booking cargo space on the vessel
  • Container seal numbers: numbers associated with seals placed on shipping containers to secure them during transit
  • Special instructions: any special handling instructions or requirements for specific cargo items, such as temperature control or fragile handling
  • Customs information: details required for customs clearance, including item values, country of origin, and any applicable customs codes or tariffs
  • Other relevant information: any additional information deemed necessary for the safe and efficient transport of the cargo, such as routing instructions or regulatory compliance details
Figure 1: Example of a sea cargo shipping manifest

What is the Difference Between a Shipping Manifest and a Bill of Lading?

Shipping manifests and bills of lading (BoL) are often confused, as they both pertain to the documentation and management of cargo shipments in the shipping industry, and contain similar information. They serve distinct purposes and have different legal implications.

AspectShipping ManifestBill of Lading (BoL)
DefinitionA detailed document listing all cargo on a vessel.A legal document acknowledging receipt of cargo and specifying terms of transport.
PurposeProvides cargo inventory for logistics purposes.Serves as a contract of carriage and title document for the cargo.
ContentIncludes descriptions, quantities, and packaging details of cargo. May also include shipper, consignee, and vessel details.Contains details about the cargo, shipper, consignee, vessel, voyage, and terms of transport.
Legal StatusNot a legal document, but serves as a record for logistics purposes.Legally binding document between the shipper, carrier, and consignee.
Ownership TransferDoes not transfer ownership of the cargo.Ownership of the cargo can be transferred, depending on the terms of the contract.
IssuancePrepared by the carrier or shipping agent.Typically issued by the shipper or its agent.
FunctionalityUsed for logistics management, customs clearance, and cargo tracking.Used for contractual and legal purposes, including title transfer and customs clearance.
Number of CopiesOften includes multiple copies for various stakeholders.Usually issued in sets of three originals. One for the shipper, one for the carrier, and one for the consignee.

What is Shipping Manifest Tracking?

Shipping manifest tracking refers to the process of monitoring and tracing cargo shipments using information derived from the shipping manifest. This typically involves tracking the movement of goods from the port of origin to the port of destination, utilizing data recorded in the shipping manifest, such as item descriptions, quantities, and shipping details. 

By analyzing this information, logistics professionals can effectively monitor the progress of shipments, identify potential delays or issues, and ensure that cargo reaches its destination in a timely and efficient manner.

A Fictional Example of a Shipping Manifest

Ship Information:

  • Vessel Name: MV Oceanic Explorer
  • Vessel IMO Number: 1234567
  • Departure Port: Port of Los Angeles, USA
  • Arrival Port: Port of Singapore, Singapore
  • Date of Departure: April 14, 2024
  • Estimated Date of Arrival: April 28, 2024

Consignor (Sender) Details:

  • Name: Acme Electronics
  • Address: 1234 Trade Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Contact: John Doe, Phone: +1 310 555 1212

Consignee (Receiver) Details:

  • Name: Global Tech Supplies
  • Address: 56 Import Lane, Singapore
  • Contact: Jane Smith, Phone: +65 1234 5678

Agent/Broker Details:

  • Name: Reliable Shipping Agents
  • Address: 1000 Shipping St, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Contact: Mike Chan, Phone: +1 310 555 5678

Cargo Details:

1. Item Number: 001

  • Description: 50 boxes of high-definition monitors
  • Weight: 1,500 kg
  • HS Code: 8528.52.10
  • Value: $30,000

2. Item Number: 002

  • Description: 30 boxes of assorted computer components (motherboards, RAM)
  • Weight: 450 kg
  • HS Code: 8473.30.11
  • Value: $15,000

3. Item Number: 003

  • Description: 20 boxes of LED lighting fixtures
  • Weight: 200 kg
  • HS Code: 9405.40.60
  • Value: $7,000
  • Total Number of Items: 3
  • Total Weight: 2,150 kg
  • Total Value: $52,000

Additional Information:

  • Special Handling Requirements: Fragile – Handle with care.
  • Insurance Details: Insured by Maritime Insurers, Policy No. 987654.

Declaration by Ship Master:

  • Name: Capt. Edward Reynolds
  • Signature:
  • Date: April 14, 2024

This manifest provides all necessary details about the cargo for port authorities, customs, and other regulatory bodies. It ensures efficient handling and tracking of goods from sender to receiver, while enhancing accountability throughout the shipping process.