A shipping bill is a vital part of the shipping process, without it, you may run into trouble with customs clearance. To avoid this, it’s best to understand what it means and why you need it. This blog gives you an in-depth overview of this bill, the 4 different types and how Container xChange can help you digitalize your shipping bill process for smoother operations.

There are many documents required when it comes to importing and exporting goods. Some of them include a bill of lading, import license, certificate of origin, commercial invoice and more. However, one of the most vital of them all is the shipping bill. 

Say you’re a small business owner based in Los Angeles. You’re sending out a container shipment of handicrafts to a client in Italy. The Italian shop’s grand reopening is around the corner, and your handicrafts are the centerpiece of their collection. Your shipment is due to arrive in Italy in a few days. However, as the delivery date approaches, you receive a call from the customs authorities. They inform you that your shipment has not cleared customs and is being held at the port due to missing documentation – specifically, the crucial shipping bill.

Without this document, the customs authorities cannot clear your goods. You attempt to retrieve the missing shipping bill from your pile of paperwork, but realize you’ve misplaced the document! This delay has cost your client a missed sales opportunity. It’s safe to say they’re not happy! Which means you lose out on their business in the future, thus lowering your profit margins. 

Now, imagine if you had access to this document in one place and online. You could simply retrieve the missing document in a matter of minutes and have the goods reach your client on time. Make this your reality by digitizing your shipping documents with Container xChange to achieve streamlined business operations. Our platform is 100% online and provides you with everything you need all in one place. 

Our public search tool is one of these digital features. Find and compare container prices and get your box from vetted suppliers, without having to switch from one site to the next. Store and access all your documents and data digitally at anytime from anywhere on our platform. To get the process started, simply type in your location, the container type you’re in need of and hit search. It’s that easy! Browse through the various deals and find the one that suits you best. Go ahead, give it a try below! 

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What is a shipping bill?

A shipping bill is one of the main documents required for container clearance. It provides essential information that helps customs officials verify the accuracy of the declared goods, calculate any applicable duties or taxes, and ensure compliance with export regulations. Additionally, the shipping bill acts as a record of the goods being shipped, which can be important for trade statistics and tracking purposes.

Without a properly filled and submitted shipping bill, the export process can be delayed or even halted, potentially leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and disruptions to supply chain visibility

As you know, digitizing the shipping bill makes matters easier for you to manage your operations and Container xChange helps you with storing digital documentation. It does this using the API-integrated (application programming interface) software. With this software you can store documents from shipping bills to bills of lading and everything else in between. With so much documentation in one place, it gets a lot easier to manage your operations and keep things running on time without disruptions. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting any of these documents at the last minute. Come and explore our platform to utilize these benefits for your documentation needs today!

Shipping bill: Importance and purpose

The shipping bill is of paramount importance for the smooth functioning of international trade, here’s why:

Customs Clearance It aids customs officers in clearing goods by providing in-depth information. This information helps determine the appropriate taxes and fees for the goods.
Legal Declaration Think of it as an official statement from the sender. By giving accurate details about the goods, the sender ensures honesty and compliance with rules. 
Trade Statistics Helps keep track of the total number of goods leaving the country. This data is useful for the government and other parties involved to understand trade trends, economic performance, and make informed trade decisions.
Documentation It acts like a historical record of what’s been shipped. This is handy for audits, tracking shipments, resolving issues, and managing supply chains. It documents how things move from one place to another.
Risk Management The information in the bill lets customs officials spot potentially dangerous items. This allows them to closely examine things that might not be safe or legal, ensuring secure trade.
Regulatory Compliance When goods cross borders, rules relating to safety and the environment must be followed. The shipping bill ensures that the shipped items adhere to these rules.

Navigating international trade regulations requires meticulous attention to detail. By digitizing your shipping operations with Container xChange, you can avoid any potential mistakes and access your documentation stored in one digital space on our online platform. Click the banner below to see how xChange offers a more streamlined approach to your container operations! 

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What is the process of generating a shipping bill?

The process of generating a shipping bill may vary depending on the country and their local regulations. Below is a table that explaining the steps: 

Registration  Exporters have to register with an EDI system. They do this using an IEC code, AD code, or CHA license number.
Submission The shipping bill must then be submitted with the packing list and invoice copy at the Customs service center.
Checklist  A checklist is generated and awaits verification by the exporter.
Shipping bill number  The verified data is returned to the EDI system which then generates a shipping bill number.
Processing The shipping bill is then processed without any human intervention.
Payment At this point, if any export cess should be paid, the requisite cost is made available to the exporter and can be paid in full. 
Tracking  Track the status of your shipping bill via the customs service center. 

In some cases, it’s possible to come across errors in your shipping bill. Sometimes, certain changes are made. Let’s look at how to amend a shipping bill when necessary:

How to amend a shipping bill

Correcting or amending a shipping bill is an important process in international trade, as it allows exporters to rectify any inaccuracies or errors in the initial submission. If the documents haven’t been submitted and the shipping bill hasn’t been generated yet, you make corrections to the service center.

However, if there is a need for corrections after generating the shipping bill, they must be conducted through the Assistant Commissioner of Exports. Once you’ve submitted the corrected information and documentation, wait for the customs authority to review and approve the changes. They assess the validity of the corrections and ensure they align with regulations.

Format and contents of a shipping bill

The specific format and contents of a shipping bill can vary based on the country’s regulations and the shipping company’s requirements. However, here’s a general outline of the typical format and common contents found in a shipping bill:

  • Header Information: This section includes details such as the name of the shipping company, the shipping bill number, the date of issue, and the port of export.
  • Exporter Details: Information about the exporter, including their name, address, and contact information.
  • Consignee Details: Details about the recipient of the goods, including their name, address, and contact information.
  • Goods Description: The exporter provides a description of the exported goods, including information such as quantity, weight, dimensions, and any relevant product codes or classifications.
  • Port of Loading: The port where the goods will be shipped.
  • Port of Discharge: The destination port where the goods will arrive.
  • Vessel/Airline Information: Information about the transportation vessel or airline in use, including the vessel’s name or flight number, departure date, and anticipated arrival date.
  • Declaration: A declaration by the exporter that the information provided in the shipping bill is accurate and complete.
  • Customs Information: This section includes details required by customs authorities, such as the value of the goods, the declared customs value, applicable duties and taxes, and any relevant licenses or permits.
  • Shipping Instructions: Instructions to the carrier or shipping company regarding handling, routing, and delivery of the goods.
  • Container Information: If applicable, information about the containers used to transport the goods, including container numbers and seal numbers.
  • Documents Attached: A list of documents attached to the shipping bill. These are invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, and any other relevant paperwork.
  • Signatures and Stamps: Signatures of authorized personnel from the exporter, shipping company, and sometimes customs officials.

4 types of shipping bills explained

Now, moving on to the types of shipping bills. There are four types you need to keep in mind to understand which one you need to use and when: 

⚡Dutiable Shipping Bill

People use a dutiable shipping bill when they export goods. They’re subject to customs duties, taxes, or other port charges in the destination country. This type of shipping bill includes details about the exported goods, their value, and the applicable duties or taxes. These are paid upon arrival in the importing country. 

⚡Duty-Free Shipping Bill

Companies use this type of shipping bill when they export goods with the intention of claiming exemption from customs duties and taxes in the destination country. Companies ship the goods under duty-free provisions, thereby avoiding the usual customs duties and taxes. This requires specific documentation and declarations to prove that the goods meet the eligibility criteria for duty-free treatment. These criteria could include the type of goods, the intended use and country of origin. 

⚡Drawback Shipping Bill

Typically, companies use a drawback shipping bill when they export goods that they had previously imported and for which they had paid customs duties or taxes. This shipping bill aims to recover a refund for the duties or taxes paid on the imported goods when re-exporting them in a processed or modified form.

⚡Shipping Bill for export of goods under (DEPB)

A Shipping Bill for the export of goods under the Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme (DEPB) is a specific type of shipping bill used when exporting goods that are eligible for benefits under the DEPB scheme. In India, exporters utilized the DEPB scheme, an export incentive program, to claim credits for customs duties paid on imported raw materials or inputs utilized in producing exported goods.

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Streamline your shipping bill process with Container xChange

With the importance and types of shipping bills taken care of it’s time to let xChange step in to help you with the process of digitalizing your documents. Through our example of the handicraft store you now know the importance of having all the necessary shipping documents with you. And you know what can go wrong if you only depend on the physical copies – difficulty finding them, or even losing them, which in turn can cause delays in your shipment and lead to a container rollover. 

Avoid this by digitalizing your documents. This allows for a more streamlined and efficient way of managing your operations. What’s even better is if you have access to these documents all in one place, at any time, from anywhere. Container xChange does just that for your business. With us, you’ll be able to digitalize important shipping documents such as bills of lading, and shipping bills as well as track and stay up to date on the status of your shipments in near-real time through the API software. 

So, don’t waste any more time to start streamlining your documentation process, go digital with xChange! Start now and click on the banner below. 

Difference between a shipping bill and bill of lading

Apart from the shipping bill, another term that commonly props up with shipping documents is the bill of lading.  And there’s a misconception within the industry as to both these terms being one and the same. However, here’s what sets them apart: 

A shipping bill is a document that is required by customs authorities in the exporting country. The exporter submits this document to customs before actually shipping the goods, providing details about the exported goods.

A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier, such as a shipping company or a freight forwarder, to acknowledge the receipt of goods for the shipment. It serves as a contract of carriage between the shipper (exporter) and the carrier. 

Both documents play distinct roles in the export and shipping process. Customs procedures are the primary association of the shipping bill. The bill of lading primarily serving as a transportation contract and proof of ownership.

Did you know? Container xChange allows you to track containers outside of our platform? That’s right, our API tracking also allows you to integrate equipment management systems with our own system. You can also upload data as excel files, so you’ll have everything you need in one go. Reach out to one of our experts today to see how you can do this and more when you join the xChange community! 

Digitalize your shipping bill process with Container xChange

As the industry begins to recognize the significance of shipping digitalization strategy, the Container xChange platform propels container operations into the modern age. By simplifying container management and offering real-time visibility, the platform allows you to manage your shipping bill process easily. 

When you join with xChange, you’ll be able to connect and interact with 1500+ vetted container suppliers in over 2500 locations. Here, you can find over 50k container types and compare and negotiate rates  to find a deal that suits your budget, thanks to our market price transparency. You can also manage and keep track of your financial operations through the xChange Wallet.  

Whether you’re a startup company or an industry veteran, our platform benefits you greatly through the world of digitalization. So come and digitalize all your documents and stay up to date on the status of your box. All in one place! Check it out for yourself. Click on the banner below to see how Container xChange makes your operations easy and efficient!

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Shipping bill: Common FAQs

What is a shipping bill?

A shipping bill is a legal document that serves as a customs declaration, providing details about the goods being exported from one country to another. It is required by customs authorities to monitor and regulate international trade, ensuring compliance with regulations and tariffs.

What is on a shipping bill?

A shipping bill typically includes information about the exporter, importer, description of goods, quantity, value, destination country, mode of transport, and other relevant details. It also includes a declaration of the accuracy of the information provided, signed by the exporter or their authorized representative.

Can I submit my shipping bill electronically?

Yes, in many countries, you can submit your shipping bill electronically through customs' designated online platforms or systems. However, the availability of electronic submission may vary depending on the country's customs procedures.