What is a consignor?
When transporting freight and goods, either by ocean, air, or land, there are two parties involved — one who is shipping the freight and the other who is receiving it. The sender or shipper is referred to as the consignor.
The term is used in commercial invoices and contract of carriage documents to denote the party sending the goods. By extension, this also suggests that the consignor has the initial ownership of the goods and is legally liable for the shipped freight – until paid in full by the receiver or consignee.
So, for example, if Mr. Bill Gates is sending a container full of flowers to Mr. Sundar Pichai, Mr. Bill Gates is the sender or consignor; and Mr. Sundar Pichai is the receiver or consignee.
A consignor is not necessarily the manufacturer of the goods, but the party responsible for sending or exporting the goods. These can include:
- The factory where goods were manufactured and sent from
- Individual shipping the goods
- Distribution centers sending the products
- The agent who takes ownership of exporting the freight
Likewise, the origin of the consignor can be a factory, warehouse, port, or even an agent’s address — depending on the location of the initial shipment.
The consignor is responsible for taking care of the entire shipping process and fulfilling the order placed by the consignee. The process includes:
- Picking up the goods from the factory/warehouse
- Packaging & labeling
- Issuing handling instructions
- Proper documentation (Commercial invoice, bill of lading, packing list, etc.)
- Customs fees (depending on your arrangement with the buyer)
- Insurance charges
- Transportation of freight
- Payment of dues
Most importantly, the Bill of Lading (BoL) is issued and signed by the shipper or consignor, which acts as a contract of carriage. All the other shipping documents, like commercial invoices, or special export licenses (if required), are given by the consignor as well. Also, all the documents must have the exact details of the consignor including name, registered address, and TIN/VAT number (if any), among others.
The consignor must also provide accurate and updated information to the carrier to ensure timely and hassle-free shipment. This helps to avoid any miscommunication between the shipper, carrier, and receiver when transporting goods.
Consignor v/s Carrier
After completing the legalities, the consignor then chooses a freight carrier to move the goods from the place of origin to the place of destination (consignee).
So, while a consignor sends the goods to the receiver/consignee, a carrier is the intermediary who delivers the said goods to the receiver/consignee or their agent.
Terms related to consignor
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