Experts in shipping activities and operations can confirm the fact that the line between the concepts of exporters and shippers is a very thin one and one that seems to be raising quite a few difficulties on a constant basis. Therefore, let us have a closer look at the exact roles these two entities, whether natural or legal persons, play in the overall equation of the shipping industry.
Within the specialised terminology of the shipping industry, the exporter is defined as the natural or legal person possessing the necessary authorisations from Government and Customs authorities to carry out exporting activities in various countries around the world. In the context of any cargo being shipped overseas, it is the exporter’s responsibility to handle the necessary packing, labelling and documentation details as well as to ensure that all insurance requirements are met. In other words, it is the exporter’s duty, for instance, to make sure that the cargo packaging can withstand transportation so that the cargo reaches its destination in good condition. Also, they are responsible with the cargo being labelled correctly so as to enable its proper handling and timely shipping. As for the documentation that must accompany the cargo to be shipped, the exporter must check whether it is compliant with the foreign government policies and regulations as well as whether the collection standards are met. Last but not least, it is their responsibility to make arrangements for the cargo to be insured in the event of damage, loss, delay or pilferage. However, it should be noted that most exporters delegate these tasks to freight forwarders on account of the exporting process being very complex.
The shipper, on the other hand, is defined as the natural person, legal person or entity that features in the shipping documentation as having ordered a shipment. However, they may also feature in the shipping documentation as the natural person, legal person or entity responsible with the freight payment arrangements being made, among others. It should be noted that it is not compulsory that the shipper featuring on the shipping documents have an export licence or be registered as the seller of the goods to be shipped. In addition to this, the shipper may be replaced on the bill of lading by a freight forwarder.
It should be noted that, generally, the shipping documentation includes an air waybill (in the case of an air freight shipment), a bill of lading, a commercial invoice, a consular invoice, a certificate of origin, a NAFTA certificate of origin (in the case of cargoes being shipped to countries belonging to the NAFTA zone, i.e. Mexico, the United States of America or Canada), an inspection certificate, a dock receipt, a warehouse receipt, a destination control statement, a shipper’s export declaration (SED), an export licence, an export packing list and, last but not least, an insurance certificate. However, it will vary depending on the country of destination and its import regulations.
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