Packing List

Packing List: A Comprehensive FAQ Guide

Probably, you’re wondering how packing list looks like when importing from China.

Or, you just want to learn more about packing list.

This guide has all information about packing list you may be looking for – from definition, purposes, templates to content of packing list, among other vital aspects.

Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Packing List in Shipping?

 Packing list

Packing list

This is a shipping document that lists all the purchased goods to be shipped and the specific shipment recipient.

You can also describe it as a formal document showing an itemized list of goods within a shipping package.

In simple language, a packing list is a document containing all necessary information concerning the item.

Such information could be the quantity of cartons, packing sizes, quantity of each product among others

This document is widely used in international trade and contains relevant information regarding contents of the exported items.

Typically, a packing list shows the details relating to the consignment, including how they have been packed physically.

In some instances, it is also referred to as a packing slip, shipping list, or order slip.

What is the Purpose of Packing List?

Arguably, a shipping packing list is one of the essential documents for sending or receiving freight shipments.

Therefore, it plays a fundamental role in accomplishing the efficiency of the overall shipping process.

The shipping department uses this document to enable them to understand the delivery specifics of the consignment.

It allows the shipper to ensure they have included everything in the shipment.

Moreover, the recipient or consignee can reference this document to confirm every item is included in the shipment.

Additionally, a packing slip helps in order management.

It facilitates smooth transitioning, processing, and shipping of orders.

Order management primarily involves managing a product’s lifespan and keeping its track until it gets to the customer’s destination.

Therefore, entities can easily check and track the status of the product shipment and consequently simplifying the management process.

It is also important when the order arrives in several packages.

In this case, it plays the role of keeping track of what’s arrived and what has not.

You may also consider using this document as an additional branding opportunity as a seller.

Ideally, you can create a design similar to your brand and use a microcopy to express your voice.

Why is Packing List Important in Shipping?

Ostensibly, a packing list contains a list and information of the specific products shipped from the seller to the buyer.

Hence it plays an integral role in the entire shipping process.

Here are some of the reasons why this document is imperative in shipping;

· Physical Proof of Shipped Items

A packing list is typically a hard copy of all the packed goods.

It thus acts as evidence that all products mentioned are indeed shipped.

Therefore, it serves as physical proof of all the shipped commodities.

And should there be any mismatch, the shipment team should always be ready to provide the verification document.

Importantly, the document also helps the buyer and seller to track the goods of the shipment.

· Checking and Cross-checking

Timely delivery and correct order are fundamental in order fulfillment, especially in the ecommerce business.

A shipping list thus ensures the seller has included all the orders you mentioned in the shipment package.

Through this document, it becomes easy for both parties to count, check, and counter-check each product against mentioned quantities.

· Identification of Lost or Damaged Goods

This document helps determine any lost or damaged products.

In general, goods-in-transit are usually covered by insurance costs.

Hence with the aid of a packing list, it becomes easy to initiate and actualize the compensation process.

In refund cases, the packing list acts as evidence of the product being in-transit during such instances.

· Enhances Business Relations

The objective of most business entities is always to enjoy a straightforward and organized working culture.

Use of a shipping list helps in all the parties involved in order fulfilling the process.

It improves organization of the process hence making the business relations to become clearer and relatively strong.

· Allows Customs to Estimate Shipment Value

If you are shipping the products across borders, the customs department often uses this document to estimate the shipment value.

Moreover, it is also one of the requirements needed for facilitating the customs clearance process.

· Shipment Freight Booking

In many instances, a packing list is used for creating booking with international carriers.

Consequently, it makes it easy to issue the International Bill of Lading, which is equally a binding document in shipping.

What should the Packing List Contain?

In principle, a packing list should be precise and as thorough as possible.

The exact details included in this document may vary depending on the business and the items.

Even so, there are specific, consistent elements you will always find on almost any packing slip.

The details include the following;

1) Shipping Address, Order Date, and Contact Info

Similar to an invoice, a packing list also contains these basic information useful for filing purposes.

These details are essential, especially if any issues arise in-transit since the document comes in handy as a backup option.

2) Product Quantity

A quantity column on the packing slip helps to shorten the list to prevent it from coming out in several pages for the same item.

3) Itemized List of Shipped Items

Most buyers often check the products they receive against the list of ordered items.

The essence is to ensure you obtain the same commodities you had ordered and paid for.

Other common contents of the packing list include;

4) Itemized List of Stock-outs

With the invoice, most packing slip also includes the goods that were ordered but were out of stock.

This makes it easy for the customer to reorder if need be.

  • Packing list number
  • Company information – Name and logo
  • Shipper or carrier method
  • Product description
  • Weight of items
  • Order date and time
  • Name and address of the consignee
  • Name and address of the shipper
  • Any special instructions or note

Who Prepares Packing List?

The seller, supplier, or manufacturer creates the packing list.

It is usually compiled during picking and packaging the goods and sent to the good’s location for an accurate tally of items.

After the items are tallied and packed, the list is forwarded to their respective destination.

What is the Difference between Packing List and a Commercial Invoice?

A packing list and commercial invoice are more or less similar in nature.

However, they serve different purposes for purchase orders.

Commercial invoice

Commercial invoice

Import packing list

Import packing list

Some of the grounds on which these two documents vary include the following;

· Purpose

The purpose of a packing list is to mention and documenting every product purchased.

It also helps in tracking different shipments in case there is a huge number of orders.

On the other hand, the commercial invoice’s purpose is to mention and document financials or payments of the products.

It makes it easy for entities to be aware of their due payments where applicable for companies operating monthly payment clearance.

Primarily, an invoice consists of products sold within a specific timeframe with the respective payable amount for each item.

· Target Party

Packing list is primarily used by the shipment and warehouse teams. This is to ensure all the enlisted goods are received.

The shipping and warehouse teams also use this document to ascertain goods received or shipped are accurate.

However, a commercial invoice is mainly designed for company owners or the accounting department.

They go through the finance department, where they are subsequently cleared after confirmation.

· Mode of Sending

A packing slip is often sent during shipment of the items or goods-in-transit.

This allows the shipping team to know the specific items they are transporting.

On the other hand, a commercial invoice is sent directly to the customer or purchasing entity.

The shipping company does not necessarily get hold of this document, thus dispatched directly to the buyer.

Another fundamental difference is the commercial invoice is typically triggered by the payment platform.

A packing list, on the other hand, is prompted by the fulfillment or shipping technology.

Moreover, it is important to note that all businesses use invoices.

However, not all businesses use a packing slip.

In other words, a commercial invoice is a binding document in any business transaction.

A packing list, however, is essential but not necessarily mandatory in all business transactions.

Is it Legally Compulsory to have Packing List in International Shipping?

Different countries have various policies surrounding the need for the order slip for imports.

In some countries, a packing list is a mandatory requirement for any type of imported product.

Essentially, the customs department in such countries always requires this document to clear the shipment.

On the other hand, there are countries, which only require a packing list for certain imports.

In simple terms, there are some specific products, which must be only be cleared at customs upon submitting the packing slip.

In a nutshell, this document’s legality is based on whether it is compulsory depends on specific countries.

How do you Determine whether your Shipment needs Packing List?

You can use several ways to determine whether your consignment requires a packing list.

Some of these means include the following;

· Inquiring from the Consignee

After packing the goods accordingly, you may need to confirm with the recipient whether they need the order list.

In essence, some would not necessarily need it, whereas others would insist that it is forwarded to them.

Therefore, find out from the buyer to know whether or not you’ll need to send it over.

· Search Online

You may also need to find out from various online tools regarding the specific destination you’re shipping to.

For instance, you can check on the European Commission’s website to determine if this document is required in the region or country.

· Inquiring from the Freight Agent/Carrier

Most carriers and freight forwarders often deal with shipments for different customers.

Thus, they know the specific destinations where the packing list is a mandatory or necessary requirement.

You can, therefore, inquire from either party to determine if there is a need for the specific shipment to have a packing slip along.

· Inquire from the Local Chamber of Commerce

If need be, you can also find out from your local chamber of commerce.

They understand the requirements of different shipments in varying destinations.

Therefore, it becomes easy for you to get the correct position of including a packing list for the respective shipment.

Can you use Packing List as a Shipping Label?


A packing list ordinarily contains all the vital information surrounding the shipment, which you may need.

Therefore, you can as well choose to use it as a shipping label.

All you need it processing the product through your preferred shipping carrier and generate a shipping label.

However, you’ll need to stick the shipping label on its respective cartons.

This makes it possible for the shipping label to identify the content of every box.

However, this approach would do you a disservice, particularly if you’re seeking the best shipping rates.

How to Create a Packing List?

Various business entities use different types of pre-built computer programs to generate a packing list.

However, a template is often assigned to default as your packing slip for both local and international shipments.

In other words, you need to get pre-programmed computer software and integrate it with your systems.

Depending on the software you are using, you’ll create and generate the packing list accordingly.

Most of these software usually come with a manual, making it easy for you to create and print the list.

Moreover, you can choose to customize the order list depending on what suits your needs.

What is the Difference Between Packing List and Purchase Order Slip?

Purchase order slip

Purchase order slip

Packig list

Packing list

The purchase order slip is the first document the seller generates to document the projected transaction with the customer.

Manufacturers and suppliers commonly use it.

It typically lists all the ordered products, quantity, unit cost as well as the terms of payment.

Ideally, the purchase order slip is rarely used by direct-to-consumer sellers.

However, those involved in business-to-business are often familiar with it.

The purchase order slip only becomes a legally binding document for both parties once the customer agrees to purchase the order.

On the other hand, a packing list entails all the relevant information pertaining to the respective order shipped.

How do Packing List and Delivery Note Compare?

Delivery note

Delivery note

Delivery note refers to a document the consignee signs upon delivery or receipt of the shipment.

The carrier provides the delivery note to the consignee, who signs it as evidence of delivery.

Primarily, the delivery note lists the specific items and respective quantities delivered.

Even so, the delivery note is comparatively less detailed than a packing list.

The latter does not include price of the commodity and billing address.

Delivery note mainly focuses on listing the goods to allow carriers and buyers to cross-check actual shipment with a delivery note.

Are there Charges for Issuance of Packing List?

Not at all.

It is the responsibility of the seller to issue a packing list upon the buyer’s request.

The customer should never pay any amount of money to obtain a packing list.

How does Packing Fist fit in Warehouse’s Shipping Process?

Warehouse’s shipping process ensures the commodities get to the respective customers on time and accurately.

You must have a unique value proposition with a streamlined shipping process, and best practices hardwired into it.

You, therefore, need to address all the issues throughout the shipping process.

The critical elements to look into in this case include;

  • The packing process
  • Kitting and bundling
  • Picking list
  • Packaging

What is the Best way of Improving Packing List Template?

You can use a packing list as a marketing element for your business.

Therefore, you need to find better ways of enhancing the template and improving the customer experience.

Some of the ways you can use to improve the template of this document include the following;

  • Incorporating your branding – You can liven up your packing list by adding anything, such as your logo, to the entire paper.

Alternatively, you can also choose to add a watermark or change the copy depending on the season, such as Christmas.

  • Upsell and cross-sell – Include a coupon or promotional code in the available whitespace of your packing slip or checklist.
  • Express gratitude – You may decide to use the packing slip to thank the customers for doing business with your company.

You can be confident they’ll get the message since they have to use the document to confirm the shipment.

  • Enhance social interaction – In the modern digital age, social media has become a fundamental channel for interacting and communicating.

You can share your social media platforms on the packing list to connect further with customers.

What are the Considerations of a Packing List?

Of course, packing list should not necessarily be complicated.

However, there are a few elements you need to consider when fulfilling orders, such as the following;

· Environmental Impact

It is debatable from several quarters as to whether the packing list serves a purpose.

Some consider it as a point of reference for customers, whereas others see it as a wasted piece of paper.

Nevertheless, relying on an electronic version is ideally a more eco-friendly approach.

Therefore, where necessary, you may consider using an electronic version of order slip.

· An Integrated Process

This document serves as one of the multiple check marks in pick, pack, and ship process.

You need to integrate the process to prevent risk of more errors, particularly when generating the document manually.

Thus you need to utilize an automated tool, which makes the operations convenient and efficient.

You need to integrate the system you use to scan and confirm all goods throughout the fulfillment process.

· A Distinctive Customer Experience

You can always utilize the unboxing opportunity to create a lasting impression among your customers.

Packing slips are some of the elements you can use to market your brand.

Nonetheless, you need to find a better approach to using this document to make an impact without overwhelming the recipient.

While at it, the details you include should never distract the recipient from the important information.

Can you Amend a Packing List?


It is always possible to edit a packing list even after you have created one.

Most software programs used for generating this document have the provision, which allows you to amend it accordingly.

All you need is to determine the specific changes you want to make and alter them from the system for that reason.

However, it is recommended that you should always be meticulous when generating a shipping slip.

It becomes difficult to amend it once it gets to the customers.

And whether the mistake was accidental or deliberate, such incidents tend to compromise the integrity of your business.

Is Packing List Template same for all Businesses?


Packing list templates are different among businesses.

Different entities use various software and data systems to generate this document.

However, most of the content tends to be the same, perhaps with a different template design.

It, therefore, shows that the template will be different depending on the system and the needs of the specific business.

How does Export Packing List Work with the Type of Shipment?

Export packing list

Export packing list

In many instances, packing lists often vary depending on the specific type of shipment.

This can be in the form of Full Container Load (FCL), Less Container Load (LCL), or air freight shipment.

Mostly, FCL requires more containers; thus, you must provide details on shipped products based in a container along with total containers.

Typically, an FCL may not be fully loaded, but it counts as one as long as one shipper books it.

By contrast, if you export LCL, the packing slip often consists of product-wise details, given there is a single container.

The order list on air freight shipment at times may omit various items of an ordinary packing list.

Most air freight carriers use dimensions as a reference point for assessing the weight and volume of the shipment.

This makes it easy for the carriers to determine the airfare payable.

At BanSar, we help you in all custom clearance and shipping documentation needs.

Contact us now for freight forwarding services from China.

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