Guidance

Transport document completion

How Standard Shipping Notes, Dangerous Goods Notes and Export Cargo Shipping Instructions work, and where you can get them from.

Introduction

Transport documentation is necessary for providing instructions about your consignment to the carrier, receiving authority or forwarder.

When you transport non-hazardous goods, you generally use a Standard Shipping Note (SSN). This gives port authorities clear instructions on how to handle your goods. The SSN can also be used for air freight.

If your goods are hazardous, they must be accompanied by a Dangerous Goods Declaration.

It’s also likely that you’ll use the Export Cargo Shipping Instruction (ECSI) when you export goods. The ECSI contains details of your consignment, including customs information and an allocation of costs.

Dangerous Goods Note

The DGN is a transport document that gives details about the contents of a consignment to carriers, receiving authorities and forwarders.

How the DGN is used

The DGN is used to accompany hazardous goods in transit.

You can use a DGN when you transport goods using all forms of transport except air freight, when the IATA Dangerous Goods Declaration is normally used.

When you transport dangerous goods, your consignment must be accompanied by a document that declares what the dangers of the goods are. By using a DGN, you can complete the same standard document for all consignments of dangerous goods, regardless of which port or ICD (Inland Container Depot) they are going to.

If you use the Customs Freight Simplified Procedures you can use a DGN as a pre-shipment advice.

For more information, see the guide on moving dangerous goods.

The benefits of using a DGN

When you use a DGN it gives the receiving authority complete, accurate and timely information about your consignment. So they have clear and precise details on how your goods should be handled.

Using a DGN also means that everyone who has an interest in your consignment has adequate information at each movement stage.

Standard Shipping Note

The SSN is a shipping document that gives details about the contents of a consignment to carriers, receiving authorities and forwarders.

How is the SSN used?

The SSN is used to accompany deliveries of non-hazardous goods in transit.

The SSN can be used for all consignments except dangerous goods.

By using the SSN, you can complete the same standard document for all consignments, regardless of which port or depot they are going to.

If you use the Customs Freight Simplified Procedures, you can use the SSN as a pre-shipment advice.

The benefits of using the SSN

When you use the SSN it gives the receiving authority complete, accurate and timely information about your consignment. So they have clear and precise details on how your goods should be handled.

Using the SSN also means that everyone with an interest in your consignment has adequate information at each movement stage, until its final loading on board a vessel or aircraft.

Complete the SSN

When you complete the SSN take into account the following:

  • where possible, you should avoid completing the SSN by hand because handwritten documents are often difficult to read and are more likely to contain inaccuracies
  • you can only include goods for a single shipment to a port or airport, or for a single sailing or flight, on one SSN
  • if you need to use continuation sheets they should be numbered and attached to each copy of the SSN
  • if you don’t fill in all the boxes on the SSN this will need to be resolved between all parties contractually involved in the consignment

Export Cargo Shipping Instruction

The ECSI is the instruction from the exporter to the forwarder or carrier.

How the ECSI is used

The ECSI contains the following information about your consignment:

  • the nature of the goods
  • the route to their destination
  • any transport requirements
  • customs information
  • who should receive specified documents
  • an allocation of costs

So it’s very important that the information you provide on the ECSI is accurate.

The benefits of using the ECSI

When you use the ECSI it gives everyone involved complete, accurate and timely information about your consignment. So all parties get clear and precise details on how your goods should be handled, which can save you time and money.

Complete the ECSI

You’re not required to use the ECSI. But it’s good exporting practice to do so because it’s a helpful checklist at the planning stage. And the ECSI also provides an authoritative record of your instructions on how your consignment should be handled. So if there’s any disagreement over procedures, documentation or charges you can use a properly completed ECSI as the source for resolving the dispute.

The ECSI is intended as a multi-purpose document that can be used for any of the following functions:

  • movement and handling of goods
  • customs formalities, including clearance and payment of any duties and taxes
  • distribution of commercial and transport documents related to the consignment
  • allocation of freight and other operational charges
  • special instructions, for example if the goods are dangerous or if additional documents are needed

Further information

Download a DGN form from the Department for Transport website (PDF, 30KB)

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