A Shipping Bill is an important document required by the customs authorities for the clearance of goods.

In this article, we will discuss the following topics in details:

  1. What is a shipping bill?
  2. How does the shipping bill process work?
  3. Procedure for generation of shipping bill
  4. Format of shipping bill

1. What is a shipping bill?

An exporter, while sending goods from one country to another has to go through various formalities including submitting various applications, acquiring licenses, paying duties and so on. To acquire a clearance for export, from the Customs, an exporter will have to submit an application called the ‘shipping bill’. One cannot load the goods unless the exporter files the shipping bill. The export may be by air, vehicle, or vessel.

The goods can only be taken on board if the goods are accompanied by certain documents as described below:

At seaport/ airport Shipping bill
At land customs station Bill of export
For goods transhipment Bill of transhipment.

A shipping bill is to be submitted electronically. However, the Principal Commissioner or the Commissioner may grant an exemption and accept a physical application, where an electronic submission is not feasible.

A shipping bill has various forms which are differentiated by colour. The colour schemes denote the following:

Sr. No. Form Name Colour
1. Dutiable Goods Yellow
2. Duty-free goods White
3. Goods with drawback claims Green
4. Goods allowed to be exported as duty-free ex-bond Pink
5. Export goods under DEPB Scheme Blue

2. How does the shipping bill process work?

A shipping bill can be filed after the particular vessel/ship, etc., is granted with entry outwards that allows it to move out of the country. Once the bill is submitted, it is physically verified and the value of the goods intended for export are assessed by the customs authorities. The customs authorities verify these bills and endorse the copy with ‘LET EXPORT ORDER’ and ‘LET SHIP ORDER.’

3. Procedure for generation of shipping bill

a. The exporter gets registered with the Customs with their IEC Code No. or Customs House Agents (CHA) license No. and Authorised Dealer Code No. of the bank through which the export proceeds will be realised.

b. A declaration in a specific format signed by the exporter or his authorised CHA is to be submitted at the service centre along with a copy of the invoice and the packing list.

c. After the data entry is completed, a checklist will be generated and the same is handed over to the exporter.

d. The exporter verifies the data and intimates the service centre.

e. Once the data is verified and corrected, it automatically gets processed.

f. It will be assessed by the Assistant Commissioner (export) when the value of such goods is more than Rs.10 lakhs, or it contains free samples worth more than Rs.20,000 or if the drawback amount exceeds 1 lakh.

g. After the processing is done, the exporter can check the status of the bill with the service centre.

h. Sometimes, queries might be raised to an exporter, who will have to file his reply through the service centres.

i. At the docks, all the original documents such as invoice, packing list etc. are to be submitted by the exporter/CHA along with a checklist.

j. If everything is in order, ‘Let Export Order’ will be issued by the proper officer.

k. Once the ‘Let Export Order’ is issued, the print out of the shipping bill gets generated.

4. Format of shipping bill

The format of shipping bill is as follows:

shipping bill format- Original copy

The form above should be accompanied with the documents enlisted below:

a. Invoice

b. Packing list

c. Export license

d. Indent

e. Acceptance of Contract

f. Letter of  Credit

g. QC Certificate

h. Port Trust Document

i. Any other (as specified)