Packing List

Document prepared in principle by the exporter, which describes in detail the characteristics of packages shipped

What is a packing list?


A packing list is used to identify the packages being shipped with the help of coding and details of the packages’ weight, volume or number of packages. It is an indispensable tool for ensuring the packages are conform with the order placed when the seller is preparing the invoice. The packing list forms part of the document file, which groups together all necessary documents for import-export operations.


Currently, where trade frontiers no longer exist, customs authorities demand several documents in order to verify goods with the aim of preventing fraud, as in the case of counterfeit goods. For this reason, the customs authorities require a packing list for export and import operations. In addition to the mention of the expediter and recipient, the packing list provides several details such as the brands, references and weight of each package that makes up the shipment. With the aid of the packing list, customs can also execute their fiscal duties, fight against international trafficking and protect people against health risks.


The packing list is integrated into the document file


In the documentation for international export-import operations, the following are included:

  • Business documents;
  • Customs and tax documents;
  • Export declaration
  • Trade declaration;
  • Documents linked to the mode of payment;
  • Documents relative to the implementation of transport
  • Insurance documents.


The packing list, as with the invoice, forms part of the business documents. It is emitted by the exporter (seller) to the importer (buyer). While the packing list is optional, it is nonetheless indispensable for making rigorous verifications. The invoice is examined by the customs authorities in order to evaluate fees and customs duties. However, no indication relative to cost or value of goods is given on the packing list.


Examples and practical applications


The parties who refer to the packing list

The packing list can be useful in several ways. Concerned parties are:

  • Customs authorities;
  • Transporters;
  • Handlers;
  • Warehouse keepers;
  • Client;
  • Expediter.


Details on the packing list

Given the current use of the document by the different actors, it is essential to list the packages correctly and legibly according to their packaging and markings. The packing list indicates:

  • The brand contained in each package;
  • The number of each package;
  • The gross weight (metric) of each package;
  • The net weight (metric) of each package;
  • Dimensions in centimetres of each package, given in a precise order, length, width, height;
  • Cubic volume of each package;
  • Detail of content of each package;
  • Total number of packages;
  • Total weight of the shipment;
  • Total cubic volume of the shipment.


Details to be indicated on the packing list

In addition to the above, several other obligatory information must be provided on the packing list:

  • Identity of the exporter;
  • SIRET number of the exporter;
  • Packing number;
  • Date of packing;
  • Number of document pages;
  • Identity of recipient;
  • Identity of the buyer;
  • Invoice number;
  • Place of issue of the packing list;

Identity, contact details and signature of the issuer of the packing list.