A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Process

A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Process

International shipping is anything but simple. There are many milestones that must be reached during the process of getting cargo from one port to another. The process involves the flow of goods and document from the place of origin to the place of destination. In order for the process to be completed successfully, transferring of goods and preparation of documents from one party to another must take place in synchronization. Here’s an overview of the entire shipping process.

Step 1: Request Quotes

The first step to take in shipping process is to request quotes. But before that, you need to verify the details of the shipment first. From its ship date, detailed origin, destination addresses, and the dimensions of the freights. Once you get this done, you can start getting quotes from the forwarders. It’s up to you on how you want to get things done, either call or email them. After that, you’ll have to wait for few days for the quotes to get back and compare.

Another convenient way is getting your quotes for your ocean or air shipment on Back Office Offshoring Services. By providing the key information that you have already prepared, you will receive multiple quotes from different carriers in just one click.

Any special requirements should be enumerated which includes shipping of dangerous or hazardous goods.

Step 2: Choose a freight forwarder

Once you’ve gathered all the quotes, next step is to choose the right freight forwarder to move your shipment that best fits your target rate. There are over 100,000 freight forwarding companies worldwide. What makes it harder isn’t choosing the best but choosing the right one. Although this isn’t the time to worry about that because we’ve gathered some information on how to choose the right freight forwarder that would suit your needs.

Step 2.1: Experience is key

This tops all the items on this list. Choose a freight forwarder who is expert on his field and has years of experiences. Find a freight forwarder that has dealt many situations including but not limited to the following:

  • Worker strikes
  • Shutdowns of ports
  • Rerouting of cargo
  • Warehousing issues and so on

A freight forwarder is someone who helps you avoid and lessen problems arising in customs, warehouse, and routing to ensure your international shipping runs smoothly. Take note that a freight forwarder should have capability certifications. Our Cargowise Back Office Operators have undergone Offshore Cargowise Training and they are all certified, highly trained and experienced.

Step 2.2: Services Offered

Double check the services offered by the freight forwarder. As an industry, you need to look for a freight forwarder who can deliver the services that you need. They should be able to manage both air and sea exports and imports as well as rail and trucking for the shipping of your goods.

Step 2.3: Good Customer Services and References

Any business that observes good customer service is good business. It is reassuring to know that the freight forwarder you are going to entrust your cargo with offers good customer as this  is very important. Having good customer service involves the following:

  • Being very proactive in responding to requests or queries about shipments.
  • Being able to discuss the requirements and the processes if you are new to the business.
  • Being able to take care of the needs of the business with professionalism.

Also, the right freight forwarder has good reviews and recommendations. Word of mouth is way effective than any forms of advertisement. If people say good things about a certain product or service, we feel confident about trying it on our own. Same goes to freight forwarders — if you haven’t heard good testimonials about the service, then that’s a clear sign.

Step 3: Preparing of the necessary documents


This is one of the most important steps in the shipping process. It is something that you need to do- and do correctly- to successfully deliver the goods and make money. Here are eight standard export documents you need to understand and prepare for successful shipping.

Proforma Invoice

In typical export exchange, everything starts when you receive an inquiry about one or more of your products. That inquiry includes a request for a quotation.  In an international transaction, the quote requested would serve as a proforma invoice and it will be used to arrange for financing, to open a letter of credit, to apply for the import licenses, and more.

Commercial Invoice

Whenever the proforma invoice is sent to your international prospect and received the order, you need to prepare your goods for shipping, including the paperwork. Once you have finalized and prepared your goods for export, you need to prepare proper shipping documents and it includes three copies of the commercial invoice with these data elements:

  • Time and place where the merchandise is sold.
  • Seller’s name, address, contact information, and possibly TIN number.
  • Buyer’s full name, address, contact information, and TIN number.
  • Full name, address, contact information, and TIN number of the ship to party.
  • A detailed description of the merchandise.
  • Country of the shipment.
  • Trade term and location associated with the term.
  • Goods and services for the production of the merchandise.
  • A signature, title of the signor, and date of signing.
  • Additional information provided in the terms and conditions on the document.

Packing List

A packing list identifies items in the shipment and includes the net and gross weight and dimensions of the package in both U.S. imperial and metric measurements.  It is used to identify markings that appear on the packages, and any special instructions for ensuring safe delivery of the goods to their final destination.

Certificates of Origin

While some countries will accept a statement of origin on the commercial invoice, the customs authorities of other countries may ask for a separate document titled a certificate of origin. This would serve as documentary evidence that the goods originated in the country stated in the certificate, commercial invoice, or packing list.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

Shipping’s Letter of Instruction contains all the information needed to successfully move your goods. Regardless of the forwarder you hired, it’s important that you provide him or her this document.

Bills of Lading

You surely need at least one but you may need several of this document. It is used to accompany your export. For example, you might be required to have an inland bill of lading to move your goods to a port or airport. In order to do that, you will need a separate bill of lading, which is usually filled out by your forwarder.

Dangerous Goods Forms

This document is for those products considered as dangerous goods by either the International Air Transport Association (IATA) or the International Maritime Organization (IMO). You are required to include appropriate dangerous goods form with your shipment. This form needs to be completed and filled up by someone who has undergone training on how to handle dangerous goods shipping.

Bank Draft

A bank draft is important because it used for transferring control of the exported goods from the seller in exchange for funds from the buyer. It is also known as the documentary collection because the seller attaches various documents to a bank draft and a cover letter.

Step 4: Confirm the details of the shipment

When you are done preparing for the shipping process, make sure to double check and confirm the shipment details. Verify its origin of shipment, B/L number, number and type of containers, reference type and number. Check if everything is set to be moved.

Step 5: Book your freight

Once the confirmation of shipment details is done, you can now proceed to booking your freight. In this step, you’ll have access to all the available rates for the route you’ve selected. You will see that different carriers have different routes and transit times. Add the services you require at origin or destination, such as pick-up, delivery, port, charges, etc. The prices will automatically update according to the services selected. Make sure to choose the quote that best suits your needs. After that, confirm the departure date and make sure that the availability is confirmed by the shipping line then wait for them to submit your booking to the shipping line once they’ve completed the booking and payment.

Step 6: Track and manage your shipment online

Once you receive a booking confirmation email from the freight forwarder, you can start tracking your shipment. Some forwarders, offer to track of your shipment through online and it’s real-time. But in Total Back Office Solutions, we don’t just offer online tracking and real-time management, but we also feature other platforms such as invoice, document and contract organization.

Step 7: Shipment passes through customs at port of entry



Your shipment will be evaluated by the customs if it meets the requirements set by them. If it does, no issue will be set on your shipment and it can pass through. But if not, your shipment will be held under the custody of customs until the balance is paid.

Step 8: Reimburse the bill for customs duties and taxes

The bill here will include the duties and taxes directly from the forwarder and it must be paid directly to the forwarder. Some forwarders don’t accept payment via check or bank transfer but mostly do. When there’s a request made for inspection service, the charges will also be billed directly to you.

Step 9: Receive the shipment

When everything goes smoothly you will receive your shipment as soon as possible. In Total Back Office Solutions, instant rate search and booking features also work for LTL freight. Regardless of whether you use Back Office Offshoring Services, you can always instantly search and compare LTL rates for millions of freight routes internationally. Booking LTL freight or any other tracking services for your final delivery can be done easily on Total Back Office Solutions.