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Freight from the USA

Don't miss your Arrival Notice! | Contact carrier's agent | TRANSHIPMENT ETA

Arrival Notice (Notice of Arrival)

In respect of international cargo transportation from the USA LCL, an Arrival Notice (Notice of Arrival) is the document issued by an ocean freight carrier's destination agent to the consignee (the recipient of internationally shipping goods) and to their notify parties, if any, to inform that cargo is arriving in the destination.

The arrival notice provides details of the arriving cargo corresponding with the sea freight bill of lading related to international shipping. It should also provide initial instructions on the recovery of importing goods, destination charges related to the cargo release, and a list of shipping documents necessary to get the release. It should contain:

  • Commodity description,
  • Sailing details,
  • Destination country customs-related charges,
  • Ocean freight carrier's agent's contact details,
  • LOT number associated with the arriving cargo,
  • Initial instructions on the import recovery, etc.

Sea freight from USA

Please keep in mind that an Arrival Notice is NOT a freight release document. An Arrival Notice is a document that allows the consignee to file the entry of importing goods into the commerce zone of the destination country and initiate the import recovery under the law of the country.

Also, please keep in mind that, due to Customs regulations, the carrier's destination agents may contact you upon arriving your cargo at a PORT OF DISCHARGE, but to the PLACE OF DELIVERY as in your Bill of Lading. Then you have to begin working with the agent to get your cargo to the place of delivery without delay. At this time, if necessary, you may conduct with the agent delivery of your cargo "to your door."

Please note that, most likely, the destination agent will receive information about your incoming cargo a few days before your cargo arrives. If you contact the agent too early, don't be frustrated that they are not aware of your shipment. Leave them a copy of your bill of lading, reconfirm your contact information, and wait for an arrival notice on/in a few days before the ETA.


Parties involved in import recovery

  • The consignee (in respect of import recovery called Importer of Records),
  • Destination’s country officials (Destination country's Customs, Government agencies that may concern with imported goods, Customs, and border protection officers, etc.),
  • An international ocean freight carrier's destination agent,
  • A Customs broker licensed in the destination country. Most of the time, the ocean freight carrier's agent is the Customs broker as well.,
  • Other parties related to the import recovery and delivery (if necessary) "to the door" of the recipient of the importing goods: domestic freight forwarders, bonded and local warehouses, local cargo transportation companies, etc.

Please note that import recoveries in international shipping are a complex and time-sensitive process. Even though most countries around the world allow consignees (importers of records) to work on cargo recoveries directly with the Customs, unless you are a professional in customs, it is a good idea to hire a licensed customs broker.

When shipping from the U.S. freight LCL, unlike with FCL, you always have an ocean carrier's agent responsible for the de-consolidation of your cargo. Most of the time, the agent is a customs broker as well. They should assist you in your destination country's customs clearance procedures for a reasonable fee. However, occasionally, your agent may ask you to clear your importing goods with customs. Then you have to seek a customs broker licensed in the country.

Please keep in mind that if, for any reason, you forgot about or missed arriving of your imported goods, that does not mean that the destination country's officials will forget about that.



An arrival notice in your shipping from the USA should be issued to your consignee and a notified party (if any) by the sea freight carrier’s destination agent several days before your goods will be entered the commerce zone of the destination country (ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival in your shipping). The contact information of the agent is on your Bill of Lading. Depending on the format of the Bill of Lading, it is under ‘FOR DELIVERY PLEASE APPLY TO’ or ‘To Pick up Freight, Please Contact’ or ‘PRESENT DOCUMENTS TO:’, etc.


Typically, the Arrival Notice will be emailed to your consignee as shown on your bill of lading. That's why it is so important to have a valid email in your consignee's contacts. Please carefully monitor the email during the ETA.


Arrival Notice in Seafreight

You can always check your ETA by tracking your shipment on your sea freight carrier website by your booking or bill of lading number.

Please keep in mind that when you track your shipment on a sea freight carrier’s website, the TRANSHIPMENT ETA may not be available until your international shipment will arrive at the Port of Discharge at the ETA and is confirmed onboard for the transshipment.

SHIPMENTS WITH TRANS-SHIPPING: If a Port of Discharge on your bill of lading differs from the Place of Delivery, then the ETA in your shipping from the USA may NOT be the ETA to the final destination. The ETA is to the Port of Discharge, where your cargo will be handled for further transshipping to the final destination (Place of Delivery).

In other words, unless the Port of Discharge is your final destination, when tracking your shipment on the carrier's website, always pay attention to the TRANSHIPENT ETA. The TRANSHIPMENT ETA is the actual ETA for your international shipment. Do not confuse ETA and the TRANSHIPMENT ETA.

There are different modes of trans-shipping. Cargo can be either re-loaded on another vessel, or there can be ground transportation by rail or truck or both. So, it will take additional time for your cargo to reach the Place of Delivery (your final destination). Ground transportation from a port of discharge to a landlocked city may take 10-15+ days. If the Port of Discharge is a hub-seaport, from Europe to Africa or Asia to Oceania, for example, it may take 25+ days to reach the final destination.


Contact your agent

Please remember that the sea freight carrier’s destination agent may not receive any particular information about your shipment until very few days before the ETA or TRANSIPMENT ETA. However, if you wish, you may contact the agent in advance. If the agent didn't yet receive information about your shipment, then email or fax them a copy of your bill of lading. Reconfirm your contact information, and wait for the arrival notice.

IF, FOR ANY REASON, YOU DID NOT RECEIVE AN ARRIVAL NOTICE AS EXPECTED, DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT THE OCEAN FREIGHT CARRIER'S DESTINATION AGENT! Email or fax them a copy of your bill of lading. Reconfirm your contact information, and insist on the arrival notice. Otherwise, storage charges, Customs penalties, and other significant expenses may occur, due to delay in your import recovery.


Do not ignore or delay your cargo recovery at the destination.

IMPORTANT!!: Since you decided to ship goods from the U.S. overseas, you must clearly understand that as soon as your goods exit the U.S. Commerce zone, U.S. laws do not apply to your freight. Neither a U.S. freight forwarder nor an ocean freight carrier will be able to assist you in your import recovery overseas. The ocean freight carrier's destination agent should guide you. However, the agent is not a U.S. business. No one but your consignee (in respect of import recovery, professionally called Importer of Records) can be aware of and work on issues that may lead to problems with your importing goods at the destination.

Yes, International Maritime Laws should apply to your freight. But depending on the country that you ship to, the Laws may be interpreted in different ways. Do not say about other subjective factors peculiar only to your destination country.

Most of the time, with LCL freight, you do not need to hire a destination country's customs broker. Carrier's destination agent is the customs broker, as well. However, we suggest that, in case of problems, your first step should be to apply for help from an independent customs broker licensed in the destination country.

What can we suggest to you if, for some reason, you will experience problems with the recovery of your LCL sea freight shipment at the destination?:

  1. If, for any reason, you are not contacted by the sea freight carrier's destination agent on/in a few days before ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), do not wait and contact them first. The contact info is in your bill of lading.
  2. Always request a legal Arrival Notice. Your Arrival Notice must be dated and contain the agent's letterhead and destination charges breakdown. Phone calls or random emails are not enough.
  3. Properly work with the sea freight carrier's destination agent. Respect the agent's job. Their business is to get your goods for you as soon as possible. Follow the agent's instructions. Pay destination charges and fees (sometimes called Local Charges) and possess your released goods.
  4. If you face a problem with your shipping from the USA, do not hesitate to contact us. However, if you do not provide a copy of your legal Arrival Notice, we most likely will be unable to work with the carrier on your behalf. I.e., we will always need a copy of your Arrival Notice.

Remember: Import recoveries are time-sensitive! As quickly you begin working on it, as less probably that you will get the deadline penalties: storage, demurrage, Customs penalties, etc.

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