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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. It corresponds 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

Remember 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 country's law.

Also, please remember that 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 unaware 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 be concerned 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 the 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 worldwide 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 the arrival 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 enter the commerce zone of the destination country (ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival in your shipping). The agent's contact information is on your Bill of Lading. Depending on the Bill of Lading format, 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 having a valid email in your consignee's contacts is so important. 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 using your booking or bill of lading number.

Please remember that when you track your shipment on a sea freight carrier's website, the TRANSHIPMENT ETA may not be available until your international shipment arrives 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, when tracking your shipment on the carrier's website, always pay attention to the TRANSHIPENT ETA unless the Port of Discharge is your final destination. The TRANSHIPMENT ETA is the actual ETA for your international shipment. Do not confuse the ETA and the TRANSHIPMENT ETA.

There are different modes of trans-shipping. Cargo can be either re-loaded on another vessel, or ground transportation can be done by rail, truck, or both. So, your shipment will take additional time 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, 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 hasn't yet received information about your shipment, 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 U.S. laws do not apply to your freight as soon as your goods exit the U.S. Commerce zone. Neither a U.S. freight forwarder nor an ocean freight carrier can 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 you ship to, the Laws may be interpreted differently. 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. The 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 if, for some reason, you experience problems with recovering 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/within 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 (sometimes called Local Charges) and possess your released goods.
  4. If you face a problem with 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! The more quickly you begin working on it, the less likely you will get the deadline penalties: storage, demurrage, Customs penalties, etc.

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