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Freight from the USA

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 of countries around the world allow consignees (importers of records) to work on cargo recoveries directly with the Customs, unless you are not a professional, it is a good idea to work on the recovery with the international carrier's agent or hire a licensed in the country customs broker.

Moreover, if 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. You should avoid the headache and/or extra charges that may occur in the event you fail in your destination country's import recovery procedures for a reasonable fee.

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.


Wait for, and do not miss an arrival notice.

As a rule, an arrival notice in your shipping from the USA should be issued to your consignee and a notified party several days before your goods will be entered the commerce zone of the destination country. Therefore, you should have time to prepare for import recovery. 

Arrival Notice in Seafreight

An Arrival Notice should be emailed or faxed to the consignee and/or to the notifying party (if any). Expect it on/in a few days before ETA in your shipping from the USA. Do not miss it! Upon receipt of the arrival notice, start working on your cargo recovery with the ocean freight carrier's destination agent without delay. Keep your eyes on your cargo recovery! Do not let it go out of your control.

If, for any reason, you will not receive an arrival notice as expected, then contact the ocean freight carrier's destination agent as in your bill of lading on/in a few days before your cargo ETD (Estimated Time of Arrival). If the agent has not yet received information about your arriving cargo, then email or fax them a copy of your bill of lading. Reconfirm your contact information, and wait for the arrival notice.
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 place of delivery but to the port of discharge, where your cargo should be trans-shipped to the place of delivery (the final destination).
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, as stated in your bill of lading. Ground transportation from a port of discharge to a landlocked city can take 10-15+ additional days. If it is a hub-seaport, from Europe to Africa or Asia to Oceania, for example, it may take 25+ days to reach the final destination.
When you track your shipment on the carrier's website, pay attention to the TRANSHIPMENT ETA. TRANSHIPMENT ETA may not be available until the cargo is actually re-loaded for the trans-shipping. Once again, you may contact the carrier's destination 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.


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 will not be contacted by the sea freight carrier's destination agent on/in a few days before ETA (Estimated day 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 will 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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