FCL Cargo Clearing Logistics
Documentation and Release Process


FCL cargo clearing logistics is the continuation from our previous post on ‘cargo clearing process’ just as I did promise and in this post, our analysis will be detailed on sea freights precisely full container load (FCL) shipments. Focusing on how a logistics firm or an individual (clearing agent) could confidently customs clear shipments (imported goods) from any port or terminal within that country.

To do this as a professional, firstly, once the shipment documents (bill of lading, packing list, the shipment invoice and so on) have been received by a logistics firm or an agent, the first thing is to figure out the shipping line or shipping company that will be contacted for the release of such shipment, and also the port or terminal where the container will be unloaded. This tracking process should be done prior to the vessels arrival in order to avoid demurrage.

Once the shipping line and the port or terminal has been identified, proceed with their requirements which must include the bill of lading document for that shipment. Meanwhile, in order to access any these companies (shipping line and the port), the logistics firm must be eligible to carry out their functions. For a logistics firm (Agency) to be eligible, the shipping line and the port or terminal would have endorsed the Agency’s authority document, and once that is figured out.


The next step is to proceed with the customs documentation process, which would require the submission of the shipment documents by the agent (a representative of a logistics firm contacted by the consignee) which should take effect prior to the vessel’s ETA (expected time of arrival).

Meanwhile, to fully execute FCL cargo clearing logistics process either as a firm or as an agent, customs documentation process should be done in an ideal manner.

Once the shipment documents have been submitted to the customs administrative section that has to do with importation, then customs officials would have to figure out the value of that shipment (goods) with the aid of its ‘HS Code’ and cargo invoice coupled with the goods description.

As soon as the value of the shipment is determined by the customs, it’s also important to find out if the shipment will be cleared via value declaration or PAAR (pre-annual assessment  report), if the later would be required, that means ‘Form M’ would also be raised through the central bank, based on foreign trade. Kindly find out if ‘PAAR’ and ‘Form M’ is required in your country or what is used in place of those documents.

Now let’s deploy customs and clearing terminologies, to access the container, enter the following;

  • Terminal code
  • The rotation number (RTN) (Generated by the shipping line)
  • The Tin number
  • The consignee’s name and the dimension of the container.

This process is known as ‘capturing’ or ‘punching’ a job via a DTI Café, in other words, the clearing agent would say ‘I’ve captured the job’. Which would’ve taken effect after you’ve figured out the value of the goods from the customs, and in the process, customs will issue the clearing agent the duty charges for that shipment.

Then the clearing agent or the agency responsible for the clearing of the full container load shipment would have to book for examination, which is done through the customs and the terminal operator – physical or fast track. But for diplomatic goods, shipment examination would be skipped.

Note: For diplomatic shipments, transshipment document is used, while PUBD shipments are duty-free. ‘You can also read up these in my previous post on import logistics’.

Once customs representatives are done with the shipment examination and have confirmed the cargo description declared on the bill of lading by the consignee tallied with the content of the container. Then the next is to make sure that the customs payments have been effected correctly if all have been done and other concern government agencies have also done their inspection, and satisfied. Then the clearing agent has released the job (shipment) from customs – at this point, the clearing agent will be issued ‘Exit Note’, meaning the clearing agent or the agency is done with customs process.


Next is the shipping and terminal release, while the first company to release with at this point is the shipping line. This is done after the shipping charges have paid coupled with container deposit (which will be refunded to the logistics firm or the clearing agent, if the container is returned within the rated period, not damaged but if it gets damaged or delayed beyond the rated date, those charges will be deducted from the container deposit).

Once the payments are made, the next thing is to submit all documents required by the shipping line which include the original copy of the shipment bill of lading document, and once the requirement is met and the liner’s representative is satisfied – then the delivery order of that shipment will be issued the clearing agent. At this point, he or she has taken release from the shipping line, and then the agent can proceed to the terminal.

Lastly, is to release with the Terminal or port, and this is done through this process. First is to pay the terminal charges, which has to do with the terminal handling charges. And the documents required at this point of cargo release include

  • The customs Exit Note
  • Indemnity letter from the logistics firm or clearing agency
  • Shipment bill of lading document and valid copy of the payment receipt and debit note already paid to the terminal.

This may include other documents, depending on the nature of the shipment, country policy, and the terminal.

Once all documents are verified and confirmed valid, then the Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) and the Equipment Interchange document will be issued the clearing agent or the Clearing Agency, an ATL (Authority to Load) will be issued the clearing agent that will enable the haulage truck gain access into the terminal to load the container.

While the last step on this is to exit the shipment through the terminal gate, this will require the verification of released documents (Shipping Line and Terminal) coupled with customs documents by the port or terminal officials at the gate before the shipment exits the Terminal. Once you are through with the whole process, you’re done, Congratulation.

My next post related to this topic will be based on ‘LCL shipments clearing logistics which might include other shipments as well (Ex. General Cargo).

  • I hope you found this article on ‘FCL cargo clearing logistics helpful?

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