General Cargo Clearing
General Cargo Unloading Process


General cargo clearing logistics is a continuation from our previous post on ‘LCL cargo clearing logistics’, just as I did promise. For a better understanding of shipments under this category, I will start by explaining the nature of these type shipments.

General cargo shipments are goods shipped without the use of containers, these goods are shipped as they are packaged (either in pallets, cases, crates, jumbo bags, pieces and so on), however, the clearing process deployed for such shipments is different from FCL and LCL shipments clearing process.

Meanwhile, it’s important we understand that our primary focus in this subject is on how these goods are properly cleared from ports and terminals.

Firstly, we begin our clearing analysis with shipments classified as General Cargo, such as bags of raw chemical products for industrial use, bags of agricultural products, wood boards, paper roll, crates or cases of spare parts and heavy equipment.

Prior to the shipment arrival at the port of unloading, the clearing agent or clearing agency will have to figure out the shipping company or shipping line (liner) that should be contacted at the port unloading with the aid of the shipment bill of lading document. Also in the process, find out the shed or warehouse where the shipment will be stored after it has been unloaded from the vessel.

Once the agency responsible for general cargo clearing process have figured out the port or terminal coupled with the shed, the next step is to submit the shipment document to the customs unit responsible for imported goods in order to initialize its entry and documentation process.

As soon as the customs documentation process has been initialized by the clearing agent or agency, the clearing agent would have to contact the shipping company or liner through which the goods were shipped. This is done in order to figure out the ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) of the vessel responsible for its carriage, this is because most general cargo shipments are expected to be delivered to their consignees without delay for further production, while on the other hand, some of these goods will require special unit and so must not exceed the time required for it to be stored in the shed or warehouse.

Another factor a clearing agent or agency must consider very important and serious is the ‘storage charges’ incurred by goods shipped as general cargo. These charges are generated in tons on a daily basis coupled with handling charges known as THC (Port or Terminal handling charges) which increases the cost of storage, unlike FCL and LCL shipments. So the clearing agent is expected to move quickly as soon as the vessel berths, while on the other hand, some shipments are to be delivered as soon as the port or terminal operator has begun the vessel’s unloading process, at this point, it’s – direct unloading and delivery.

Once you have figured out the ETA of the vessel, it is expected of the clearing agent to keep checking with the shipping company or liner in order to avoid ugly situations mentioned previously.


The next is to proceed with the customs documentation process, and at this point, customs would have to figure out if the shipment is contraband (CB) or dangerous goods. But if the shipment is not classified as illegal or prohibited products, then the agent can proceed with the customs documentation process. Customs in the process will figure out the value of the shipment with the aid of the bill of lading and the shipment commercial invoice.

Once the value of that shipment has been figured out, the agency or agent handling the clearing process will proceed immediately with customs examination or inspection coupled with the payment of the goods duty charges, however, at this point, some other government agencies will equally be involved for the inspection of such shipment. The examination or inspection of general cargo is usually given an urgent approach due to volume and its nature. And once the agent is done with the examination and the shipment duty charge have been paid, he or she can proceed with the customs release, and as soon that is done, the next step is to face the shipping and terminal release.


At this point, the shipping company or liner will request for the copies of the shipment documents as part of release requirement coupled with the shipping charges. And once the shipping charges have been paid, original copy of the shipment bill of lading coupled with other documents will be required by the shipping company or liner in order to effect the release of such shipment. And as soon as that is done and the shipping company have issued the clearing agent – the DO (delivery order), then the next and final stage is the terminal release.

At the terminal, the clearing agent will be required to pay the terminal charges, which entails the storage and handling charges billed in respect to the number of days the goods have been stored in the shed or warehouse. And once the charges have been paid, the administrative section of the terminal or port will require some of the shipment documents coupled with evidence of payment of terminal charges. If all is valid and the terminal operators are satisfied, the clearing agent will be issued TDO (Terminal Delivery Order) and with this, the shipment is set to be exited from the terminal.

Lastly on general cargo clearing is the gate verification and exiting process, also at this point, the clearing agent would have to present evidence of shipment release documents – the Customs Exit Note and Terminal Release Order. These documents will be verified by the customs and the officials of the terminal operator, and once they are satisfied, the shipment will be allowed to exit the terminal, Congratulation.

My next post on this will be based on RORO shipment clearing process.

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