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Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party: Understanding the Differences
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Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party: Understanding the Differences

July 14, 2023
Last Updated:
July 23, 2023
5 min read

Learn the differences between shippers, consignees, and notify parties, how each role contributes to a successful shipment, & understand their roles.

Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party: Understanding the Differences

Table of Contents

If you're involved in the shipping industry, you've probably come across the terms shipper, consignee, and notify party. While these roles may seem interchangeable at first glance, they each serve a distinct purpose in the world of logistics.

We’ll break down exactly what makes each distinct from one another, explore their importance in shipping, analyze their relationship dynamics, highlight practical examples, and provide tips for managing shipping documentation.

By the end, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of these roles and their significance in the shipping process.

Defining Key Terms: Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party


A shipper or an exporter is the person or company responsible for shipping goods from one place to another. They handle the logistics, make sure the proper paperwork is completed, and ensure the timely delivery of the products.

Shippers play a pivotal role in ensuring that the goods are packaged securely, comply with regulations, and are ready for transport. They hold the responsibility of providing accurate shipping documentation and bear the financial burden of freight charges and any associated taxes or export customs duties.


The consignee is the recipient or the party to whom the goods are ultimately being shipped. They are often the buyer or the designated recipient specified by the buyer. The consignee's role starts receiving the goods once they arrive at their destination port or designated location.

From inspecting the goods upon arrival to coordinating the final delivery, they're the ones who keep everything on track once the goods reach the agreed-upon location.

Notify Party

The notify party is someone who is informed by the carrier or freight forwarder about the shipment's arrival or any changes in its status.

The notify party is usually an intermediary or a designated by either the shipper or the consignee. They may not have any financial or legal interest in the cargo but are involved to expedite the flow of information. For instance, a notify party can be a customs broker, a freight forwarder, or even the buyer's agent. Their primary responsibility is to keep all relevant parties informed about the progress and location of the shipment.

Overall, the roles of shippers, consignees, and notify parties are interconnected and essential for the smooth and efficient movement of goods in the global supply chain.

The Importance of These Roles in Shipping

Each role – shipper, consignee, and notify party – plays a critical part in ensuring smooth shipping operations. By understanding their responsibilities and working together effectively, shipments can move efficiently from point A to point B.

Shippers, being responsible for the initial planning and preparation, must ensure that the goods are adequately packaged and comply with safety and regulatory standards. Their meticulousness directly affects the efficiency of the transportation process and minimizes any delays or disputes during transit.

Consignees, on the other hand, are instrumental in receiving and inspecting the goods upon arrival. Their attention to detail can prevent any potential issues or disputes and enable prompt resolution in case of discrepancies. This not only protects their own interests but also ensures trust and cooperation with the shipper and carriers for future shipments.

The Relationship Between Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party

In a typical shipping transaction, the shipper and consignee have a direct relationship wherein the shipper is responsible for sending the goods to the consignee. The consignee, in turn, receives and inspects the goods, completing the transaction.

While the shipper and consignee are the main players in a transaction, the notify party is the behind-the-scenes hero. They act as a communication bridge between both parties, ensuring a smooth and seamless transport of goods.

Not only does the notify party keep both sides updated on any issues, delays, or status changes, but they also help to resolve any problems that may arise throughout the shipping process. Think of them as the glue that holds everything together.

Example of Shipper, Consignee, and Notify Party Roles

To illustrate the roles of shipper, consignee, and notify party, let's consider a practical example involving a company exporting furniture to an overseas buyer. In this case, the furniture manufacturer acts as the shipper, responsible for packaging the goods securely and arranging transportation.

The overseas buyer, who has purchased the furniture, assumes the role of the consignee. They receive the goods, ensure their quality, and clear them through customs upon arrival.

As an intermediary, the freight forwarder or customs broker acts as the notify party. They inform the buyer and seller about the progress of the shipment, any changes in delivery schedules, or the need for additional documentation.

While we’re on the topic of shipping documentation in this scenario, each party has specific documents to handle.

Shipping Documents

The shipper, in this case, the furniture manufacturer, needs to prepare the Bill of Lading, which serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. They also need to produce a Commercial Invoice detailing the transaction between them and the overseas buyer. Additionally, they must provide a Packing List that describes the specifics of the shipment, including weight, dimensions, and package contents. Depending on the exporting country's regulations, they might also have to fill out an Export Declaration to declare the goods to customs.

The consignee, or the overseas buyer, will use the Bill of Lading to claim the goods from the carrier at the destination port. They also need the Commercial Invoice for customs clearance and to verify the details of the goods received against what they purchased. The Packing List is used to check the received goods against what was supposed to be shipped. Depending on the importing country's requirements, they may have to fill out an Import Declaration.

The notify party, likely a freight forwarder or a customs broker in this context, doesn't typically fill out any shipping documents. However, they might handle or coordinate the handling of the Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice, and Packing List if they're involved in the logistics or customs clearance process. If they are responsible for customs clearance, they might handle the customs clearance documents on behalf of the consignee.

The Distinct Responsibilities of Shipping Roles

Understanding the differences between shipper, consignee, and notify party roles is essential for anyone involved in the shipping industry.

Each role serves a distinct purpose, and their effective collaboration ensures a smooth flow of goods from the point of origin to the final destination.

By recognizing the responsibilities, legal implications, and potential conflicts that may arise, individuals and companies can navigate the shipping process with confidence.

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