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Shipping goods across countries or even continents can be daunting for many small businesses. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, you need to be organized and have all the necessary shipping documents in order.
A shipper’s letter of instruction (SLI) is an important trade document that provides key information to the carrier and other involved parties about what is being shipped. This document will be used as a reference point at all stages of the shipment process, so it’s critical that you fill it out correctly.
In this blog post, we'll explain what an SLI is, how to fill it out, and give you a downloadable template to make things easier.
What is a Shipper's Letter of Instruction (SLI)?
A shipper's letter of instruction is an indispensable shipping document that is created by the seller for the freight forwarder. It outlines what is being shipped, the origin and destination points, who is responsible for what aspects of the shipment process, what service levels are required, and what kind of payments will be accepted.
A shipper's letter of instruction serves several purposes:
- Provides transportation and documentation instructions — it instructs the freight forwarder on how and where to send cargo
- Provides limited power of attorney to the forwarding agent — grants the forwarding agent the ability to act on behalf of the shipper and submit Electronic Export Information (EEI) to the Automated Export System (AES)
- Eliminates miscommunications — as written proof of instructions provided for the goods to be shipped
- Streamlines document management — it contains all information on how the goods should be shipped from origin to destination, so instead of having separate conversations or sharing multiple documents, they can reference a single document
Having a shipper’s letter of instruction (SLI) on hand is optional but highly recommended, as it outlines what is being shipped and what is expected of the shipper and forwarder.
How to Fill out a Shipper's Letter of Instruction
When filling out your SLI, be sure to include the following:
- Shipper and consignee information — including names and addresses
- Forwarding agent — the name of the forwarding agent
- Freight charges — freight charges to be paid to the freight forwarder
- Shipping method — can be either sea, air, truck, or rail
- Type of shipment — can be either Full Container Load (FCL), Less Than Container Load (LCL), Full Truck Load (FTL), Less Than a Truck Load (LTL), Air, or Break Bulk
- Country of origin — the country where the goods were manufactured
- Country of destination — the country where goods will be finally delivered
- Port of loading and port of discharge — seaport or airport in respective loading and discharge locations
- Departure date — the date of delivery or handover
- Incoterms — specify which commercial term will be used
- Shipment details — what is being shipped, what are the measurements and weights of each package, what are the declared values, the kind of packaging, a UN number (if applicable), and HS codes
- Special instructions — any special instructions for shipment handling
- Name and signature of authorized signatories
Shipper's Letter of Instruction Template
To make it easier to create your SLI, you can use our shipper's letter of instruction template. The template is a PDF document that includes all the key requirements you need to fill out your SLI. All you have to do is enter all the details of your shipment, and you’re good to go.
Put an End to Your Paperwork Hassle
Creating a shipper's letter of instruction (SLI) is much like writing an in-depth letter that includes all the necessary details to accurately describe what is being shipped. It serves as a reference point throughout the entire shipping process, so it’s important to ensure that you fill it out completely and correctly.
Cargoflip makes it easy to create and manage your shipper's letter of instruction and any other export documentation you need. The process is completely automated so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
By entering your information once into our system, we'll populate all the required fields in your SLI and any other documents automatically. We'll also keep track of what's been done and what still needs to be done, so you can relax and let us take care of the rest.
Access our free shipping document templates, and put an end to your paperwork hassle.