A packing slip, also known as a shipping or packing list, is a document that lists all the items included in a shipment. It typically includes information about the dimensions, weight, SKU numbers and detailed descriptions of shipped goods.
◦ Order date, number and description of job
◦ Item SKU, descriptions and quantity
What is a Packing Slip Used For?
Packing slips are not legally required documents for shipping. However, they do help improve the accuracy and speed of fulfilling consignments, as detailed below.
Ensuring All Items Are in Order
Packing lists help warehousing professionals reduce mistakes that may occur during the picking and packing process. They also allow consignees to check that they have accurately received all the items they have ordered.
Estimating Shipment Value During Customs Clearance
During customs clearance, officers may use packing slips alongside commercial invoices to estimate the value of goods. This is done to calculate the taxes and duties due for the shipment. A detailed packing list may help speed up the process.
Identifying Any Damaged Items
The detailed list can help consignors and consignees identify any damaged items within a shipment more easily. This may help speed up the refund and return process if required.
Packing Slip Example
There is no fixed format for packing slips, but there are several main details that are good to include. If a freight forwarder (like M&P Freights) is hired, they typically review the document to ensure it is optimized to include all necessary information.
Below is a sample of a packing slip:
Important details that should be included are:
- Consignor’s name, address and contact details
- Consignee’s name, address and contact details
- Order date, order number and description of job
- Itemized list including the SKU, description and quantity of each shipped and out-of-stock item
Free Packing Slip Template
You may create your own packing slip or download a free template here (available in Word, Excel and PDF).
Difference Between Packing Slips and Other Shipping Documents
Packing slips are often compared to other shipping documents and materials such as the bill of lading, commercial invoice and shipping label. Here are their key similarities and differences.
Bill of Lading (BoL) vs Packing Slip
A BoL is a document that is legally required to be filled for freight to be transported. Both BoLs and packing slips contain information about goods that are to be shipped.
BoLs act as a contract between consignor and consignee for the shipment of goods. On the other hand, packing lists are optional and not legally binding; they mostly serve as a reference document.
Furthermore, packing lists contain a more detailed breakdown of shipped goods than BoLs.
Commercial Invoice vs Packing Slip
A commercial invoice is a legal contract between consignor and consignee, but is primarily used for the calculation of customs duties. These invoices and packing slips both contain detailed information about shipped goods.
Commercial invoices are legally required during the shipment of goods while packing slips are not. Additionally, the former contains more detailed information about the cost and payment method of a consignment while the latter does not.
Shipping Label vs Packing Slip
A shipping label is an identification label that details information such as package contents, consignee address and tracking barcodes. They are usually visibly pasted onto packages or containers.
While they contain similar information, shipping labels are primarily used by carriers to efficiently deliver goods. On the other hand, packing slips are mostly used by warehousing workers and consignees to ensure all items are in order.