Shipping documentation

To make sure your products get to their destination without delay, it’s essential to get your paperwork and shipping documentation right. It can be a bit confusing the first time but this page explains things step by step.

Export Cargo Shipping Instruction (ECSI)

An ECSI is your instruction to the international carrier you have appointed. It contains information on the goods, the route to their destination, any transport requirements, customs information, who is to receive the documentation, and an allocation of the costs. It is extremely important that the information provided in the ECSI is accurate.

Invoicing your customer

Your invoice should include standard invoice details plus a full description of the goods, including:

  • Item price
  • Net weight (in kilos)
  • The country of origin
  • HS code
  • EORI and/or VAT number

Customs authorities use the commercial invoice to verify the details of the consignment. It is good practice to include on your invoice a signed and dated declaration that the stated facts are true and correct.

Some countries have specific requirements regarding the layout, format or content of the invoice. Check with your carrier to establish if there is any special wording or clause that you should include on the invoice.

Harmonised System (HS) codes

Harmonised System Codes (also known as Commodity Codes) enhance product descriptions, ensuring accuracy at the time of import and export. HS codes provide products with a unique classification code. Significantly, these codes are also used to determine the duty and local taxes applicable at destination.

Many destinations now insist on HS codes being quoted on commercial invoices. You should treat this classification as part of your product description when completing your shipping documentation. Visit TARIC to help you classify your product or contact Irish Revenue directly at

Export Packing List

Attached to the outside of the package to be shipped. This specifies the weight, volume and type of cargo.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

The B/L provides evidence of the contract between yourself and your carrier. It acts as a receipt that the goods have been received into the custody of the carrier and is a document of title, allowing the ownership of the goods to be temporarily transferred while the goods are in transit. The B/L will be usually completed by your international carrier.

Sea Waybill (SWB)

The SWB is similar to the B/L but it does not provide title of goods. It allows the goods to be collected by your customer or agent upon presentation of reasonable proof of identity, so reducing any possible delays at ports.

Air Waybill (AWB)

The AWB is the equivalent of the SWB for shipments being transported by air. It is completed by you for your international carrier and travels with the goods. It details the basic information about your shipment, including where it’s being sent from and to, the weight and a brief description of the goods.

The Waybill is your shipment’s ticket and passport to ensure delivery.

It tells DHL where your shipment is going, what service you require and how you intend to pay. It also tells you the terms and conditions upon which we provide our service, please read these carefully as they limit and in some cases exclude our liability. Each one has a unique number giving you proof of consignment which you can use on our website to track your shipment.

Finally, it tells customs what’s in your shipment so that it gets cleared quickly and speeds through to its final destination without delay.

  1. Payer account number
    For payment of transportation charges by the receiver or a 3rd party, please be sure to enter the payer’s account number. If you do not indicate a payer account number, charges will be automatically invoiced to the shipper’s account number. To arrange for insurance, please indicate the insured value of your shipment.
  2. Shipper’s account number
    To charge the shipment to your DHL account, enter your account number here. If you do not have an account, please contact DHL Customer Services to arrange for one. Please note that a shipper’s account number may be required when either a receiver or 3rd party payment option has been selected.
  3. Contact name
    Write the sender’s name (the first initial and the full last name will suffice).
  4. Shipper’s reference
    Fill in your own reference number. This will appear on your DHL invoice (first 12 characters only), saving you time in clarifying what was sent, why it was sent and who sent it.
  5. Shipper’s name and address
    Write your company name and department and complete address. A telephone/fax number or email address is required.
  6. Receiver’s address
    Fill in the company (or individual) name and complete address including postcode, country, and contact person’s name. A telephone/fax number or email address is required. NOTE: DHL cannot deliver to a P.O. Box number.
  7. Shipment details
    Fill in the number of pieces in your shipment, the total weight rounded up to the nearest half kilo, and size of each piece in centimetres (length x width x height).
  8. Full description of contents
    Give an exact description of the contents and quantities.
  9. Non-documents shipments only
    For quick and reliable export of declarable items, DHL needs precise information on the characteristics of the export including actual value of the goods plus whether it’s the receiver or shipper that is to pay for the destination duties/taxes.
  10. Products and services
    Tick the box next to the service and service options you require. If “Other” is selected, please specify the required service in the space provided. Please check with DHL Customer Services for product and service availability.
  11. Shipper’s signature
    The air waybill must be signed and dated by the sender