Packing List in Shipping: All You Need to Know [+Template]

A packing list outlines the details of your freight, typically describing how a shipment is packed, the detail of the weight, as well as the dimensions of each item, crate, or pallet.

Whether you are importing or exporting, ensuring a packing list accompanies your shipment can save a significant amount of time and money during an inspection process.


When cargo arrives in Australia, goods undergo a thorough review by customs authorities. At any point, the Australian Border Force or the Department of Agriculture may unpack or inspect your cargo.

The Department of Agriculture, for instance, advises that, if you do not have certain documents accompanying your shipment, your cargo will need to be opened and inspected. Inspection fees apply if this occurs, and those fees are subject to the Department’s Charging Guidelines. Having a simple packing list can help to avoid the costs and delays associated with the inspection process.

Packing List Content

Your List should be accompanied by a commercial invoice that relates to your shipment (which can you read more about here). Your packing list should contain:

  • the name and details of the company that issued the packing list;
  • the details of the supplier and the purchaser;
  • a description of the goods, including their quantity;
  • the weight and measurements of each packing container;
  • the weight and measurements of the entire shipment, including the dimensions of each crate or pallet;
  • any marks or numbers specifically associated with the consignment; and
  • any special instructions or further information necessary for the shipment.

Final tips

Having a packing list with your shipment is useful for a range of reasons. These include:

  • using the list to reimburse under a letter of credit;
  • using it to support an insurance claim should your goods become lost or damaged; and
  • if your goods are hazardous, your packing list can support the issuance of a Material Safety Data Sheet.

Packing List Template 

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