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HomeBill of LadingWhat to do when there is a short shipment..??

What to do when there is a short shipment..??

What to do when there is a short shipment..??

This may leave some people puzzled at times.. Especially some questions like below asked by a reader in response to my post What is Short Ship and Short Land..??..

Question 1 : What would be the process when goods are short shipped or short landed?

Answer 1 : If there has been any short shipping then the obvious choice would be to find the next available ship and ensure that the cargo loads on that vessel so as not to incur additional costs..

In a lot cases of short shipments, the shipper or consignee are highly inconvenienced and some of them could lose their businesses – say for example if the cargo was meant for a show or exhibition or sale etc..

In lot of these cases, the shippers and consignees will reserve the right to hold the shipping lines liable for such short shipments..

Whether they get anywhere with holding the shipping lines liable is a story for another day..


Question 2If a BL has 5 containers can there be short shipment for 1 container i.e. not all containers are shipped?

If this is possible then what would happen to the documentation.

Answer 2 : Yes it is possible that 1 out of the total 5 could be short shipped..

Remember short shipment occurs due to various circumstances which are usually beyond the carriers control and is never done intentionally..

In such cases, the shipping line will issue a bill of lading only for the number of containers actually shipped, but in some cases, in order to comply with L/C or for customs purposes, it is allowed to note on the body of the bill that 1 container was short shipped and that container will now be loaded on such and such vessel (as long as carrier is certain that the container will be loaded)..


Question 3 : If the BL is PP then should the short shipped containers go with the same carrier.

Answer 3 : Yes, if it happens as above, the 1 container will have to be shipped on the next available vessel with the same carrier because the container already belongs to the same carrier and normally they don’t allow their container to go on any other line..

Unless of course that particular line doesn’t have a sailing within a reasonable time frame acceptable to the customer.. In such cases, the customer can approach the local origin customs to allow them to take the container out of the port and try to get it unpacked and repacked into another lines container which has an earlier sailing..

However, here there would be cost implications for the customer as the line that short shipped the box generally will not accept costs for such unpack/repack according to the terms of their bill of lading.. However, this will be reviewed by the line based on their commercial policies..


Question 4 : In air cargo part shipment goes on the same MAWB / HAWB combination but by same carrier but different flights, how would this be handled if there is no immediate vessel / voyage for it to be shipped.

Answer 4 : Covered in Question 3 above..


Question 5 : How are the short shipped consignment treated at the destination?

Answer 5 : With regards to documentation, as advised in question 2, the booking will have to be split and the bill of lading issued accordingly..

If the short shipment is known AFTER the bill has been issued and the vessel has sailed (yes this does happen), then the bill of lading will have to be split and the manifest will be amended with a manifest corrector showing the old shipment details and the new shipment details..


Trust this is helpful..

This post was originally posted on Nov 21, 2012 now re-posted with some updates..


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. in short shipment the remaining container has arrived but with different container number, what action should be taken by customs official?

  2. Hi Sir
    many thanks for yr help ,,, my question is what is the best for the short ship container Memo BL or Spilt and if Memo chosen by Client can he collected Delivery order with the old Document

  3. A,B,C three companies imported oil from one arabian company of different volumes
    Since oil was same,exporter filled entire quantity in one tank
    When ship arrived at As place ,it took delivery of its goods
    Similarly at another port ,B took delivery of its goods
    When ship arrived at Cs port, C took delivery of its goods but quantity was found short
    I am C , My goods were insured and bill of lading issued by ship show correct quantity
    C took steps against insurance company but claim was rejected on ground that exporter has certified that he loaded less quantity and insurance company therefore is not liable
    There are no documents to show whose quantity was less loaded by the seller/exporter.
    Combined Loaded quantity was short at the time of loading

    can u plzz tell me liability of insurance co. in this given case? kindly tell me with the help of any judgement.

  4. Good day Hareish

    I need some assistance please, what if there was a short supply on an LC shipment?

    This was only realized once the customer received the goods

    How does one proceed?


  5. Good Day – need some advise, we had a shipment that has been a total mess, vessel was delayed and when it eventually had to sail got damaged in storm, boxes was transship on different vessel and eventually sailed DBN, 1 week after sailing they discovered two boxes was left behind in terminal due to damaged twist locks. Vessel arrived at transshipment port and they shortshipped one container. We have asked carrier if they can merged the bill before entering china and they refuse. Please advise procedure.

    • Hello Maggie, in terms of their liabilities, a carrier will not be able to merge bills to accommodate short-shipments.. They could arrange for the first lot of containers to be held in storage (at the cost of cargo interest) at the transshipment port till the second lot comes in and eventually deliver the full lot together at destination.. But in terms of bills of lading, there will be split bills.. I don’t see any legal way around that..

  6. Hi, nice comments, feedback and issues which always helps.
    The question of customs clearance in case the supplier is not willing to split the invoice based on the short shipment which is on a FOB basis….
    We can clear the consignment by submitting proof from shipping line regarding the shortshipped container by settling the taxes at Customs if any on the whole consignment and customs clear the short shipped FOC.

  7. If you suffer loss as a result of short shipment, it is important to put the carrier on notice immediately you notice the shortage. This will later be useful if you choose to engage in recoveries against them.

  8. When there is short shipment then do we need to amend the invoice and reprint the invoice with actually shipped items and values?
    The same is required for closure of BRC and other purposes.

  9. In case of shortage in quantity (Example for BL shows quantity 1000 MT but consignee received 950 MT) found by customer at discharge port, what action should be taken by shipper/exporter? How the issue can be addressed and resolved with customer?

    • Hello Tushar, in terms of quantity, if it is containerised cargo, then line does not accept any liability because all container cargo are booked and loaded basis “SLAC“.. If bulk then the main document would be the Mates Receipt which should match with the bill of lading.. In that case, the consignee may have recourse against line if the discharged quantity varies from MR/BL quantity..

  10. Hello Guys,
    I have 1 shipment from Korea, there are 24 containers in 2 B/L, 1 B/L with 12 containers and another B/L with 12 containers, but now 3 containers were left behind at port from this two B/L’s which will come in another vessel, 2 containers from 1 B/L and 1 container from another B/L,

    1 ) so can we prepare only 2 B/L without separating these three containers which will arrive in another vessel, or do we have to prepare separate B/L, as we have only 1 set of documents for each B/L.

    2 ) How 1 B/L can be made including containers which will arrive in another vessel, is it possible ???.

    3 ) If 1 B/L can be issue for two diff vessel, then how shipping line will issue D/O, will they issue D/O only after the next vessel arrive ??.

    Please explain the above matter.

    • This is a good question and we faced same cases last year.
      We send cargo with 10 containers via 1 bl to India, unfortunately, 3 containers left at Port Kelang.
      We didn’t issue another HB/L for the rest containers, carrier shown all detail ( the reason of short shipped, container nos., next vessel name and voyage and ETA/POD) on their manifest and issued another bl for rested containers. Consignee wait the short shipped containers and DO with one HBL, two Carrier at destination.

  11. If out of 5 containers, one got shortshipped. But shipping line already issued the OBL for 5 FCL and is right now with the customer.
    Can the customer clear the cargo of 4 container and 1 container separately using the same OBL of 5 containers.

    • Hello Ashwin, that would depend on the country.. However, most country’s customs would allow this because this is a regular occurrence in shipping.. The shipping line can give you a short shipment notice or if there are any issues, client can split the bill of lading to 4/1..

  12. 2) for the short shipped container , can the line issue a Memo bill
    3) what if the next vessel is not same carrier but VSA exists

    • Hello Mahendra.. Memo bill exists only between shipping lines on a slot sharing basis and not for the customer.. As the bill of lading is issued only after the vsl sails, the bill of lading will show the actual vsl loaded.. If the carrier is part of the VSA, they can load on any of the partners vsls, they don’t need to wait for their own vsl..

  13. If you would have 3 iso containers booked for vessel A and one of the ISOs did not arrive to terminal on time causing the order to be split. So 2 Iso Containers left on vessel A and the 3rd iso leaves on vessel B.

    Could the Bill of Lading have the same Number? I had a carrier advise that the number would be the same – but I never heard of a carrier doing that before. Usually it would split two orders (maybe having the same bkg#) – but the BL # would not be the same.

  14. Yes! you have exhibited expertism in shipping processes. Short landing is common in both sea and air shipping. all in all you’ve answered one of the most commonly experienced in the industry.

  15. Well.. But there is a question, if 1 contnr short shipped from total 5.. and it has been planned to load on next vessel.. It can be managed and accepted by shippers and customer by arguing that it didnt happen intensionally but in fact it was out of control … Now let me say that those 4 container shipped out on 29th November MV.. And remain 1 container ( which is short shipped) has been planned to ship out on 6th December MV .. But if the carrier suspend its service for the POD from 1st December, then????? How it will be delivered????

    • Sudhir, in such cases, normally the carrier that has suspended its service will agree to hand over their container to another shipping line of the shippers choice that has the service to the destination.. Once the consignee has taken delivery of the container, the empty container will be returned to the original carrier..

  16. Dear Hareish,

    Thanks for the detailed and crystal clear answer. It clears all the queries. Very very helpful.

    Dewang Bhansali


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