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Who is a notify party in a shipment and what is their role..??

Re-posted with some updates and adding some links

Some time ago I was asked this question regarding the role and obligation of a Notify Party in a shipment..

In my previous multi-part article regarding the Parts of a Bill of Lading, I had mentioned below :

Notify – is the name and address details of the person who should be notified of the arrival of the cargo..

Depending on the bill of lading that is issued this could be the actual buyer or receiver of the goods, clearing and forwarding agent or the trader..

Who is a Notify PartyThe Notify Party is merely someone that needs to be notified about the arrival of the cargo covered in the bill of lading..

The details of the notify party are provided in the shipping instruction submitted to the shipping line.. There may or may not be a relationship between consignee and notify party or shipper and notify party..

All bills of lading show the details of shipper/consignee/notify party.. It is important to remember that the information mentioned in the consignee column of the bill of lading determines who secures release of the cargo, who the cargo must be delivered to..

The permutation and combination of how the bill of lading maybe consigned, what is a duly discharged bill of lading and endorsements required on a bill of lading has been discussed at length in this blog..

Instances of who can be shown as Notify Party on a bill of lading could be :

  1. Actual receiver of the cargo may be shown as the notify party in instances where a bill of lading is consigned To Order, so that they are aware when the shipment is expected to arrive at destination..
  2. Agent of the consignee who could be either a Freight Forwarder or a Clearing Agent who is nominated by the receiver of the cargo to arrange for the receiving, clearance and delivery of the cargo..
  3. Trader or indenting agent that brokered the deal/shipment and who would like to keep a track of the shipment..
  4. Any other entity that has an interest in knowing the arrival and delivery of the shipment and may have a direct or indirect interest in the system..

However, most of the shipping lines, especially the ones that operate a Liner Service do not accept any liability for failure to notify and this clause is shown on the Page 1 (Terms & Conditions of the Bill of Lading – Yes that is Page 1) and also overleaf in the Notify Party field..

Examples of such clauses as below :

  • The Carrier, his Agents and servants shall not in any circumstances whatsoever be under any liability for failure to notify the Consignee of the arrival of the Goods, any custom of the port to the contrary notwithstanding.
  • Any mention in this Bill of Lading of parties to be notified of the arrival of the Goods is solely for information of the Carrier. Failure to give such notification shall not subject the Carrier to any liability nor relieve the Merchant of any obligation hereunder.

Notify party on bill of lading

The main responsibility of a Notify Party is to receive the Arrival Notification from the shipping line and take further steps such as arranging a customs clearance agent to do the clearance with customs, and if the cargo is covered under LC to follow up with the banks regarding the receipt of the documents in case it is not received in time..

As much as the term Notify Party would mean someone that has to be notified, the Notify Party also has a responsibility to check on the whereabouts of the cargo and follow up on the same and not rely on the shipping line to notify them..

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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. Dear Sir,
    I have a question relating to Switching of BLs -for the 1st Leg BL.
    Normally Intermediatory party is shown as consignee on 1st BL. My question is that Can we make 1st BL as below:
    1. Consignee is “To Order”
    2. 1st Notify is the Intermediatory buyer
    3. 2nd Notify is the final receiver of the goods.

    • Hi Rajeev what would be objective of the Switch Bill of Lading..?? Normally objective is to hide the true parties behind the trade transaction.. But here you are showing them as the 2nd Notify..

  2. Sir,
    Im a trader from Dubai . My client asked to ship the material directly from the manufacturer back from India to him but he want invoice from my dubai company and he will make payment also to dubai company . He is requesting this to save 5% import duty being a manufacturer. So will I be a notifying party or how does it works. can u pls advise

  3. Dear Team

    Does the Booking Party has authority to hold OBL and not give to Shipper or Consignee?
    if Shipper is reaching shipping Line and proves that all dues are paid and booking party is holding OBL and not releasing, will carrier has authority to reissue or release goods or id booking party has the OBL they have authority to keep it?

  4. Hi Harish,
    We are a forwarder Co and we hire a marketing person and the marketing person without informed us book the shipment by coordination with consignee with line and the line was issued the BL. and our company name was not indicate in BL, also there is not any contract with consignee and forwarder (our Co.) also there is not a contract with us and line. on the other hand this market person has not sent the arrival notice to consignee. and by chance we informed of this shipment, and now the consignee claim our co for demurrage, Is they can claim us for demurrage of not sent the arrival notice by this marketing person to them? Is the email is sufficient since there is not contract? also the line prepared an Invoice direct to consignee but didn’t indicate us in their invoice.
    would you Please help me in this case?


  5. Normally the carrier would send arrival notice to the pointed staff of consignee by email. Once time the pointed staff was on holiday, she set up auto reply to everyone. The carrier still sent the arrival notice to her caused the container stayed the wharf over 1 week and high penalty. Who should be responsible for it ? Will the consignee can claim the penalty from .

  6. Hi Harish

    Please clarify , if notify part has to be a company from the Port of Destination where the cargo is heading to, Or Can we use a company which is based from port of loading.

    To be more clear, for example, I am sending a shipment from UAE to INDIA. I have a shipper from uae company, can i use another uae company to be as a notify party in the bill of lading.


  7. If we have an airfreight shipment and AWB is issued with shipper, consignee and notify party. Consignee is not registered as an Importer. In this case, Can the notify party be mentioned as consignee in cusdec and get the shipment released?

  8. We have mentioned two notify party in our performa invoice against an amount received in advance for export ,amount has been made by one of mentioned notify party , our bank is not crediting the fund to our account as because they are claiming that exporter can’t mentioned more than one notify party and asking us to go through RBI guidelines. i request to provide any statutory link which can certify that their is no such limit for notify party disclosure.

  9. If shipper urgently need to use a different clearing agent which is different from notify party in BL, are there any alternatives than changing notify party in bl?

  10. Good day,
    we (consignee) are working with different port forwarders in one and the same port of arrival. The corresponding port forwarder is normally mentioned as notify party. My question is, if we would decide on a short term to change port forwarder for a certain shipment, there is no need to change notify party on the documents, right? The “wrong” notify party would receive an arrival notice, but as long as we release the cargo to the right port forwarder all should be fine. Is that correct?

    • Hi Johnny, the notify party has no legal claim on the cargo or its release.. But to avoid confusion, you should communicate the change in information to the shipping line at the earliest.. Even if they don’t change the bill of lading, they should at least be aware of this change..

  11. Dear Sir,
    Good day,
    I want to ask what are the powers of the notify on the bill of lading. Is it only to remind him of the arrival of the shipment or has other powers, for example, when i selling the shipment, he can control the shipment and not allowed to release it with exchanging sum of money? Or have any control else?

    • Hi Maytham, legally and technically the notify party has no powers over the shipment other than just being notified.. However, in a lot of cases, the notify party is the actual receiver of the goods and therefore they will be following what happens to their shipments..

    • Thanks for your reply,
      I want to put in notify Party:
      A. Clearance Company. ( Same as consignee)
      B. my agent.
      my question about (B). My agent they haven’t any powers just to know the Shipment arrival right?

  12. Dear Sir,
    Good day!
    Regarding the Dg shipment(Vehicle Battery), Our supplier requires the EPC approval for shipment moving. But we cannot provide EPC approval as we don’t have store chemical license. Therefore we would like to import this shipment in named another company which they have a valid chemical store license.
    Regarding documentation part. we would like to import this Dg consignment in named as another company name and notify as actual consignee on all documents(BL, Invoice,COO, Packing list).Please note that Proforma invoice mentioned as actual consignee name.
    As per supplier advice, They don’t allow to ship this consignment if mention the consignee name of another company on all documents. Also, it will be effected on payment terms as per Incoterms.
    is it true?
    If it is true, let me know the exact solution for DG shipment importing.

    It will be great If you could respond at the earliest.

    With best regards
    Doha, Qatar.

  13. Hello, need to know in original bill’s of lading consignee as Actual consignee and Notify as Bank , then the shipping agent can release the consignment against 1 shipper /cnee endorsed bills of lading.

  14. Hello,

    I desperately need some advice. I ordered some goods from China to be sent to USA when it got sent I had 4 items so 2 items got delivered and the 2 was being held for custom approval. Now for almost 2 months I didn’t hear anything from FDA and they wouldn’t talk to me because the company I used to ship my goods are the main point of contact on their system.

    And everytime I contacted the shipping company all they kept saying to me is ‘just wait it’s pending’. I was not convinced that was the case so I did some research and digging around and found out that the items that was being held at FDA was approved but they could not release them because for some reason the 2 items that was delivered should’ve actually been held with the shippers and they shouldn’t have shipped them out. I was not aware of that so I was told I need to send back those 2 items back to FDA but the issue is those items have already been sold to customers so FDA said their will be a penalty to pay which is 4x times of what the goods initially cost! Of course this is not my fault as the courier service are the ones who delivered the goods even though custom didn’t approve it.

    So I contacted the shipping company and spoke to one of the employee about the error that was made and wanted advice on what to do next. I mentioned to him 2 goods was delivered when it shouldn’t have been his response was ‘yeah that shouldn’t have been delivered’ then when I said there’s a penalty charge of doing that then he said ‘yes you should pay that’ of course I said ‘no you are responsible for the mistake so you are liable to pay’ Well his reaction was disgusting he start shouting at me down the phone telling me why am I calling people asking about my products and how it is my fault that the other two items got delivered then he just hang the phone up on me! I have never experienced such unprofessional manner from any company. Now I don’t know what to do as FDA won’t talk to me and only to the shipper. Please can anybody advice me on this? I can’t get my other goods released without sending the two products which has been already shipped and is already selling.

  15. hello dears

    in a contract with “door to door” conditions and our company appears as a Notify Party. if we have demurrage and detentions, these extra costs should be paid by our company? or shipping lines? or maybe customer?
    if i am not mistaken, we are a notify party, they should inform us about the arrivals and “try” to avoid any extra costs, could be?

    many thanks and best regards

  16. Does the “notify party” have any legal obligation/liability for payment of ocean freight, storage, etc if the consignee or the shipper does not pay the shipping line? We are Customs brokers. The foreign shipper listed us as the Notify Party. Now MSC wants to hold us liable for payment because the shipper abandoned the cargo, didn’t pay ocean freight, storage charges, etc. Are we legally liable?

  17. Dear Hariesh,

    Is it true that if you have more than one notify party (say two for example), only the first one will be contacted?

    Also, would that be an offence to the consignee if you put yourself in the notify party so that you know when container was discharged etc…?

    We thank you so much for this useful information.


    • Hello Christian, in terms of notify party there is no hard and fast rule on the number, although the maximum I have seen is 2.. It is the line’s prerogative to contact either 1 or 2 or NONE of the notify party mentioned in the field..

      There no legal issues to the consignee or anyone else if you put yourself as the notify.. Trust this helps..

  18. hello gentleman’s. This is prabu from India. I want to know that which type of “EDI” will be suitable for “HERBALS Exporting and ARCHITECTURAL SERVICE Exporting” business. If any one has interested to clarify my doubts. plz tell me.

  19. Dear Hariesh
    I work in forwarding company in Iran.
    once, our company was notify party on the B/L, the carrier agent in Iran didn’t give us the arrival notice!!!
    and they insisted on their decision.
    are they right????????

  20. There are several instances where the consignee and the notify party are the same. In the case of banks being the consignee or the consignee reading” TO ORDER” the notify party usually is the actual consignee.

  21. What happens if the goods are not custom cleared by cnee and demurrage and detention charges have accumulated for say more than 1year now.

  22. I have an dispute with our Indonesia clearance agent. This is 3rd country sales arrangement whereby
    Shipper on BL is China company
    Seller (shipping invoice) is Singapore company
    Cnee on BL is Indonesia company

    According to Indonesia side, this shipment is under Form E arrangement and due to the new format of Import declaration custom form in Indonesia, custom require exporter stated on BL must same as shipper stated on BL. (Initially shipper on BL is the Singapore company).

    Due to this issue, Singapore company do not have any shipping document (BL) to support and as evidence of export. Therefore, we are putting Singapore company as notify party, however Indonesia clearance agent said the notify party must be Indonesia company.

    Is there any issue to show notify party is out of Indonesia?

    • Nathalie, irrespective of where the notify is based, they are not a contracted party to the contract of carriage.. The role of the notify party is just that.. To receive notification of the shipment.. Nothing else..

    • As far as I know the Notify Part if referring to final destination. If your cnee/buyer/importer is in Indonesia and Indonesia company should figure on BL

  23. I am in Pakistan.
    My buyer (consignee) is in INDONESIA. and he already sent ma ADVANCED PAYMENT from INDONESIA.
    But he wants shipment in SINGAPORE. He gave me a NOTIFY PARTY (SINGAPORE) for this purpose.

  24. Dear Hariesh,

    I have a question related the consignee field on the ocean Bill of Lading. Who should be mentioned there when my company sells to Company A (Bill to on the Invoice) but goods should be shipped to an different company (Ship to on the Invoice).

    Should be the Bill to from our Invoice = consignee of the Bill of Lading or can it also be the final recipient (ship to)?
    Currently we think it should be the Bill to of our Invoice which should be the named consignee as the consignee on the B/L hast eh possession of the goods after arrival upon presentation of a original bill of lading to the carrier.

  25. @ Chetan,
    I have same experince with you :
    Party ( India) is Buyer —— > Vietnam
    Party ( UK ) is seller ——> Japan
    Party ( Holland ) is shipper ———–> Indonesia ( My Side )

    I have shipped 4 ctnrs to above Buyer. First and second use LC, 3rd and 4th shipment use TT.
    LC issued by Seller / Japan side to me (Indonesia). The Cargo shipped to Vietnam.
    In this circumstances I think “NOT BL must follow the LC” but ” The LC must follow the flow of the Cargo”

    My BL become :
    Seller :
    My Company / Indonesia

    Consignee :
    Vietnam Buyer

    Notify party :
    same as consignee

    The Japan Seller not involved in the BL

    Flow of The Shipping Documents as flws :
    I (Indonesia) submitt all documents as per LC to my bank for negotition
    and then my bank send these to Japan Bank.
    Japan bank send these docs to Applicant (Japan)
    and finally Applicant (Japan) will couriered all the shipping docs to Vietnam for release the cargo.

    Thank you,

  26. We are making shipments to a new market and are utilizing a freight forwarder to safeguard our exposure to a new customer. The shipments are made on CAD basis and no L/C is involved. The format we are following is:

    Shipper = Freight forwarder on a/c of actual shipper
    Consignee = Freight forwarder counterpart
    Notify = blank

    Shipper = Actual shipper
    Consignee = Local bank
    Notify = blank

    Once the customer makes full payment, the HBL is endorsed by bank in his name. However, the issue we are facing is that the payment is coming a few after vessel reaches so the manifest needs to be amended to the customer’s name first which takes time and costs money. This is damaging our relationship. Reason for not stating customer name in MBL is so that manifest is not filed under his name as otherwise we will require NOC from customer to call back container.

    Are there any suggestions on how to avoid this or expedite without increasing our risk?

  27. Hi there,

    can we have more than one party under notify party in the B/L?

    Notify Party

    XXXX (Consignee)

    XXXX (Shipment Clearing agent)

    On this note, I would like to check is it the producer’s responsibility or buyer’s responsibility to update the carrier on the list of recipients for the NOA? I’ve encountered on several occasions where shipping line has informed they sent the NOA but we did not receive it.

    Many thanks for the advice!

  28. Sir

    We would appreciate if you would kindly clarify our query.

    Party ( India) is Buyer
    Party ( UK ) is seller
    Party ( Holland ) is shipper.

    Party (India) has to make payment to Party UK
    and Party UK has to make payment to Party Holland.

    Party Holland will ship the goods direct to party India on instructions of Party UK.

    In such case How the B/L will be made ?

    Reference to the above
    Is Party UK – consignor
    or it will be mentioned on B/L as ” To order of – Notify Party ”

    Is Party Holland shipper or consignor ?

    Party India is consignee
    Party India has to make payment to UK Party.

    Please advise in such case how the B/L will be made.
    Thanks for your cooperation.


    Whose names would be mentioned ?

    Notify Party

  29. Hi,
    I have an issue/dispute going on between a freight forwarder we are using, and our broker. Under normal circumstances, any freight forwarder we use sends an arrival notice to the broker, but on a recent shipment, there were issues receiving the notice from the shipping line. In this particular incidence, the freight forwarder put the broker as the notify party, and therefore expected the broker to follow-up with the shipping line regarding arrival. Our broker tells me that since the freight forwarder is our agent, that it is the freight forwarder’s responsibility. The broker also indicated that freight forwarders should always make provisions to receive the arrival notice on time so their will be no delay. Please note that our broker not only handles our customs in this instance but also truck shipping from the local rail.

    What I’m trying to figure out is how do we ultimately determine where the actual responsibility falls.

    Thank you

    • Hello Lacie, as I have mentioned in this post,

      Notify – is the name and address details of the person who generally should be notified of the arrival of the cargo..

      Depending on the bill of lading that is issued this could be the actual buyer or receiver of the goods, clearing and forwarding agent or the trader..

      Generally the notice of cargo arrival is to be sent to this notify party..

      In this case, the broker has been shown as the Notify Party and therefore the shipping line would have sent them the notification..

      Generally, the broker doesn’t follow up on such things unless he is asked to.. I am not sure if the FF informed the broker that they have been shown as the notify on the bill.. If they had been notified and asked to follow up on the shipment, then the responsibility lies with the broker..

      As your agent, however the FF should have followed up with the line and the broker to check if everything is in order with the shipment.. They cannot just waive responsibility based on the fact that the broker has been shown as the Notify Party..

      Both should be responsible as they both have handled your shipments previously and they should know your patterns.. Also as you mentioned, your broker does your transportation as well, so he could have also followed up..

  30. Hi All,


    Is it allowed that a bank be the consignee and also the notify party in case the shipment is LC based?


  31. Normally the carrier would send arrival notice to the pointed staff of consignee by email. Once time the pointed staff was on holiday, she set up auto reply to everyone. The carrier still sent the arrival notice to her caused the container stayed the wharf over 1 week and high penalty. Who should be responsible for it ? Will the consignee can claim the penalty from the carrier?

  32. Hello there,

    I had a shipment sent by a shipper where the consign/Consignee had made me a notify party as the destination customs broker on the line BL. Cargo arrives and after we as notify party had customs cleared and safely delivered shipment to Consignee.

    Upon destination customs demand, the local shipper,s representative who was never a party in the shipment BL consign age sends all shipments documents to customs without recourse or informing the Consignee or the notify party. In this case, can the notify party press charges for breach of confidentiality? Can damages be claimed? Is the right thing to do in the first place?

    Thanks to revert with your clarifications pls.


    • Should a cargo consolidator whose name appears on the line BL as Consignee be held liable even when and after the ultimate Consignee has shown himself to the line as the owner of a longstanding containers?


    • Hi Diamond, whoever is shown as the consignee on the bill of lading has the liability to clear and release the cargo.. If the consignee is a cargo consolidator and is not the actual and final owner of the recipient of the cargo, then they must transfer the bill of lading to the actual owner or recipient or their nominated agent as per their instruction, provided of course the bill of lading is a negotiable and transferable bill of lading..

      If the bill of lading issued is a straight bill of lading, there is no option for the bill to be transferred and the responsibility to clear and release the cargo lies with the consignee..

    • Hi Diamond, a notify party on a bill of lading is just what the term means “a party that needs to be notified about a shipment”.. The notify party has no legal obligations or authority over the cargo..

      In this case mentioned, Customs chose to ask details to the shippers representative and they chose to forward the details.. Sure the shippers rep could have contacted you or the consignee as a matter of courtesy, but legally they are not obligated to.. So I don’t think your case will stand up in court unless there are provisions for such issues in the law of your land.. If you want to be doubly sure, I suggest you seek legal counsel in your country..

  33. Hi everyone!
    IF say a forwarder is shown as Notify party on direct Bill of lading (straight from shipper to consignee).
    The ocean freight was paid directly by shipper to ocean line at origin.
    The notify party notifies shipper and thier customs broker of vessel arrival and availablity of cargo, when the boat arrives at destination. .
    IS THE NOTIFY PARTY LIABLE FOR PORT WAREHOUSE FEES AND DEMURRAGES – if the consignee does not pull containers out from port on time or return containers back to ocean port on time?

  34. Notify Party is the person or company to be advised by the carrier upon arrival of the goods at the destination port.Thanks for the info! I learned a lot from this article.

  35. Hi!

    I have to upload shipping instructions on a liner’s portal where there are two data fields for notify party details ie. First Notify Party & Second Notify Party.

    The carriage is by “Seaway Bill” and the buyer has not clarified any requirement of a notify party. I have mentioned buyer as the first notify party and left the second notify party as blank.

    My question is: “Under what circumstances the liner expects two notify parties?” and “Will a second notify party other than consignee make any difference in cargo release under Seaway Bill?”


    • Hi Mahesh, the lines portal could be providing this option for 1st and 2nd notify party IF REQUIRED, as there are cases where some customers require more than 1 notify to the shown on the bill of lading..

      However the line is not obligated to notify one or all of them as per their terms and conditions in general as I have mentioned in the post..

      I presume you are acting as a freight forwarder and if that is the case you should be careful when you say “buyer has not clarified any requirement of a notify party. I have mentioned buyer as the first notify party and left the second notify party as blank.

      This means that you have taken the responsibility of providing the shipping instructions to the shipping line which is a risk on your part.. The instructions should come from the shipper to you..

      Liner has no expectations with regards to details provided on the bill of lading.. The line does not know who the shipper, consignee or notify are (until it is shown on the bill of lading) and they will go by what is declared by the booking party..

      The line only requires that the cargo and the weights are same as what has been booked otherwise it will be considered a mis-declaration.. It makes no difference to the shipping line who is shown as the consignee or the notify..

      This is true whether the bill is an Original Bill or a Seaway Bill..


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