What is a Shippers Letter of Instruction

What is a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction?

Document management is one of the many organization hassles of running a business. While the Shipper’s Letter of Instruction can seem like another optional, time-consuming pain-in-the-neck to fill out, the truth is, the document can drastically improve efficiency and decrease the risk associated with your shipments.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction: What Is It?

The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction, otherwise known as an SLI, is a shipping document that basically establishes best practices for your freight forwarder and how and where they should handle your shipments. Here are a few things the SLI does:

Authorized Agent

Unless you plan on handling the shipment yourself without a freight forwarder, you need a shipping vendor to act on your behalf.

A Shipper’s Letter of Instruction authorizes a freight forwarder to act on your behalf in regard to a shipment. That means all U.S. export control and customs will be the responsibility of your freight forwarder.

Export Information

The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction contains all necessary information for filing EEI (Electronic Export Information) as detailed in the Foreign Trade Regulations.

The SLI also acts as a request for export documents prepared by your freight forwarder or NVOCC, which includes the entire EEI extract, other export control documentation, and the associated Bill Of Lading with the shipment.


Lastly, a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction is important from the standpoint of accountability. You are supplying your freight forwarder with all information pertaining to your export shipment. That is a written record of instructions – you have documentation of who received the shipping documents, who should be contacted for any questions, who has the proof of export, and who issued the export documentation that sends your products overseas.


The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction is an incredibly important document. It keeps your freight forwarder accountable by the sheer act of defining all contract details, proof of export, and document issuance. It also allows your freight forwarder to act of behalf of you as an authorized agent, and contains all information necessary for filing EEI as required by the Foreign Trade Regulations.

Our team at Interlog USA would love to answer any additional questions you might have. We also have a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction on our Website you can download. Feel free to reach out to us anytime or chat with our chat bot – Johnny Cargo!



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