Pre Shipment Inspection: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Pre shipment inspection is part of quality practice you must undertake when importing from China or any other country.

That’s why this guide explores all the fundamental aspects you need to know about pre shipment inspection.

From, basic to advanced concepts, you will learn everything about pre shipment inspection here.

Let’s dive right in.

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What is a Pre Shipment Inspection?

Pre shipment inspection - photo courtesy

Pre-shipment inspection – Photo courtesy

This is a process in which traders partake in to ensure the goods adhere to quality assurance procedures.

Buyers, sellers as well as agencies engage in this process before any export or import expedition.

Not only do the products undergo defects check, they also undergo legality check.

Right import documentation and export documentation is as well double checked to ensure they are correctly available.

What is the need of a Pre Shipment Inspection?

  • Pre-shipment inspection is necessary to prevent cases of overpricing or in rare cases underpricing. This is because the inspection serves to ensure the price of the exporter, reflects the true value of the goods.
  • To ensure that no defective merchandise is shipped.
  • Additionally, pre-shipment inspection provides an avenue where traders can legally escape custom duties payment.
  • The inspection also ensures that substandard goods do not get to arrive in their country. This involves checking the quality and quantity of goods in the shipment.
  • The inspection also ensures that the goods under shipment adhere to safety requirements before consumption.
  • Last but not least, the pre shipment inspection is a requirement to possess for import and export ventures in some countries.

When is Pre Shipment Inspection required?

Pre Shipment inspection (PSI) is a mandatory requirement for most countries undertaking imports and exports.

This is most prevalent in developing countries.

As a result, for a certain value of goods, a PSI should accompany the goods.

For example, in Kuwait, goods above $3000 should have a pre shipment inspection.

However, in other countries it is a must for all goods on import to undergo a PSI despite the value of goods.

For instance, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait require a PSI for a small number of products.

Which type of Products must be inspected before Shipment?

A PSI is mandated to guarantee quality assurance on all goods under shipment.

This includes the following goods.

  • Foods and beverages
  • Textiles
  • Steel
  • Automotive
  • Additional in the event of importing illegal goods, a PSI at this point is necessary.
  • Illegal goods include;
  • Narcotic drugs
  • Harmful gases
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Antiquities

For most countries, they have outlined a list of prohibited goods.

It is wise to check with the country`s website in order to bring on board a PSI in case it is urgent.

Who performs a Pre shipment Inspection?

Pre shipment inspection is carried out by private organizations.

There are a number of them available hence if the need for inspection arises, you can choose from one.

In some other countries, there are usually a dominant inspection agency mandated by the government to do the procedure.

Additionally, the costs pertaining the exercise might be covered either individually or by the government.

However, any services required for your goods are the responsibility of the seller.

What is Pre Shipment Inspection Procedure?

A pre shipment takes place when a PSI agency receives an invoice to undertake the procedure on certain goods.

It is then thereafter that the agency sends an invoice to the involved parties to highlight on the location and time.

The following steps explain the procedure of a pre shipment inspection

  • There is usually an import license or document from the importer. It is first opened to get an overview of what is under inspection.
  • Following the PSI inspection, the importer makes a quick notice to th country of import of impending possible delays. Thereafter, a service charge is paid to the PSI agency depending on the terms and conditions of the firm
  • Thereafter, the order is as well made available to the inspection office in the country of export as well.
  • The firm the makes contact to the exporter to make arrangements to facilitate the inspection procedure. This includes setting up the date, time and venue of the inspection.

Additionally, the exporter should avail the necessary documents, including the shipping documents and invoices.

Time is of essence, so the documents should be made available as soon as possible to avoid penalties.

  • After the above procedures are in place, the inspection procedure commences.
  • After the inspection, a final report is provided. The final report depends on the findings from the inspection.

In the event that your shipment bears no discrepancies, a ‘clean report findings ‘is made available.

The report will confirm the value of the shipment, customs and clearance.

This is subject to the availability of documents from the exporter and importer.

Additionally, the documents in this case vary by the contract.

Nonetheless, the clean report findings include a final invoice, bill of lading or an airway bill.

  • After the whole process is complete, shipping can now commence to the importing country.
  • Once the goods arrive to the importer, the report from the inspection serves as a gate pass for the goods.
  • In the event the goods arrive without the inspection report, they are subject to being returned for a re-export. Otherwise heavy penalties will be unavoidable.

What Analytical Methods are used in Pre shipment Inspection and what Parameters are Tested?

 Pre shipment inspection check list

Pre shipment inspection check list

Order Placement

This procedure serves to ensure better quality control for goods for clients.

However, it is not mandatory for most common goods.

Nonetheless, as a client, if need arises, you can do order placement for your goods.

However, for special cases like medical equipment’s, an inspection is carried out.

Inspector On Site

The inspector simply ensures everything goes according to the procedure.

In case of no complications, the procedure will be to the latter.

Order Placement

Additionally, this involves settling on a venue where the inspection will take place.

This can be at the manufacturer or the supplier’s warehouse.

For toxic and harmful merchandise, an off-site inspection area is most preferable.

Quantity Check

This involves checking the boxes are fully present.

The Items as well should be correct and available.

Also, the agency ensures that the destination, as well as the package, is ready and safe for shipment.

Randomized Sampling

It is a method that ensures that good quality on merchandise.

The inspector uses a certain statistical sampling procedure to pick several items from the shipment.

The number of times he picks is defined as the Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL).

The statistical procedure used by most agencies is the ANSI/ASQC Z1.4 (ISO 2859-1).

The AQL is offered to the agency by the manufacturer or importer and the customer.

Visual Check

Involves checking any defaults especially mechanical ones.

Usually, these defaults occur during the production of the good.

The defaults can be absent screws or gaps in between parts of a good.

Volumetric Verification

Here the physical attributes are being checked.

They include height, length, width, color, weight, markings, and labeling.

These aspects are compared against those from the client`s description.

Functionality Verification

A small test is run to ensure that the goods, in the case of machinery especially, are able to function efficiently.

Safety Test

This applies to electrical and mechanical appliances.

For mechanical goods, safety entails checking hazards such as sharp edges.

Moreover, moving parts are under check as well to ensure they are not stuck and can move efficiently.

Additionally, events that can lead to accidents caused by the machine are averted.

Electronics require a special lab to check for safety protocols.

Gaps in the electrical continuity and power faults are double checked to ensure optimum safety.

All electronics parts are to be up to standard. Certification label for the destination market are checked as well.

Inspection Report

This report reflects all the final findings in the inspection process.

It further indicates whether the inspection was a pass or a fail.

Comments indicating rectifications as well are in the report.

The report comes in handy when settling any misunderstandings with the manufacturer of the product under inspection.

What is a Pre shipment Inspection Checklist?

 Pre shipment inspection check list

Pre shipment inspection

It is a checklist used to help in making an evaluation of the overall assessment of the inspection.

It comes in handy when dealing with non-compliant items.

It further helps to indicate the extent of the damage to goods.

That is whether critical, major, or minor defects rate.

The checklist guides the inspectors to ensure that;

  • They record and package the reference number of the merchandise
  • Sampling plan and the level is also in check
  • It also allows the inspectors to pick random samples and attach photos of evidence of defects
  • Suggest a corrective measure for the identified
  • Conduct an overall assessment and recommendations
  • Validate with a signature of the inspector in charge.

Which Party in the Supply Chain should apply for Pre Shipment Inspection?

Some of the key players here include:


A consignor is an individual who is in charge of making sure the shipment gets to you.


The individual who awaits to receive the shipment.

Many times you are the buyer


The middleman.

This is the person in charge of getting the merchandise on behalf of the buyer.

What happens after a Pre-shipment Inspection has been carried out?

A final report is made available.

Afterwards, if the report is authenticated, you are awarded a pre-inspection certificate.

What is Pre Shipment Inspection Certificate?

A pre shipment inspection certificate is a document that legalizes your merchandise to the country of import.

This certificate assures that the goods under shipment are in line with the specifications on the sales contract.

The certificate is issued once a pre-shipment inspection has been conducted.

Who issues the Inspection Certificate in Pre Shipment Inspection?

The pre-shipment inspection certificate is the responsibility of the inspection agency to issue.

Most of these inspection agencies are private.

Is Pre Shipment Certificate the same as Pre Shipment Inspection Report?


A pre shipment certificate is different from the report.

The report serves to give detailed information on how the inspection procedure was carried out.

Additionally, it highlights defects in the shipment and gives recommendations to rectify them.

A report also outlines whether the inspection has passed or failed.

The certificate crowns the inspection processes.

It is the document that certifies the shipment is subject to a pre-shipment inspection.

Moreover, it is the legal requirement that offers a gate pass to your shipment into the country of import.

Why are Pre Shipment Inspection Certificates and Reports Important?

The PSI reports and certificates go a long way to facilitate the payment of your shipment through an intermediary bank.

Additionally, as earlier outlined, most countries especially in the countries highlighted earlier.

A legally binding certificate will allow for the admission of your merchandise into these countries.

After Pre Shipment Inspection, How Long does it take for the Issuance of the Inspection Report and the Certificate?

 Pre shipment inspection certificate

Pre shipment inspection certificate

The pre shipment report is usually made available immediately after the inspection.

For most inspection agencies, the reports are made available on online platforms.

The certificate comes later after the report has undergone review.

Which is usually not long since the certificate is in dire need for the shipment and other purposes in need of the certificate.

A maximum of 5 to 7 days is usually recommended to avoid inconveniences in shipping.

For already Packaged Goods, is it Possible to Issue an Inspection Report / Certificate Based on the Photos or Information?

No. Photos or detailed information on the products alone cannot guarantee a quality check to your products.

In this case, a certificate will not be issued for your products.

The core principle guiding most pre shipment inspection agencies is the detailed and thorough check on the goods.

If you require such an inspection, it will be checked, however, you are limited to receive a certificate on the same for your goods.

If you are in need of the certificate, the necessary shipment inspection must then be conformed to your goods.

What is the Difference between Pre Shipment Inspection and Post Shipment Inspection?

Pre shipment inspection is done prior to the shipment of goods to the country of import.

Meanwhile, post shipment inspection takes place upon the arrival of the goods to the designated destination.

Post shipment inspection mostly occurs when the pre inspection has not taken place and the goods must undergo inspection.

Inspection policies are mandatory to some countries.

Are all Shipments Subject to Pre Shipment Inspection?

Pre shipment inspection agencies are experienced in conducting an inspection of all kinds of goods.

Ranging from hardline, soft lines, foods, luxury goods. All types of shipments are legible for inspection.

It all depends on the preference you have as an exporter or importer to undertake such an inspection.

However, prohibited goods are examples of goods you will get a hard time getting for inspection.

All registered goods in the country of import or export are subject to a pre shipment inspection procedure.

What are Necessary Requirements for a Pre Shipment Inspection?

There are a number of requirements you must meet in order to access the inspection services.

These include;

  • Ensuring you have the necessary documents for the inspection. These include the invoices.
  • A conformity certificate to the international standards of inspection.
  • Cooperation from the importer and exporter on the terms of service of the inspection firm.

What are the Pre Shipment Documents?

Below are the common documents required when undertaking a pre shipment inspection service.

  • Commercial Invoice.
  • ExportPacking List.
  • Pro Forma Invoice.
  • Airway Bill.
  • Generic Certificate of Origin.
  • Dangerous Goods Certificate.
  • Insurance Certificate.
  • Shipper’s Letter of Instruction.

Additionally, it is also important to liaise with the inspection agency to inform on any additional important documents.

What is the difference between Pre Shipment Inspection (PSI) and Verification of Conformity (VOC)?

A pre shipment inspection as earlier outlined helps in the assessment of quantity, customs classification and determining price.

The inspection is done before the actual shipment of the goods.

Verification of conformity on the other hand simply checks the conformity of your goods to the national and international standards.

Verification of conformity

Verification of conformity

Is Pre Shipment Inspection regulated by any recognized International Standards?

Yes. There are even international guidelines on how to conduct a pre shipment inspection process.

These guidelines are under the supervision of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This applies in the case where there are no guidelines outlined by the importer or exporter.

What Happens if Goods are Shipped without the Pre Shipment Inspection?

Your goods will arrive.

But before admission, they will be subjected to the right agency for inspection.

You are also bound to incur some penalties as a result.

Delays will as well be inevitable since the merchandise has to undergo a series of inspections.

It is advisable to follow the mandated guidelines to avoid such inconveniences.

How much does Pre Shipment Inspection Cost?

The price differs with different inspection firms.

However, if you are using ecommerce platforms, the price is usually inclusive of pre shipment inspection.

Who pays the Pre Shipment Inspection Fees?

Any party involved in the pre shipment inspection can pay the fees. This majorly revolves around the importer or exporter.

What are the benefits of Pre Shipment Inspection in Ecommerce?

Ecommerce platforms extensively make use of pre shipment agencies.

This is because;

  • Pre shipment agencies reduce the tendency of customers to complain about the goods.
  • The firms further ensure that the chances of shipping defective goods are avoided.
  • The credibility of the ecommerce is improved. This due to the less complaints on the products of clients.

Clients are able to receive the goods they ordered according to their preference and specification.

  • Mores sales are bound to happen. This is attributed to the customer satisfaction achieved.

What are the potential challenges in Pre Shipment Inspection?

Some of the challenges in PSI firms include

Conflict of Interest

This occurs when the company is conducting inspection for their own benefit rather than the customer

Lack of Commitment

This narrows down to the inspectors in charge. Hence resulting to inefficiency in inspection.

  • Unclear expectations from the agency on its inspectors. This is true featuring that different companies have different standards.
  • Lack of responsibility. Especially where there is a rising conflict between the seller and inspection firm.

Can you do the Preparation for Exportation of the Goods Immediately after a Pre Shipment Inspection?


However, you need to be certain that the corrective measures if any have been adhered to.

The inspection agency then confirms the corrections and gives a final report to guarantee the

corrective measures are properly done.

Moreover, before shipment, you should ensure that all the necessary documents, especially the certificate are ready.

Then and only then can you comfortably prepare for the shipment of your goods.

What should you In Case of Unqualified Shipment after a Pre Shipment Inspection?

Following the detailed guidelines from the report, it is important you make a follow-up on them.

Usually, the report points out the mistakes and gives recommendations.

The recommendations outline corrective measures to your merchandise.

Hence, make the corrections with your manufacturer, afterward you will be cleared for shipment.

What is a Correction Report in China Quality Inspection? Is there a Standard Format for it?

A correction report is a document that gives guidelines on how to conduct corrective measures.

The document is made available once your goods are found to be defective hence they do not qualify for a certificate of inspection.

The possibility of altering the defects through a technical process makes the inspector to request the correction.

The inspector further outlays the processing plan through the document.

The plan is given a guarantee by the China laws and regulations.

The report doesn’t come with any standard format to it.

However, the inspector can provide you with a reference sample on the same.

The report is of great significance to any shipment in china.

In fact, the certification of the goods to verify the inspection process will not be available without the correction report.

Why do you a China Quality Control Expert for Pre Shipment Inspection?

Quality control gives assurance on the final product.

Specifications of the product are checked before final dispatch.

Quality control helps achieve the same functions as a pre shipment inspection.

An expert in this field is highly recommendable as he will be able to ensure the product is of good quality during production.

With an expert at hand, the inspection process is less time consuming.

This is because any defects are determined early in advance hence inspection process becomes less time consuming.

What are the characteristics of a Good Pre Shipment Inspection Company?

A good pre shipment inspection company bares the following characteristics;

It has Experienced Auditors.

One of the key qualities of an inspection officer is attention to detail.

A good inspection company, therefore, ensures that all their staff are well trained to carry out their roles.

Additionally, these auditors are able to adhere to the rules and regulations of the target country.

Moreover, these auditors are well versed with various ports across the globe.

Hence their actions guarantee professionalism, hence improving the credibility of the agency.

It gives a Report with Extensive details

A good pre shipment inspection agency goes to the extent of even providing photos of defects if found.

Hence the report assures you of where to make changes.

Thorough Inspection

A good inspection agency puts in place methodologies to ensure that inspection is done with attention to every detail.

If the need arises to use labs, then laboratory tests must be undertaken.

Additionally, checklists should be up to date with international standards of inspection.

Provides Open Communication between Clients

An agency that follows instructions and guidelines on how to conduct an inspection for their merchandise is mostly preferred.

The communication allows to offer to advise where applicable.

Additionally, as an agency, the additional information from the client is a bonus on how to handle the cargo.

Issues Certificates

The main and core reason for a shipment inspection is to attain the shipment certification.

A document that is mandatory to some countries in order to allow admission of the goods.

The certificates should be legal and viable for use.

How quickly is China Quality Inspection Company/Agent able to initiate a Pre shipment Inspection?

After a request for pre shipment inspection has been made, the inspectors can avail themselves to the site within 48 hours.

The inspection then proceeds and reports can even be provided on the same day.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Third Party to Control the Quality of Products you Source from China?

First and foremost, it gives you an assurance that the goods are of good quality since there will be fewer risks of biasness.

The inspection guarantees a detailed and extensive inspection of your goods to ensure the specifications you require are met.

Most of these third party agency offer an all-inclusive fixed price.

Hence saves you the struggle of incurring more costs.

You are assured of getting quality goods due to the relationship with the market sellers.

Most of these third party members are conversant with diverse languages.

Hence communication with your seller is made easy both locally and internationally.

You are able to access these services online as well.

Do Amazon FBA sellers require Pre Shipment Inspection when Importing from China? Why?

Yes. It is in fact mandatory for most Amazon sellers to subject their goods to inspection before dispatch.

This is important because of the following reasons;

To reduce the chances of shipping defective goods

This serves as a major blow especially when the goods are found to be defective upon arrival.

This means that your goods will have to return, undergo a correction then shipped again.

It might sound simple until you incur the costs of returning your merchandise to and fro again.

In fact, it becomes very costly since you will pay again, there will be no refund from the shipping agency.

Evade costly returns and suspension

Eventually, if you record to many returns from Amazon, you risk the possibility of being suspended from the platform.

Countless returns also have an effect on your profits as well.

This is because the costs of delivering the products to your customers are usually your responsibility.

Ensures correct product listings

When you subject your product to an inspection, you offer assurance to your customer on the product purchased.

The inspection comes in handy to ensure the correct product specifications for your customer.

It also enhances your credibility as a seller to your buyer.

Ensures you meet all the packaging and labelling requirements

As a seller, you can easily reduce the burden of packaging these products by making use of the inspection agency.

Wrong packaging can put your merchandise at risk of being returned for correct packaging.

Additionally, wrong packaging can put your Amazon FBA account at the risk of closure.

The inspection agency comes in handy to ensure that the correct packaging of the merchandise is adhered to before making the final shipment.

Manage Quality and Reviews.

One of the ways to improve quality and get more positive reviews is to guarantee of product quality.

It is not all certain that all manufacturers deliver what is ordered

However, with a pre-shipment inspection you are bound to deliver according to the customers’ preferences.

As earlier stated, this will improve your credibility.

Can you dispatch Goods for shipping while Pre shipment Inspection is in progress?

No, the inspection process should be complete for you to continue with shipping and avoid inconveniences.

It is best to wait until the process is complete.

How is the Confidentiality of Information provided for Pre shipment Inspection ensured?

The WTO has a guideline and a rule in place for all PSI agents to maintain the confidentiality of PSI information.

The information should strictly be used in PSI activities.

How long does a Pre Shipment Inspection take?

Usually, if the merchandise is not ambiguous, it can take a day to produce the report on the inspection.

Will a Pre Shipment Inspection Delay Shipping?


A pre shipment inspection is bound to cause delays to your shipment.

This is because the shipment inspection procedure follows a procedure that is adhered to.

Additionally, as earlier stated the certification takes 5 to 7 business working days to be made available.

However, the delays are worth it since as a buyer, you will receive quality products with no events of defects.

What is the Minimum Value of goods subject to Pre Shipment Inspection?

The minimum value depends on the country of import or export. As earlier outlined, Kuwait requires a pre-shipment inspection for goods with a value of $3000.

At SourcingWise, we make it easier for you to import all your goods from China.

Whether you need a warehouse, partnering with a reliable freight forwarder, booking spaces in ships, SourcingWise offers a perfect solution for you.

Contact us today for all your shipping needs from China.

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