Pre-shipment inspection (PSI) is a quality inspection that is done when the products are 80% packed, 100% completed and ready to be shipped to the customers. This quality control procedure is usually done onsite at the manufacturer’s premises. It is a mandatory checking done to ensure that only quality products are shipped, thereby helping importers, traders, wholesalers and customers as well.

In this pre-shipment inspection process, trained inspectors select random samples of the products using universally accepted statistical sampling methods. During inspection, the quality, quantity and volumetric size of the finished goods are ascertained. Pre-shipment inspection agencies are certified as per the Agreement on Pre-Shipment Inspection, introduced by the World Trade Organization in 1994.

Why Is PSI Needed?

With the demand for consumer products rising, developed countries began looking to manufacturers or suppliers in developing countries. Pre-shipment inspection services became an integral part of quality control. In order to ensure that substandard products don’t reach the customers, rigorous quality checks have to be done during shipment inspections. 

The need for pre-shipment inspection is to always be in compliance with international regulations and government guidelines. This also helps to steer clear of legal issues arising from poor quality control measures. Defective products can lead to reputational damage as well as financial losses for the manufacturer.

Doing such timely inspections allows manufacturers to have information with regard to the quality of the products at an early stage. This is especially useful if reworks need to be ordered and overall product standards are to be maintained. Here are some other advantages of conducting such inspections:

  • To inspect packing, shipment marks and labelling
  • To determine the percentage of defects in the shipment order
  • To ensure proper product functioning
  • To save time, money and resources in the case of product recalls

What is the Main Purpose of PSI Inspections?

Pre-shipment inspections take place at the latter stage of manufacturing once the production run is at least 80% complete. The main purpose of a pre-shipment inspection is to reduce the risk of poor-quality products entering the market. It gives you the opportunity to catch any last-minute problems that occur, and take action to fix the issue before the product is shipped to your customers. Such inspections make the quality assessment of goods during production easier so modifications can be done in a timely manner. Once the inspection is done, the manufacturers or exporters get a pre-shipment inspection certificate that is mandatory for customs clearance in many countries.

Conducting a detailed pre-shipment inspection procedure is helpful to assess both the quality and the quantity aspect of the merchandise before it is shipped. It is also necessary to ensure that the safety guidelines are all adhered to during the quality checks. Inspections before shipping for export or import are a smart move on the part of the suppliers and manufacturers to ensure that quality standards are maintained and that even the smallest of product issues are never overlooked.

Steps in a Pre-shipment Inspection

Whether the pre-shipment inspection is handled by your in-house team of quality inspectors or if you decide to hire a third-party inspection company; here is what to expect during the whole process:

Step 1 – The inspector travels to the factory where the goods are made. The date and time for this are decided upon mutually so the products are kept ready for inspection.

Step 2 – Samples are pulled out from the product batches for conducting tests. Statistical sampling procedures like the AQL Sampling methods are followed to determine the number of pieces to be inspected in each batch. The inspection of the products is done on the basis of a pre-shipment inspection checklist.

Step 3 – Some products may require special tests like electronic items that require functional tests.

Step 4 – In this step, the packaging and the labeling are checked by the inspector. Perfectly manufactured products can also get damaged if the packaging is not sufficient or properly done. Wrong labeling can also lead to expensive delays, leading to escalations and issues with the authorities.

Step 5 – The selected product samples undergo a visual inspection for workmanship-related defects like screws missing, chipped paint or sharp edges. These defects are classified as minor, major or critical.

Step 6 – The inspector ensures that the product meets all physical requirements like height, weight, length and other criteria.

Step 7 – Verification of the barcode to ensure that it has the quality to withstand international shipping and handling difficulties.

Step 8 – This step includes testing the strength of the packaging with internationally accepted carton drop test protocols such as ISTA 1A.

Step 9 – Once the pre-shipment inspection is completed, a final inspection report is issued with the findings in detail. A shipment results in a pass, fail or hold status is given to the products or consignment.

Benefits of Pre-Shipment Inspection

Being able to determine the quality of the products in the production stage itself can be very helpful for exporters, suppliers or manufacturers. Pre-shipment inspection services are a cost-effective way to check for defects or quality issues before the shipping is initiated.

The manufacturers often determine the final date when the products can be ready for shipment by considering the time allocated for pre-shipment inspection. The pre-shipment inspection certificate received following the inspections is displayed as a part of the quality systems followed by the company.

Here are some more benefits of pre-shipment inspection:

  • To check if the quantity or the metrics of products is as specified
  • To minimize delivery delays and defective products
  • To ensure that product safety requirements are met
  • Offers peace of mind that comes from knowing product orders are completed successfully
  • Ensures that you are reducing the risk of your products being returned
  • Improves customer retention, delivering good quality products
  • Increases your company’s ROI in the longer run

Three Methods of Pre-shipment Inspection

The three methods of pre-shipment inspection are consignment-wise inspection, in-process quality control and self-certification. Let’s look at what is involved in each of these methods:

Consignment-wise inspection

In this method, a detailed inspection is conducted on the actual export consignment that has been packed for shipment. The inspection is done as per statistical sampling methods. Once the quality check is passed, a pre-shipment inspection certificate is issued with details like the validity period during which the export should be done.

Without this certificate, no consignment of the specified commodity is given the go-ahead for export. This inspection method is especially beneficial for small manufacturers who can’t afford their own personnel or facility for the inspection of products.

In-process quality control –

This method of pre-shipment inspection is used in the case of products like paints and allied products, linoleum, ceramics, printing ink, sanitary wares etc. If such continuous process industries can prove that they have the infrastructure to manufacture or process standard-quality products, they can be approved as export-worthy production units. Such companies can do their own inspection and submit a declaration on the basis of the inspection done and following which a certificate is issued.

Self-certification –

  • A self-certification system was recently introduced under the Quality Control and Pre-Shipment Inspection Scheme in India. As per this system, the manufacturing unit with the in-house provision for ensuring quality control through thorough inspections can certify their own product for export.

Types of Pre-shipment Inspection

The two different types of pre-shipment inspection are government-required pre-shipment inspection and the importer voluntary pre-shipment inspection. The first type is the inspection that is made mandatory for imported products by the government. In this pre-shipment inspection, a designated agency is tasked with inspecting the products before being shipped from the exporting country. The purpose of this type of pre-shipment inspection is to prevent the evasion of import duties, capital outflows and low-quality product imports.

The second type is when the pre-shipment inspection is not made mandatory but the importers themselves initiate quality checks before the shipment is done to protect the rights of buyers. This type of inspection majorly focuses on ensuring that the quality, quantity and specifications of the product are in line with the purchase agreement. But this inspection need not necessarily be as per ISO standards.

How Pre-shipment Services are Must for Your Business?

Ensuring that product quality meets accepted standards and customer expectations is a challenge faced by all manufacturers, importers and exporters. Pre-shipment inspection is the most effective way to minimize any issues arising from quality-related issues. Such shipment inspection also encourages production units to take preventative actions like purchasing only the best raw materials so this is reflected in the quality of the finished goods.

Pre-shipment inspection takes place before the product is completed and then packaged. It is the last stage of the process before recalls and corrections start to become very expensive, and it helps you stay away from import risks. A business that consistently produces quality products has a good reputation in the market. In the same way, continuously churning out defective products can lead to huge money-wise losses and wastage for the business. Hence pre-shipment inspections are a must and not something that should be overlooked by any means, however established the business may be.

Outsourcing Pre-shipment Inspections

Outsourcing pre-shipment inspection processes to a reputable and dependable pre-shipment inspection company in the quality control space can be a very beneficial option for your company. Here are some top reasons:

  • Better communication to help minimize the language gap between you and your supplier so there is no deviation from the required standards and specifications in manufacturing your products.
  • Professional inspection companies have integrity and follow strict policies so there is never any bias that could influence inspection outcomes or reports.
  • They can be flexible if your company requires an inspection report in a specific format or if the inspectors have to employ specific types of testing procedures.
  • The top advantage of hiring a third-party inspection company is its cost-effectiveness. This can also save you time, resources and extra effort.
  • They have the resources for ensuring quick turnaround times.
  • Strict compliance with ISO standards is a guarantee.
  • Cutting-edge and secure inspection practices that ensure your products or commodities are always safe.
  • Most third-party inspection companies offer 24-hour customer service by phone, email, and web chat as well as worldwide shipping options.


Global Inspection Managing is a global quality assurance firm, offering state-of-the-art pre-shipment inspection services to clients across continents in a broad range of industries from fresh produce, to textiles and manufacturing and even the provision of lab testing services. Our team of fully qualified inspectors based in Hong Kong boasts a wealth of experience, blending both real-world understanding and knowledge of relevant industry regulations.

Our expert shipment inspectors also work on customized pre-shipment inspection checklists. We can tailor our pre-shipment inspection services to suit the unique needs of your business, and check to ensure your products meet any specified industry standards. Our teams always stay abreast of the latest developments in both international and industry-specific regulations. We don’t just operate on general principles and standards of quality; we operate on the specific guidelines set out in the regulations and legislation governing your industry.

Our team travels throughout the world on a daily basis ensuring quality control standards are being met and that businesses are allowed to reach their true potential. Once the pre-shipment inspection is complete from our side, the final report is generated within the next 18 hours promising fast turnaround times.