Pre-shipment inspection

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Pre-shipment inspection (also preshipment inspection or PSI) is a part of supply chain management and an important quality control method for checking the quality of goods clients buy from suppliers.

PSI helps ensure that production complies with the governing specification, contract, or purchase order. A final random inspection (FRI) checks finished products, often when at least 80% of an order has been produced and export-packed. Samples are selected at random, according to standards and procedures.


re-shipment acceptance sampling, involving inspection, and acceptance testing, may be agreed upon between a buyer, a supplier, and a bank, and it can be used to initiate payment under a letter of credit. A PSI can be performed at different stages before shipment, such as checking the total amount of goods and packing, controlling the quality or consistency of goods, checking of all documentation, as for example test reports, packaging list, or verification of compliance with standards of the destination country like ASME, CE mark and import duties.

Random selection[edit]

  • At the 80 percent completion point, random pieces are pulled. The goal is 8 and 2 - For every ten products, two are allowed defects. Any more, and the entire batch may be pulled.
  • ANSI / ASQC Z1.4 (ISO 2859-1) is the international standard for the inspection process.[1] The Acceptable Quality Limit, AQL, is previously determined by agreement of importer and manufacturer and is a necessary part of the contractual agreement.


There are three levels of defects in a pre-shipment inspection with each defect escalating into the next.

  • Small - Defects of this level will not affect functionality. Think small miscolorations.
  • Major - These are problematic and must be resolved immediately. The manufacturer risks the entire batch in this case.
  • Critical - The batch has serious issues. Products involving chemicals such as cosmetics, often require professional laboratories to complete the inspection. The batch is always refused in the case of a critical defect.


The inspection team covers the order and shipment. This is perhaps the most detailed of all the process and is when issues are most likely discovered. This step takes considerable time but importers consider this to be the de facto part of the inspection process.


Does the product work in its intended manner? Important for electronics, toys and the like.


UL, CE, BSI, CSA, FDA, etc are all parts of a safety check. It is of the best interest of the importer to be sure all products meet these requirements, particularly machinery and any product using electricity.

Inspection companies[edit]

There are two types of PSI companies:

  • Free-market companies which are privately owned, selling their services to the market. Risks involved might be, especially if it is a smaller company, that the company is paid by the manufacturer and working in its interest. The two largest pre-inspection private and free market companies are SGS and Bivac.[2]
  • State owned inspection companies:[where?] only very few companies operating on the market are state-owned or partly state-owned. The shareholding of governmental institutions guarantees independence and objectivity.

A higher form of the PSI is called expediting, in which the dates of delivery and the production are included in the control.

Termination on the PSI requirement[edit]

PSI increases burdens and costs in international trade and can be counter-productive for the country of importation and its traders.

Several countries are considering termination on the use of inspection companies' service, following upon WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation Article 10.5 Pre-shipment Inspection : 5.1. Members shall not require the use of pre-shipment inspections in relation to tariff classification and customs valuation.

In 1988, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Recommendation No.18 - Recommended Measure 8.2 “Discouragement of Pre-Shipment Inspection” was adopted.

Particular reasons for pre-inspections from Chinese manufacturers[edit]

Many manufacturers in China have reputations that are far from positive. Cutting corners, using sub par raw materials and other methods to raise profits are common. This often works in the manufacturer's favor as the importing country and customer often lacks both the means and labor to return products to China. Refunds can pose to be equally difficult as manufacturers will not return email, refuse to answer phones or feign ignorance of the order.

A quality pre-shipment inspection on Chinese products helps keep these issues to a minimum.


  1. ^ "ANSI/ASQ Z1.4 & Z1.9 Sampling Plan Standards for Quality Control | ASQ". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  2. ^ "Pre-Shipment Inspection – Keep Quality High And Customers Happy | Sourcing Nova". Retrieved 2021-06-04.

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