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SLI in SED Format

Download and print this PDF of the Shipper's Letter of Instruction in the old Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) format.

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What is a SLI in SED Format?


Preparing and submitting an SLI provides your company with a written record of who received the shipping documents, who to contact for questions, who to contact for proof of export, and who issued the export control information that was used to support the decision to export the goods.

An SLI also typically includes a limited Power of Attorney statement that gives the freight forwarder the authority to sign documents on behalf of the exporter.

The SLI is completed by the exporter in advance and is sent to the freight forwarder with the other export paperwork. It's a cover memo for the rest of the paperwork and a summary of information your forwarders need to know.

If your export shipment requires that you or your agent file your export information electronically through the Automated Export System (AES), the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) has created a specific version of the SLI that includes the additional information required for a freight forwarder to file through AES.

This version of the SLI typically includes an additional statement granting the forwarder this right to file through AES on behalf of the exporter.

Key Data Elements

Think of the standard format SLI as a cover memo for the rest of the export documents that includes:

  • The name and contact information of the freight forwarder, exporter, ultimate consignee and intermediate consignee.
  • Information about the products being shipped, including a description of the goods, how they are packed, any special markings on the packing, and their weights and measurements.
  • Any export control information that may be used to determine whether or not there are any restrictions on exporting the goods.
  • Who is paying for the freight.
  • Whether or not the goods should be shipped directly or consolidated with other freight, which may reduce the cost of the shipping.
  • Whether or not insurance is required for the shipment.
  • What other documents are being included with the shipment.
  • Any other special instructions to the forwarder or carrier.

Foreign Trade Regulations require that you provide at least these 10 data elements:

  • The name, as well as the address of the USPPI.
  • The employer identification number or other tax identification number of the USPPI.
  • The point of origin for the merchandise awaiting exportation.
  • The appropriate merchandise code, Domestic (D) or Foreign (F).
  • The appropriate Schedule B number.
  • The appropriate Schedule B description of commodities.
  • The appropriate quantity and unit of measure.
  • The appropriate value.
  • The appropriate export control classification number (ECCN) or enough technical information to determine the ECCN.
  • Sufficient technical information to determine which U.S. government agency has licensing authority over the goods.

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SLI in SED Format FAQs

  • What is the purpose of the SED format of the SLI?

    Prior to the implementation of the Automated Export System (AES), the paper SED (Shipper's Export Declaration) was used to provide required information to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The paper SED is no longer accepted by Census or Customs, but some shippers still use a version of it as an SLI for their freight forwarder. However, the SED does not include all the data elements currently required to meet the U.S. Foreign Trade Regulations. Most industry professionals recommend that shippers use a version of the SLI that meets current data requirements.

  • How do I fill out an SLI?

    The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) serves as a comprehensive cover memo for export documents, including contact information of parties involved, product details, export control information, freight payment details, shipping instructions, insurance requirements, included documents, special instructions and essential data elements required by Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR).

  • When is an SLI required for export?

    Though a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) is not always required for export, your freight forwarder or other logistics provider may want you to provide one. The SLI serves as a guideline for the freight forwarder or shipping agent to properly handle and transport the goods based on the shipper's requirements.

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