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What is a Letter of Indemnity? Why do I need one?

It’s unusual, but something you may come across when shipping internationally: on top of providing the normal customs paperwork for your shipment, you are also asked to provide a letter of indemnity. But what is an indemnity letter? What is it used for? And why might a courier require one for your shipment?

And if you were wondering what indemnity meant, it’s simply security or protection from a financial loss. In the case of shipping, that financial loss comes from claims against lost or damaged parcels in unavoidable circumstances.

What is an indemnity letter?

Put simply, a document in which the shipper indemnifies the carrier against claims that may stem from beyond the carriers control. This is common when shipping by boat, or when the carrier of the goods are taking a non-contractual risk.

When shipping by sea, letters of indemnity are sometimes used instead of a Bill of Lading. This is the case when there is not time to obtain a bill of lading, or if the goods require a change of ship to reach their destination.

In essence, an indemnity letter is the shipper of a package waiving their right to claim for loss or damage to a parcel when delivery is being made to a location that may be unsettled or dangerous.

In many cases, this is the only way a parcel can be delivered, as many couriers will not deliver to locations which may require further risk.

When does ParcelHero require an indemnity letter?

ParcelHero requires an indemnity letter when a shipment is sent to countries that are currently unsettled. If you are unsure of what this definition may include, you can get in touch with our customer service team, who will be able to explain exactly the areas where you might require an indemnity letter.

Because ParcelHero doesn’t ship by sea, you will not be required to provide a letter in lieu of a bill of lading. You will only be asked to provide a letter of indemnity to ParcelHero if you are sending a shipment to an area in which our partner courier undertakes extra risk.

Currently, if a customer ships to Iran, Syria or North Korea they must include an indemnity letter when making their bookings.

What happens if I cannot provide an indemnity letter?

There are several possibilities if you cannot provide a letter of indemnity when shipping a parcel to a location that requires one.

If you did not know that your destination required an indemnity letter, our customer service team will get in touch to explain the requirement. When you provide the letter of indemnity, the shipment will continue as normal.

If you cannot provide a letter of indemnity, however, then your parcel cannot be delivered. It will be returned to the sender at their own cost.

To ensure this does not happen, be prepared to provide a letter of indemnity when shipping to areas of unrest. If you are not sure you need a letter of indemnity, talk to our customer service team, who will be able to confirm whether it is required. Do bear in mind that an indemnity letter is a legally binding document, and may require some time to obtain.

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