Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Historical Perspective
  3. Components of an IGM
  4. Purpose and Significance
  5. IGM Filing Process
  6. Customs Clearance
  7. IGM vs. Bill of Entry (BOE)
  8. IGM Amendments
  9. Importance of Accuracy in IGM Filing
  10. Conclusion
  11. FAQ


Importing goods can be a complex process, requiring meticulous documentation and adherence to customs regulations. One crucial aspect of this process is the Import General Manifest (IGM). In this article, we will explore what an IGM is, its importance in the import process, and how it differs from the Bill of Lading (BOL). Whether you’re an experienced exporter or importer looking to expand your knowledge or a newcomer navigating the world of international trade, understanding the ins and outs of IGMs is vital.

IGM Form

image credit Ideal Shipping Ltd.

Historical Perspective

To appreciate the significance of IGMs, let’s delve into their historical evolution. The concept of manifesting cargo dates back centuries when ships began documenting their cargo for various purposes. Over time, as international trade grew more regulated, customs authorities required a standardized document that provided comprehensive details about imported goods. This led to the development of modern-day Import General Manifests.

Throughout history, there have been notable changes and developments in how IGMs are prepared and utilized. Technological advancements have streamlined processes, enabling more efficient handling of cargo information while ensuring compliance with customs regulations.

Components of an IGM

An Import General Manifest consists of several key components that collectively provide essential information about imported goods. These components include:

  1. Vessel Information: Details regarding the vessel carrying the goods, such as its name, registration number, and arrival/departure dates.
  2. Port Information: Information about the port where the vessel arrived or departed.
  3. Importer Details: Identification data for the importing party or parties involved in bringing the goods into a specific country.
  4. Cargo Description: Comprehensive information about each item being imported, including its quantity, weight, dimensions if applicable, nature of goods (e.g., hazardous materials), and any special handling requirements.
  5. Container Details: If the cargo is transported in containers, the IGM includes container numbers, seal numbers, and other relevant container information.

Each component plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate documentation and smooth customs clearance.

Purpose and Significance

The purpose of an IGM is twofold: to facilitate efficient cargo handling and to provide customs authorities with essential information for assessing duties, taxes, and regulatory compliance. By having a comprehensive overview of the imported goods before their arrival, customs officials can streamline their processes, allocate resources effectively, and minimize delays.

For importers, submitting an accurate IGM is vital to ensure smooth customs clearance. Any discrepancies or inaccuracies in the document can lead to unnecessary delays or even penalties. Therefore, understanding the significance of IGMs and diligently preparing them is crucial for successful importing operations.

IGM Filing Process

The process of preparing and filing an IGM involves several steps. Importers or their authorized agents are responsible for completing this process accurately and in a timely manner. The following steps outline the typical IGM filing process:

  1. Gather Information: Collect all necessary details about the imported goods, including cargo descriptions, vessel information, importer details, and container information if applicable.
  2. Complete Documentation: Use the provided templates or software systems to input the required information into the IGM form accurately.
  3. Validation: Review all entered data for accuracy and completeness. Ensure that all legal requirements specific to the importing country are met.
  4. Submission: Transmit the completed IGM electronically through designated portals or systems to customs authorities within the specified timeframe before vessel arrival.
  5. Confirmation: Receive confirmation from customs authorities acknowledging successful submission of the IGM.

By adhering to this process diligently, importers can contribute to seamless cargo handling and efficient customs procedures.

Customs Clearance

What Is Import General Manifest in Customs? IGM vs Bill of Entry

Image Cardit: Khatabook

Customs authorities rely on Import General Manifests during various stages of the clearance process. These documents assist in assessing duties, taxes, and regulatory compliance. By cross-referencing the IGM with other supporting documents, customs officials can verify the accuracy of declared information and identify any discrepancies or potential risks.

The information provided in the IGM allows customs authorities to allocate resources effectively for physical inspections, if required. Additionally, it helps them determine whether any additional permits or certifications are necessary for specific goods or if they need to adhere to any special handling procedures.

Navigating through customs clearance can be complex, but a well-prepared and accurate IGM significantly contributes to a smoother process.

IGM vs. Bill of Entry (BOE)

While both the IGM and BOE are crucial documents in import processes, they serve different purposes:

Import General Manifest (IGM)

The IGM is filed by shipping agents or airlines with customs authorities upon arrival or departure of a vessel or aircraft. It serves as a notification to customs about the cargo on board, enabling them to plan and coordinate the efficient handling and clearance of goods. The IGM provides a consolidated overview of all import shipments on board and helps customs officials verify the accuracy of declared cargo.

Bill of Entry (BOE)

Bill of Entry (BOE)

Bill of Entry (BOE)

The Bill of Entry (BOE), on the other hand, is filed by importers or their authorized agents with customs authorities for each specific consignment. It contains detailed information about the imported goods, including their classification, value, and duty calculations. The BOE acts as an official declaration by the importer regarding their liability to pay duties and taxes on the imported goods.

IGM Amendments

There may be instances where an IGM requires amendments after its submission to the customs authorities. Changes could be due to errors identified in the initial document or alterations in the cargo details post-submission. The process for amending an IGM varies depending on the country’s specific customs regulations, but it typically involves the following steps:

  1. Identification: The importer or the authorized agent identifies the need for an amendment in the IGM.
  2. Application: A formal application is submitted to the customs authorities, outlining the required changes and the reasons for the amendment.
  3. Review: The customs authorities review the application and the suggested changes, cross-referencing with other supporting documents if necessary.
  4. Approval or Denial: If the justification for the amendment is valid and all formalities are duly followed, the customs authorities approve the changes. If not, the amendment may be denied.
  5. Revision and Resubmission: If approved, the IGM is revised accordingly and resubmitted to the customs authorities.

Please note that making amendments to an IGM post-submission should be avoided as much as possible due to the complexities and potential delays in customs clearance. However, when necessary, proper protocols should be followed to ensure accurate and efficient processing.

Importance of Accuracy in IGM Filing

The accuracy of IGM filing holds significant importance in the import-export business and regulatory compliance. Inaccurate or incomplete information can lead to serious consequences such as penal duties, fines, or even seizure of goods by customs authorities. Moreover, any discrepancies in the IGM can result in delays in the customs clearance process causing disruption in the supply chain and potential financial losses.

Therefore, importers or their authorized agents must ensure that they provide accurate and complete information in the IGM. This includes details about the importer, cargo, and vessel. It’s also important to verify that all the legal requirements specific to the importing country are met and that the IGM is submitted within the specified timeframe before the vessel’s arrival.

By ensuring the accuracy of IGM filing, importers can avoid unnecessary complications, streamline the customs clearance process, and ensure timely delivery of goods.


n conclusion, the Import General Manifest (IGM) is a vital document in international trade, playing an instrumental role in facilitating seamless and legal cargo handling. It provides a comprehensive picture of all goods in a vessel, aiding customs authorities in their duties and regulatory compliance process. The IGM goes hand in hand with the Bill of Lading, each serving unique purposes to ensure a smooth shipping process.

Accuracy in IGM filing is crucial to avoid any legal repercussions, disruptions in supply chain, or financial losses. It’s imperative to review the document for any errors and make necessary amendments following the respective country’s customs regulations.

Navigating through the complexities of customs clearance and IGM filing can be challenging. Yet, with diligent adherence to the process, importers can contribute significantly to an efficient and transparent global trade environment.


1. What is an Import General Manifest (IGM)?

An Import General Manifest (IGM) is a document that provides information about all the cargo that is being imported into a country on a particular vessel or aircraft. The IGM is filed with the customs authorities of the destination country before the vessel or aircraft arrives.

2. Who is responsible for filing the IGM?

The carrier (i.e., the shipping line or airline) is responsible for filing the IGM. However, the carrier may delegate this responsibility to the shipper or their customs broker.

3. What information is included in the IGM?

The IGM typically includes the following information:

  • Name of the carrier
  • Voyage or flight number
  • Name of the vessel or aircraft
  • Port or airport of arrival
  • Date and time of arrival
  • Consignee
  • Description of the goods
  • Quantity of the goods
  • Value of the goods

4. When does the IGM need to be filed?

The IGM must be filed with the customs authorities of the destination country before the vessel or aircraft arrives. The specific deadline varies from country to country, but it is typically 24-48 hours before arrival.

5. How is the IGM filed?

The IGM can be filed electronically or manually. Electronic filing is the preferred method, as it is more efficient and less prone to errors.

6. What are the benefits of filing the IGM electronically?

There are several benefits to filing the IGM electronically, including:

  • Faster processing of the IGM by customs
  • Reduced risk of errors
  • Improved visibility into the cargo arrival process
  • Reduced paperwork

7. What are the consequences of failing to file the IGM on time or accurately?

Failing to file the IGM on time or accurately can result in a number of penalties, such as:

  • Delays in the clearance of the cargo
  • Fines
  • Seizure of the cargo

8. What are the customs requirements for the IGM?

The customs requirements for the IGM vary from country to country. It is important to check with the customs authorities of the destination country to ensure that the IGM is completed correctly.

9. What are some common mistakes to avoid when filing the IGM?

Some common mistakes to avoid when filing the IGM include:

  • Filing the IGM late
  • Filing the IGM with inaccurate information
  • Failing to include all of the required information
  • Filing the IGM in the wrong format

10. What are some tips for filing the IGM accurately?

Here are some tips for filing the IGM accurately:

  • Start preparing the IGM early.
  • Review the customs requirements of the destination country carefully.
  • Use a reliable IGM filing software.
  • Double-check all of the information before filing the IGM.