Definition and Meaning of Pre-Shipment Inspection

In global trade, ensuring that the definitive batch of products conforms to specifications determined in the sales agreement is an uphill climb, particularly when the supplier is over the hills and far away.

It is for this reason that the trade operators (manufacturers/sellers) have integrated a Pre-Shipment Inspection as an essential phase in their trade. Specifically, if a merchant deals in products originating in the Republic of China to reap the benefits that this trade hub offers, executing a Pre-Shipment Inspection in China at the supplier’s production house will prove to be a gold mine.

If you are in two minds about conducting an inspection for your merchandise or you’re just here to delve into what Pre-Shipment Inspection is. Here is a comprehension of some of the FAQs about a PSI.

o   What does Pre-Shipment Inspection mean?

Pre-Shipment Inspection also referred to as Final Random Inspection, is an essential measure in the quality control of a supply chain. This step is executed by the company’s own Quality Control (QC) department or a contracted third-party inspection agency.

By description, a Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) is carried out to evaluate the merchandise prior to its shipment, on regulatory requirements and various defined parameters such as quantity and quality as well as labeling and packaging. Generally, a PSI is conducted at the supplier’s factory or depository, when the products are 100 percent yielded and almost 80 percent of them are packed to furnish ample opportunities to identify and rectify even the smallest of defects.



o   How long does Pre-Shipment Inspection take?

One of the major concerns that trade operators have, regarding the Pre-Shipment Inspections, is the duration of a fundamental inspection and whether it will result in any delays in the shipment procedure. To answer this enigma, one effective rule cited in the ‘Agreement On Pre-Shipment Inspection’ enacted by the World Trade Organization, is that a Pre-Shipment should not induce any delays in the shipment.

Usually, the procedure commences with filling out an application document for your chosen inspection agency, followed by the visit of an inspection crew at the production house. For products that contain restrictive chemicals, the team might choose to carry out an off-site inspection. First and foremost, the inspection team counts the number of items to verify the quantity factor.  Thereafter, random sampling of the products according to standard criteria takes place and those samples are evaluated on different qualitative aspects as well as their safety and functionality. At the end of PSI, an inspection report is usually issued within 48 hours of inspection by the team.

This is practicable when you contract with inspection agencies like Zoominspect which are the finest in the domain. With highly skilled expertise and dozens of customizable checklists for diverse product categories, a swift yet thorough inspection of your products is guaranteed. So, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward and concentrate your efforts on picking the right inspection company that fulfills the inspection checklist for their services, to achieve supreme quality inspection in a brief time frame.

o   What are the inspection parameters for a PSI?

For all inspections, leading inspection companies like Zoominspect perform sampling of the products guided by international standard  ANSI/ASQC Z1.4 (ISO 2859-1) sampling procedure. An Acceptable Quality Limit (AQL) also is a substantial part of the contractual agreement. The selected samples are then assessed according to the client’s specifications, regulatory standards, and letters of credit. The products are evaluated for plenty of guidelines. Some of these are :

  • Is the quantity per the agreement?
  • Are the overall workmanship provisions in order?
  • Does the optical craft look visually appealing?
  • Are the dimensions of each product in proportion?
  • Is the packaging and labeling including barcodes accurate?
  • Can the products deal with functionality tests?
  • Can the products fulfill the safety regulations?
  • Are the products compliant with the codes of the destination country?

Afterwards, an inspection report is generated depending on the results and the consignment is allotted a pass or fail status. An overview of key findings along with graphic proofs and all-around suggestions for better compliance are also included in the final reports. For more details about the procedure, check out our blog on Pre-Shipment Inspection in 7 simple steps.

o   Which of its benefits have made PSI, a requisite in modern trade?

In recent times, a Pre-Shipment Inspection has been incorporated into the requisites of trade and commerce, especially in China. This is because it gives you the assurance about quality and compliance of your products before they are dispatched. Moreover if any defects or shortcomings are found during the PSI, it provides an opportunity to make rectifications prior to export thus preventing additional expenses, reworks and unnecessary delays. Additionally, it also avoids payments being made for inadequate products and  protects your reputation as a seller by preventing low quality products from reaching the market.

Particularly, if a seller sources their products from the gigantic Chinese market due to lower costs, cheap labor and wide spectrum of products, a Pre-Shipment Inspection is the step that must not be compromised because cutting corners, using low grade materials and other schemes to extend their profit margins are common. Therefore, a PSI conducted in the supplier’s premises in China lessens these matters to a minimum.

In addition to importers demanding a Certificate of Inspection from an autonomous third party for the exporter, various country ports also require inspection certifications to be sure of compliance regulations and accurate quantity and costs to stave off parties from false invoices just to lower customs duties and taxes or elude foreign trade regulations. Hence, an inspection certificate from a first-rate inspection company like Zoominspect will ease your dealings with the customs regulations of other countries.


Conducting a Pre-Shipment Inspection has an indispensable significance for a trade to hit the jackpot. The cost and time invested in carrying out this inspection is worth the benefits. If you’re looking for a reliable inspection agency that can provide you a premium quality inspection service in China in economical rates, reach out to us at [email protected].