Pre-shipment inspection

Pre-shipment inspection

Pre-shipment inspection, also called preshipment inspection or PSI, is an important and reliable quality control method for checking goods' quality while clients buy from the suppliers.

After ordering a number of articles, the buyer lets a third party control the ordered goods before they are dispatched to him. Normally an independent inspection company is assigned with the task of the PSI, as it is in the interest of the buyer that somebody not connected with the deal in any way verifies the amount and quality. This way the buyer makes sure, he gets the goods he paid for.

Although increasing numbers of clients would like to collect suppliers' information from the Internet, this contains high risks because it is not a face-to-face transaction, and Internet phishing and fraud can corrupt it. Pre-shipment inspection can greatly avoid this risk and ensure clients get quality products from suppliers.



The pre-shipment inspection is normally agreed between a buyer, a supplier, and a bank, and it can be used to initiate payment for a letter of credit. A PSI can be performed at different stages:

  • Checking the total amount of goods and packing
  • Controlling the quality and/or consistency of goods
  • Verifying compliance with the standards of the destination country (e.g. ASME or CE mark)

The first stage is often performed by the transport company, but for the latter two stages a proper inspection company is needed. Similarly, if between the buyer and seller money transfer via a letter of credit is agreed upon, it is necessary to assign a reputable inspection company. In case of the letter of credit, after inspection of the goods, an inspection certificate is sent to the bank issuing the letter of credit and the buyer, initiating the money transfer. Inspection companies are classified in two classes:

- Free-market companies: These are privately owned companies, which sell their services to the market. Danger with these might be, especially if it is a smaller company, that they might be paid as well by the manufacturer, thus working in his interest.

- State owned inspection companies: Only very few companies operating on the market are state-owned or partly state-owned. The shareholding of governmental institutions guarantees the independence and objectivity.

A higher form of the PSI is called expediting, in this the dates of delivery and the production are controlled as well.

Some countries, like Botswana, require PSIs for all goods entering the country in order to fight corruption. In these cases the PSI must be performed by the company designated by the country.

PSI and corruption charges

The Worldbank recommends pre-shipment inspections (PSI) as a means to fight corruption especially in developing countries. As SGS S.A. is one of the worldwide market leaders in PSI, it profits well from these means. Recent international charges show the companies involvement furthering corruption instead of fighting it due to the payment of millions of dollars to government members and their families. Most known is the payment to the then husband of Pakistani president Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari[1][2]. Further irregularities were published about the contracts with Paraguay[3] and the Philippines[4][5].


  1. ^ Court order against Zardari. Retrieved 09.Feb.10
  2. ^ ICSID Case No. ARB/01/13 retrieved Feb.10th 2010
  3. ^ ICSID Case No. ARB/07/29
  4. ^ ICSID Case No. ARB/02/6
  5. ^ Researchpaper about PSI-industry and corruption in developing countries retrieved 09th Feb.2010

External links

Pre-Shipment Inspectors in alphabetical order

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