With ocean freight rates skyrocketing, blank sailings and port congestion soaring  for some shippers, air freight is a serious alternative to consider, in particular if cargo is sensitive, short shelf life, and expensive. 

Read more about Cargo Claims and Freight Claims 

It is a common mistake to think that cargo shipped by air rarely gets damaged or is always insured. Nothing can be further from the truth. 

When cargo shipped by air arrives damaged, airline request importer to provide claim supporting documents, such as:

  • Copy of the Master and House Air Waybill(s)
  • Survey/Damage report clarifying damage of and possible salvageability of said damaged item ( if available) 
  • Photographs of damage
  • Itemized invoice
  • Letter stating the claim amount and details of claim
  • Destruction certificate OR salvage invoice

From our experience handling air cargo claims, we note that importers rarely possess destruction certificate when claiming cargo total loss e.g. due to excessive transit time or temperature fluctuations. Lack of destruction certificate from the importer always leads to dispute with the air carrier, who allege that cargo was delivered in perfect condition or could have been sold for salvage. 

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Why Do I Need a Destruction Certificate for My Claim?

A destruction certificate is required in the claim process if, for example, cargo arrived in rotten, wet, or non-usable condition, importer can’t sell it at the reduced market price or salvage otherwise, and has to destroy it.  Then submit a claim for total loss to liable air carrier. 

If it is going to cost more to destroy cargo through a third party, or there are no third party facilities nearby to destroy cargo, cargo can be destroyed in house  and an in-house destruction certificate may be issued. Please bear in mind that the possibility to destroy cargo in house is not applicable for hazardous cargo and other restricted commodities. 

Destruction certificate in the cargo claim process serves as a legal document evidencing that cargo was total loss at the arrival, was not suitable for animal or human consumption, could not be salvaged and had to be destroyed. As a result, the importer claims total loss compensation from the air carrier. 

In case cargo has to be destroyed, it is always good practice  to photograph or take video of  the damaged cargo  and destruction process to evidence loss extent.  It suffices to document this evidence with your smartphone, no need for fancy apps to record the fact. 

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