What is the Scope of Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI)?

A Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI) is a process that mitigates import risks by ensuring that products meet buyer specifications before shipment. This inspection checks for defects and verifies that the products adhere to the quality and safety standards of the destination market. This proactive measure allows buyers to make informed decisions about accepting or rejecting shipments before they leave the supplier.

At Pro QC, we have 40 years of experience in conducting pre-shipment inspections worldwide. We focus on every aspect of the inspection process, from checking products to reviewing documents, to ensure they meet quality and regulatory standards.

In the following sections, we share our expertise on the various components of pre-shipment inspection, offering a comprehensive overview of its scope and significance in international trade.

Scope of Pre-shipment Inspection

PSI encompasses several critical areas to ensure products meet the required standards before shipping. Here is the scope of pre-shipment inspection:

  • Product Verification
  • Packaging and Labeling Inspection
  • Compliance with Standards and Regulations
  • Functional and Safety Testing

Let’s delve into the details of each component, starting with product verification.

A. Product Verification

Product verification ensures that products meet the buyer’s requirements and specifications. It involves:

1. Quantity Verification

Inspectors start by verifying the quantity of products to be shipped. They check the number of units against the purchase order to confirm that the correct amount is being prepared. This step helps prevent shortages or excesses that could lead to disputes or logistical issues.

2. Quality Assessment

The quality of the products is thoroughly assessed to ensure they meet the agreed-upon standards. This involves:

  • Visual Inspection: Inspectors examine the products for visible defects such as scratches, dents, or other imperfections. They ensure that the items are aesthetically consistent with the buyer’s specifications.

Illustrative picture of defects identified during a chair inspection

picture of defects

  • Physical and Dimensional Checks: Inspectors measure the product dimensions, weight, and other physical attributes to confirm they match the specifications. This step ensures that products are built to the correct size and shape.

Illustrative picture from a kitchenware inspection

picture from a kitchenware inspection

  • Material Verification: The materials used in the products are checked to ensure they meet the specified standards. This includes verifying the type and grade of materials to ensure durability and compliance with any regulatory requirements.

B. Packaging and Labeling Inspection

This step ensures that products are properly packaged to prevent damage during transit and that all labels are accurate and comply with regulations.

1. Packaging Inspection

The packaging inspection process involves several key checks to ensure the integrity and adequacy of packaging:

  • Material Quality: Inspectors verify the quality of the packaging materials to ensure they are strong enough to protect the products during shipping. This includes checking the sturdiness of boxes, crates, or pallets used for packaging.

Illustrative picture from a motorcycle inspection

picture from a motorcycle inspection

  • Packaging Method: The product packing method is assessed to ensure it follows best practices and specific requirements. This includes examining whether items are adequately cushioned, sealed, and secured to prevent movement and damage.
  • Proper Sealing: Inspectors check that all packages are properly sealed. This prevents tampering and ensures the products remain intact and protected from external elements.
  • Environmental Protection: For products sensitive to environmental factors, inspectors verify that packaging provides adequate protection against moisture, temperature fluctuations, and other environmental conditions.
  • Shipping Carton Drop Test: To verify and check the integrity of the packaging, the Shipping Carton Drop Test is conducted following the ISTA-1A / 2A / 3A Drop Test Procedures. The most common is the ISTA-1A Drop Test Procedure. It entails dropping the packaged product from predetermined heights and orientations to simulate impacts and stresses encountered during handling and transit. This test ensures the packaging is robust enough to protect the product under real-world shipping conditions.

Illustrative picture of a shipping carton drop test

picture of a shipping carton drop test

Illustrative picture of a master carton check

picture of a master carton check

2. Labeling Inspection

Accurate labeling is essential for compliance with regulations and for providing necessary information to end users. The labeling inspection includes:

  • Accuracy of Information: Inspectors verify that all labels contain accurate information, including product descriptions, quantities, and any relevant handling instructions. This ensures that the labels match the specifications and documentation.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Labels are checked for compliance with international and national regulations, including safety warnings, symbols, and other mandatory information. This ensures that the products meet the legal requirements of the destination country.
  • Barcodes and Tracking: Inspectors confirm that barcodes and tracking information are correctly applied and readable. This facilitates efficient logistics management and traceability throughout the supply chain.
  • Shipping Marks: All shipping marks, such as destination addresses, handling instructions, and other important information, are verified for accuracy and visibility. This helps in the smooth processing and handling of the goods during transit.

Illustrative picture of labeling check

picture of labeling check

C. Compliance with Standards and Regulations

Compliance with standards and regulations is a vital aspect of pre-shipment inspection (PSI), ensuring products meet all necessary legal and industry-specific requirements. Here is a detailed explanation:

1. International Standards Compliance

Inspectors ensure that products conform to internationally recognized standards such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). These standards cover a wide range of criteria, including product safety, performance, and quality, which are essential for global market access.

2. National Regulations

Every country has its own set of regulatory requirements that products must meet before they can be imported and sold. These regulations can include safety standards, environmental laws, and specific legal requirements. Inspectors verify that the products comply with these national regulations, helping to avoid issues at customs and ensuring smooth entry into the market.

3. Industry-Specific Standards

Different industries have unique standards and regulations that products must adhere to. For example, electrical products must meet specific safety and performance standards, while food products must comply with health and safety regulations. Inspectors check that products meet these industry-specific standards, ensuring they are safe and suitable for their intended use.

4. Certification Verification

Products often require certifications to prove compliance with certain standards and regulations. Inspectors verify that these certifications are valid and up to date. Examples of such certifications include CE marking for products sold within the European Economic Area, which indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards, and UL certification in the United States, which indicates compliance with product safety standards.

5. Documentation Review

Comprehensive documentation is critical for proving compliance. Inspectors review all relevant documents, including test reports, compliance certificates, and regulatory approvals. This step ensures that all necessary paperwork is in order, providing evidence that the products meet the required standards and regulations.

6. Adherence to Environmental Regulations

Inspectors check that products comply with environmental regulations, which can include restrictions on hazardous substances, waste management protocols, and energy efficiency standards. This helps in minimizing the environmental impact and ensuring products are environmentally sustainable.

7. Health and Safety Compliance

Ensuring that products do not pose health or safety risks is crucial. Inspectors verify compliance with health and safety regulations, which might involve checking for the presence of harmful substances, ensuring safe design and manufacturing processes, and verifying that appropriate warnings and instructions are provided.

D. Functional and Safety Testing

Functional and safety testing ensure that products operate correctly and safely before they are shipped to customers.

1. Functional Testing

Functional testing involves evaluating the product’s performance to ensure it meets the intended use and specifications. This process includes:

  • Operation Check: Inspectors test the basic functions of the product to ensure it operates as expected. This includes turning the product on and off, running it through its operational modes, and verifying that all features work correctly.
  • Performance Evaluation: Inspectors assess the product’s performance under various conditions to ensure it meets the performance criteria. For example, an electronic device might be tested for response time, battery life, or connectivity.
  • Durability Testing: Products are tested for their ability to withstand normal wear and tear. This might involve stress testing, impact testing, or running the product continuously for a specified period.

2. Safety Testing

Safety testing ensures that the product does not pose any risks to users. This involves:

  • Electrical Safety: For electrical products, inspectors check for potential hazards such as short circuits, electrical leakage, and proper insulation. They verify that the product complies with safety standards to prevent electric shocks and fires.
  • Mechanical Safety: Inspectors examine the product for mechanical safety, ensuring there are no sharp edges, pinch points, or other hazards that could cause injury.
  • Chemical Safety: Products are tested for the presence of harmful chemicals and substances. This includes verifying compliance with regulations such as RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals).
  • Labeling and Instructions: Inspectors verify that safety labels and instructions are clear and adequate. This includes warning labels, usage instructions, and safety guidelines that help users operate the product safely.

3. Environmental Testing

Some products require environmental testing to ensure they perform well under different conditions. This can include:

  • Temperature and Humidity: Testing the product’s functionality in extreme temperatures and varying humidity levels to ensure it can withstand different environmental conditions.

Illustrative picture from a notebook inspection

picture from a notebook inspection

Illustrative picture from a footwear inspection

picture from a footwear inspection

Illustrative picture from a jewel inspection

picture from a jewel inspection

Illustrative picture from a motorcycle inspection

picture from a motorcycle inspection

Scope of Pre-Shipment Inspection by Industry

The scope of pre-shipment inspection varies according to the buyer’s requirements and product category. Pro QC has developed a series of articles to share the scope of PSI for specific industries. Find them below to get the full details:


Pre-shipment inspections ensure that products meet quality, safety, and regulatory standards before they are shipped. Through thorough product verification, packaging and labeling inspection, compliance checks, functional and safety testing, and detailed document review, PSI helps mitigate quality risks and ensures smooth logistics.

By addressing the key aspects of product quality and compliance, PSI plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the supply chain, fostering trust between trading partners, and ensuring customer satisfaction. As global trade continues to evolve, the importance of reliable and effective pre-shipment inspections will only grow, making it a crucial element of modern quality assurance practices.

About Us

Pro QC International is a global quality control company that offers quality inspection, factory audit and supplier management services in over 88 countries to help clients identify defects, avoid rework and delays, enhance import efficiency, and protect brand reputation. Our pre-shipment inspection reports are comprehensive, including quantity verification, packaging integrity, visual and functional evaluations, and are delivered swiftly within 24 hours, providing a reliable basis for quality assurance decisions​.

Reach out to us to discuss your projects and obtain a tailored quote contact us.

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