Letter of Indemnity (LOI)

What is
Letter of Indemnity (LOI)

A “Letter of Indemnity” is a contractual document in which one party (typically the shipper) agrees to indemnify another party (usually the carrier or consignee) against potential losses or damages. This agreement ensures that the carrier can proceed with certain actions, such as releasing cargo without the original bill of lading, without fearing legal repercussions.

Key Elements of a Letter of Indemnity

  • Parties Involved: The LOI specifies the parties involved, including the shipper, carrier, and consignee.
  • Obligations: The document outlines the shipper's obligations, particularly in terms of compensating them for losses or damages.
  • Circumstances Covered: It details the specific circumstances under which the indemnity is provided, such as missing or incorrect documentation.
  • Validity and Duration: The LOI states the period during which it is valid and any conditions that might affect its enforceability.

Importance of a Letter of Indemnity

  • Risk Mitigation: The primary purpose of an LOI is to mitigate risks associated with the transportation of goods. It provides a safety net for carriers and consignees.
  • Facilitates Smooth Operations: By offering a guarantee, an LOI ensures that goods can be delivered, or actions taken without delay, even in the absence of proper documentation.
  • Legal Protection: It offers legal protection to the carrier, ensuring they are not held liable for actions taken based on the shipper's assurances.

Common Scenarios for Using a Letter of Indemnity

  • Release of Cargo Without Original Bill of Lading: Often, goods arrive at their destination before the original bill of lading. An LOI allows the carrier to release the cargo to the consignee without the original document.
  • Incorrect or Incomplete Documentation: If there are errors or omissions in the shipping documents, an LOI provides the necessary indemnity to cover potential losses.
  • Switching Bills of Lading: In some cases, the shipper may request a change in the bill of lading details after the cargo has been shipped. An LOI can cover the carrier for any risks associated with this change.

Drafting a Letter of Indemnity

When drafting an LOI, it is crucial to include specific details to ensure its enforceability:

  • Clear Identification of Parties: Include the names and addresses of the shipper, carrier, and consignee.
  • Precise Description of Goods: Detail the goods being shipped, including quantity, weight, and any identifying marks.
  • Specific Indemnity Conditions: Clearly outline the conditions under which the indemnity applies.
  • Legal Language: Use precise legal language to avoid ambiguities that could lead to disputes.


A Letter of Indemnity (LOI) is a vital document in freight forwarding. It ensures that the shipper takes responsibility for any potential damage or loss of goods due to breaches of contract, providing security and trust among all parties involved. Whether it is for the release of cargo without the original bill of lading or covering incorrect documentation, an LOI is essential for smooth and efficient transportation of goods.

Contact Shipthis today to learn more about how a well-crafted Letter of Indemnity can protect your interests and enhance your freight forwarding operations.  

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