Said to Contain (STC)

What is
Said to Contain (STC)

The term "Said to Contain" (STC) is integral to the shipping and freight forwarding industry, particularly concerning bills of lading. It represents a specific clause used by shippers to describe the contents of a container without necessitating the carrier's verification of the actual contents. This article delves into the technical and practical aspects of the STC clause, exploring its implications in the freight and supply chain sectors.

Definition and Usage in Bills of Lading

Said to Contain is a notation used by the shipper in the bill of lading to inform the carrier about the nature and quantity of goods in a closed container loaded onto a vessel. It appears below the 'description of goods' column on the bill of lading. The carrier, typically, does not inspect or confirm that the goods declared in the bill of lading match the actual goods received. This clause is especially critical in Full Container Load (FCL) shipments where the shipping line is not involved in the packing of the container and, thus, cannot verify the contents.

Legal Implications

Legally, the STC term signifies a disclaimer on ocean bills of lading. It indicates that the ocean carrier did not verify the type, quantity, or condition of the cargo upon receiving the loaded and sealed container for transport. The carrier, therefore, is not responsible for the contents' condition but only for the total number of packages, particularly in Less Container Load shipments.

Practical Implications in Freight and Supply Chain Management

In freight forwarding and supply chain management, understanding the STC clause is crucial for mitigating risks and ensuring proper accountability. When a bill of lading reads, for instance, “1×20′ container Said To Contain 750 x 25 kg bags of Sugar,” it means the carrier is unaware of whether the actual contents match this description. If a discrepancy arises at the destination, such as a shortage of bags, the STC clause serves as a protective measure for the carrier against claims of shortage or loss.

Concerns and Restrictions

Some authorities, like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), view the STC clause as too generic, raising concerns about security threats such as smuggling. Post-9/11, the CBP in the USA advised against accepting the STC Clause on cargo manifests submitted by shipping lines, although it may still be used in bills of lading with a precise description of the cargo.

Industry Relevance

The STC clause plays a pivotal role in ocean and air freight, especially in FCL shipments. It helps delineate responsibilities and liabilities between the shipper and the carrier. For shippers, it's a declaration of contents based on their knowledge and packing. For carriers, it's a safeguard against potential claims related to cargo discrepancies.


In the freight forwarding and supply chain sectors, the "Said to Contain" clause is more than a mere formality. It represents an essential aspect of the contractual agreement between shippers and carriers, reflecting the limitations of cargo verification in sealed containers. While it offers protection to carriers against certain claims, it also underscores the need for accurate and honest declarations by shippers. Understanding the nuances of this clause is vital for professionals in the freight and supply chain industries to manage risks and maintain compliance effectively.

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