Detailed Information About Cargo Tracking Note

Cargo Tracking Note or the Advanced Shipment Information (CTN/ASHI) is required by over 20 countries in West and Central Africa.

Countries that have adopted the system in the near past are Liberia and Ghana.

Although the procedure and duration of obtaining CTN vary, the importance of the certificate is even across all countries.

Here are all the features of the CTN certificate that you need to know.

What is CTN?

Cargo Tracking Note or simply CTN document is an official loading document a number of African countries require.

The CTN certificate contains detailed information of your cargo and its movement between ports as well as the transit period.

The CTN certificate must accompany any shipment to the country demanding CTN before the cargo arrives at the port.

To ready your goods for clearance through customs, CTN certificates enable destination port authorities to have all necessary information before shipments arrive.

Kyle Hallner
Kyle Hallner

Operations Manager

Contact us Now for Free Consultation

Why is CTN Certificate important?

Port authorities claim that the aim of the CTN is to contribute to the substantial reduction of risk, real-time monitoring and reliable assessments of import goods, their shippers, importers, and other details.

Many Countries in the African continent require exporters to notify Custom Authorities about the shipment details before they arrive.

The Cargo Tracking Note system facilitates this requirement.

The CTN certificate, also known as waiver document, allows Marine Custom Authorities access information about exporter/importer, shipping route and methods, type and value of the consignment, the value of freight as well as the details about commodity being carried.

Remember, It is very important exporter submits the subject document before the cargo arrives at its final destination.

The loading document provides security assurance and allows customs authorities to trace the shipment before it arrives at the port of discharge.

Shipping or arrival without CTN certificate may result in high fines at the destination port.

Also, through the system, each country can maintain statistical data for future logistical monitoring.

Different Names

There are different types of CTN certificate depending on the country of discharge. In fact, these are the same certificate with different names.

Thus, each country requires its own waiver certificate applicable its own regulations and requirements.

The list of types of CTN is as follows:

CTN Certificate Procedure

Every country which requires a CTN has its own requirements and procedures. The above links provide you regulations of each country.

The whole process of obtaining CTN certificate is completed online.  Once you attain all the required documents, you can simply email them to [email protected].

Moreover, The draft CTN certificate is prepared accordingly and sent for your assessment and confirmation.

After you give us green light on the draft and make the necessary payment, the validated certificate will be sent to notify Authorities.

Furthermore, we will send you a copy of the CTN certificate for your information. The whole of the process roughly takes 2 working days.

What are the required documents?

Necessary documents differ from country to country, but mainly there are three documents that you may need.

  1. Bill of Lading
  2. Commercial Invoice
  3. Freight Invoice (Only necessary if the freight value isn’t on the Commercial Invoice)

Since each country has its own necessary documents list, click here to see the individual pages for all the CTN countries.

Who should apply for the CTN?

It is widely used in West African countries. And to be specific, the countries that require the CTN certificate are listed below.

Why do they need it?

There are two main reasons for that:


  • To protect the countries’ benefits:

CTN allows exporters to declare their goods’ values. This is good because it enables the authorities to collect the taxes in their actual values.


  • To track and manage the port traffic:

With CTN, authorities are able to track each cargo’s movements. So, countries that have a shore use it to manage their port’s traffic.

When did CTN first start being used?

In 1994, Angola was the first one to use the CTN certificate. After Angola’s neighbours started to see it’s advantages and benefits, it started to get popular between West African countries. Currently, there are 20+ countries that use the CTN. The last country to start using the CTN is Libya. We are expecting more and more countries to start using the CTN system.

What’s the shipping line’s responsibility about the CTN?

Some port officials, after making the CTN mandatory, decided to charge the shipping lines with penalties if the CTN number isn’t on the original bill of lading. So, shipping lines put pressure on the exporters to put the CTN Number on the original bill of lading so it can’t be changed later on and most importantly they won’t be charged with any kind of penalties.

What are the penalties for not having the CTN?

The penalties can differ from country to country. But generally, cargoes who arrive without a CTN certificate get a penalty fee of twice the certificate cost plus the regulations charges. And on top of all that, your cargo can’t be cleared and will be stuck at the destination port.

Does the incoterm change anything about CTN?

The incoterm of the shipment doesn’t provide any exemptions. It doesn’t matter if the incoterm is CIF, CFR or etc. The exporter would still be responsible for the CTN.

What is the process after obtaining the CTN?

We send the certificate to the customer via email. But for Angola’s CNCA, some Angolan agents ask for the hard-copy of the certificate to be shipped to the customer. There are only a few agents that are still asking for the hard-copy but due to Covid-19 this process is slowly going down.

And if the shipping line asks for the CTN number to be on the original bill of lading, we ask the customer to put it on there.

Are there any exemptions for any institutions?

While there are differences from country to country, in some countries; charities and NGOs are exempt from the CTN certificate in some cases. There is no clear answer for it because of the differences between countries’ regulations. You can contact us to learn if your shipment requires a CTN.

How much time does it take to issue a CTN on average?

It generally takes about 1-2 days. But if the documents aren’t complete or if there is false information on them, the process can take longer. After the draft we prepared gets approved by the customer, we wait for the payment. Then we send the draft to the shipping counselor of the relevant country for the final examination and validation of the CTN.

When should you obtain the CTN?

The CTN must be validated before the ship arrives at the destination port. But the process can take longer than expected. So we advise you to apply for the CTN as soon as the necessary documents are ready.

And there are two countries who require special conditions.

  1. Republic of the Congo: The CTN must be validated after the first 5 days of the vessel’s departure.
  2. Gabon: While changing from region to region, you must get the validated CTN after the first 5-15 days from vessel departure.

Do we have to see the shipment?

A physical inspection in the port or in the factory is not necessary. We prepare the certificate via the documents presented.

Why do you have to pay up-front?

The countries’ systems for the CTN issuance demands an advance payment. And the system doesn’t provide the CTN without getting the payment. That is why we ask for an advance payment from the customers.

Why do you have to get a CTN when you didn’t need it earlier?

CTN for instance in Cameroon first became an obligation in 2002. There are little to none exemptions on this subject. So, either your importer got the CTN on behalf of you with a penalty or your shipping line might have gotten it for you. Because it is a mandatory document, if the shipment didn’t have a CTN, the cargo couldn’t be cleared. Thus, would be stuck at the destination port.

Is CTN necessary for BULK, RoRo or LCL shipments too?

Yes and while CTN is necessary for all sea shipments, in some countries like Madagascar and DR Congo, it is also necessary for air shipments too.

What are the payment options?

We accept payments with credit/debit card. Also, you can pay with your own local currency.