What is a Transmittal Letter?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Transmittal letters are documents that are commonly used in the world of international commerce. The transmittal letter is used as an official document to outline the details of a shipment of securities. Information about the nature of the securities shopped is included, along with relevant data about the actual means of transportation.

A typical transmittal letter describes the contents of the shipment in enough detail that identification and verification of the securities shipped is easily accomplished. At the same time, the letter will include information on who is shipping the securities and who is to receive the security shipment at the point of termination for the transfer.

It is not unusual for a transmittal letter to provide information about the departure date for the shipment, the name of the carrier or courier who is handling the security shipment process, and the anticipated delivery date for the shipment. The detail may also include shipping or tracking numbers that allow both the buyer and the seller to track the progress of the shipment during the time of transport.


One of the main functions of a transmittal letter is to provide a snapshot of the transaction that has taken place. While rarely including information about the purchase price of the securities involved, the transmittal letter will include the number of units that are included in the shipment. The detail will also often provide a brief description of the particulars of the security involved, making it easier for the contents of the shipment to be verified by legal authorities at points of departure and points of entry along the shipping route.

The use of a transmittal letter is common with many types of international trade deals. Along with use in a security shipment, a transmittal letter often accompanies a bill of lading for goods that are sold for delivery to a buyer in another country. The added level of detail can help to make the processing at various customs checkpoints much easier to accomplish, and thus prevent any unnecessary delays in the delivery of the goods.


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