What is a Delivery Order?


A delivery order acts as authorization or confirmation for the shipping of goods from one place to another. It includes valuable tracking information and details about the goods’ delivery destination.

A delivery order can be issued by the seller or a freight forwarding agent. It can be a vital document for international shipping businesses as there are several parties involved in handling goods.

Let us discuss what is a delivery order and how does it work.

What is a Delivery Order?

A delivery order is a document that is issued by the shipper or an agent to instruct the release or shipment of goods (container or packed) to a particular address or another party.

A delivery order is used in several forms. It can be used in domestic order fulfillment and international trades for import orders. At different scales, the delivery order would serve the same purpose of notifying the holder of goods to dispatch them at a particular address or handover to another party.

For domestic delivery orders such as a food order, the responsibility of the package shifts from the seller of the product to the courier (that can be the same party or an outsourced delivery service).

For international trade transactions, the delivery order transfers the responsibility of the goods from the carrier to a freight forwarder usually.

What are the Types of Delivery Order

A delivery order can be used at various places for transferring the responsibility of goods from one party to another or the end-user. Thus, there are different types of delivery orders that are commonly in use.

  • Food Delivery Order: Commonly used at food outlets.
  • Goods Delivery Order: Used by most domestic businesses to deliver their products from one place to another.
  • Container Delivery Order: It is commonly used by international shipping companies.
  • Freight Delivery Order: It is commonly used by freight forwarding companies.
  • Shipping Line Delivery Order: It is used in the shipping of international goods and for transferring the possession from the carrier to the freight forwarders.
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What Information is Included in a Delivery Order?

A delivery order can have a different format depending on the issuer. For instance, local delivery order for a food outlet will have significantly different information from an international delivery order used by a shipper.

Generally, a delivery order will have the following information printed on it.

  • Consigner or Shipper: It is a person or a company that issues the delivery order. The issuer can be different from the buyer of goods.
  • Consignee or Recipient: It can be the end-user of the shipped goods or a third-party service provider that receives the goods from the shipper.
  • Reference Number: A unique identification number that tracks the delivery of goods.
  • Date: The delivery order creation date and it may contain an estimated delivery time as well.
  • Carrier Information: This section includes information about the mode of carriage or transportation means used to ship goods from one place to another.
  • Shipment Details: This detailed section contains information about the quantity, packaging, and delivery details of goods being transported from one place to another.

Importance of Using a Delivery Order

A delivery order is a vital communication document that helps shippers and receivers to track the status of goods. Particularly, it can help all parties involved in the shipping of goods in international trade.

For domestic businesses, a delivery order can be a short and quick document template that is used to fulfill delivery orders. For example, a food outlet can use the form to create a delivery order instantly. It can then use the information recorded on the form to track the delivery status and for internal analysis purposes later.

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Similarly, international shipments involve several carriers, freight forwarders, and shipping agents in a single trade transaction. A delivery order can accompany other shipping documents such as a bill of lading to complete the delivery process.

Features of a Good Delivery Order

Good delivery orders must provide instant and reliable information to all parties involved in the process. Here are a few key features of a food delivery order.

Accurate and Clear

It must provide accurate information about the shipment or products that are to be delivered. Accuracy of information in a delivery order is of utmost importance, as there are several parties involved in handling the order.


Particularly for international shipping delivery orders, the information variable can change over time. Thus, including up-to-date information is very important to provide the right information to all parties.


A good delivery order will include several useful informative points. For instance, information about consigner, consignee, details of goods, reference to shipping documents, delivery date, and so on.

Delivery orders must provide comprehensive information in quick time so that it becomes more useful for the users.

Delivery Order v Delivery Note

A delivery note is a separate document from the delivery order. It is issued by the carrier or seller of the goods to accompany the goods.

The purpose of the delivery note is to provide a checklist to the receiver. The receiver can use the delivery note to match the goods received against their purchase orders. Usually, a copy of a delivery note is signed and returned by the receiver for the shipper’s record.

The sender can use the delivery note for the confirmation of goods delivery. Thus, it serves different purposes from a delivery order that is more like an authorization to ship the documents.

Delivery Order v Purchase Order

Both types of orders serve and help in a trade transaction. However, both of these documents serve different purposes.

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A purchase order is issued by a buyer for a seller or a vendor. It provides details about the products/goods being purchased, price, quantity, and delivery terms. It may also include several other informative points such as discounts, product customization, and taxation.

On the other hand, a delivery order acts as an authorization document for the shipper to transfer the goods to the end receiver or another party. Although both documents help to complete a trade transaction, they differ in functionalities.

Delivery Order v Task Order

The task order is not a mandatory document in a shipping process. However, many businesses use it to delegate tasks if there are more parties involved in the shipping and handling of goods.

A task order specifies tasks required by a person or a company before the goods can be shipped to the final destination. For instance, a middleman may need to relabel received products from the seller before finally shipping them to the buyer.

Even though both order forms look similar, they possess different information and instructions for carriers and shipping agents.

Delivery Order v Sale Order

The sale order is issued by the seller after confirmation from the buyer in the form of the purchase order. Although it serves the same purpose it is different in nature from a delivery order.

As discussed above, a delivery order is a confirmation or authorization to transfer the goods from one place to another. A delivery order can be used for shipping the goods to the final destination or for a middle man.

On the other hand, a sale order is a confirmation of buying goods from the buyer. A seller can then use the sale order to proceed with the manufacturing or packaging of goods.