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The sort and amount of all commodities carried onboard a vessel, categorised by Bill of Lading number, prepared by the vessel’s Master.

Manifest Legal Definition


The sort and amount of all commodities carried onboard a vessel, categorised by Bill of Lading number, prepared by the vessel’s Master. A written document conveying an accurate record of a ship’s or commercial vessel’s cargo.

Act of the 2nd of March, 1799

The Act of March 2, 1799, states that when goods, wares, or merchandise are brought into the United States from any foreign port or place, in any ship or vessel belonging, in whole or in part, to a citizen or inhabitant of the United States, the manifest must be in writing, signed by the master of the vessel, and must contain the names of the places where the goods in such manifest mentioned, have been respectively taken on board, and the places within the United States.

the name, description, and construction of such vessel, as well as its actual admeasurement or tonnage,

accordance to her registry, the location to which she belongs, as well as the names of each owner

her master’s surname,

… a reasonable and exact account of the commodities thus loaded on board, whether in package or stored loose, of whatever type, with the markings and numbers on each package,

the numbers and detailed descriptions of the packages, whether leaguer, pipe, butt, puncheon, hogshead, barrel, keg, case, bale, pack, truss, chest, box, bandbox, bundle, parcel, cask, or any other type of package, each described by its normal denomination;

the names of the individuals to whom they are separately committed, in accordance with the bills of lading, unless the items are consigned to order, in which case it should be expressly stated;

the names of the various passengers on board, differentiating whether they are cabin or steerage passengers, or both, together with their luggage, stating the quantity and type of packages belonging to each, correspondingly; and an account of the remaining sea provisions, if any.

Moreover, if any item is imported and is bound for multiple districts or ports, the quantities and packages must be included in the manifest in sequential order.

All spirits, wines, and teas composing the whole or a portion of the cargo of any vessel should be put in sequential order, indicating the ports to which they may be intended, as well as the types, quality, and amounts thereof;

Moreover, if merchandise is imported by citizens or residents of the United States in vessels other than those of the United States, the manifests shall be of the form and shall contain the aforementioned particulars, except that the vessel shall be specially described as provided by a form in the act.

The absence of a manifest in situations when one is necessary, or where the manifest is incorrect, is harshly penalised. Evidence. That which is obvious and does not need evidence; that which is well-known.