Difference between Airway Bill and Bill of Lading.

 The information provided here is part of Export Import Online Tutorial


Difference between Airway Bill and Bill of Lading.


After introduction of this website, I have been receiving many enquiries and clarifications on different subjects on daily basis. Please accept my apology on my inability to reply individually for all questions. However, I treat each question of you a valuable one. You can certainly expect reply on all of your questions in this website as articles which will be posted time to time.

This week, I am clarifying on the questions asked by beginners (among beginners) to this industry related to basics of import and export . So Difference between Airway Bill and Bill of Lading. let us discuss the following comparisons on simple terms in international trade:
Bill of lading and airway bill are the document issued by the carrier of goods while booking cargo with them by shipper.

What is the Airway bill and how does airway bill work? What is the difference between BL and AWB?
Airway bill is issued by air carrier of goods on receipt of goods after completion of export customs formalities of the country. Shipper obtains airway bill once after handing over cargo to them. Since the cargo reaches by air and transit time is too less compared to sea shipment, a set of airway bill is sent along with the cargo for immediate reference on transit and for import customs clearance at destination port by importer. Once after completion of customs formalities at load port customs location, cargo transfer manifest (CTM) issued by IATA agent along with airway bill and other required documents for transportation submits to air carriers. Original airway bills are issued in quintuplicate which is meant for carrier, importer, shipper and additional copies. Once after arrival of cargo at destination, the importer or his cargo agent approaches the destination office of air carrier and collect airway bill and other required documents sent by shipper along with cargo for necessary documentation for import customs clearance procedures and other references. Importer may also collect copies of documents by courier or mail from shipper before arrival of goods.
The shipper also can arrange to send airway bill and other documents through his bank to meet LC requirements or he desires.
The major difference between bill of lading and Airway bill is that, Airway bill is not a document of title. However, airway bill can be prepared in such a way to treat as document of title and negotiable document.

How does bill of lading work?
What is bill of lading? How bill of lading works?.

Bill of lading is a document issued by sea carrier of goods on receipt of cargo to him from the shipper. Bill of lading is issued to shipper after completion of export customs clearance procedures at load port customs location of the country.

After completion of export customs formalities, shipper hands over cargo to sea shipping carrier or his agent. As proof of receipt of goods, sea carrier or his agent issues a document which is called bill of lading. Bill of lading is generally issued in triplicate with non negotiable copies. BL also is issued in quintuplicate on special request by shipper.

Once after obtaining original bill of lading from the sea carrier, shipper submits bill of lading with other documents with his bank, in turn bank sends to importer through importer’s bank. Importer collects bill of lading and other required documents from his bank and arranges for import customs clearance procedures. The shipper can surrender original bill of lading at load port where BL has been released and arranges to send a OBL release message to the counterpart office of sea carrier and advise them to release cargo without insisting for original bill of lading from consignee. The shipper also can release Seaway bill where in no original bill of lading procedures involved.

In short, Airway bill is a document of proof of receipt issued by air carrier of goods to shipper on receipt of goods for on carriage. Where as bill of lading is a document of proof of receipt issued by sea carrier of goods to shipper on receipt of goods for on carriage.  Also read  3 Reasons under Importance of bill of lading in international trade   Different types of Bill of Lading    Is Airway bill a documents of title?      Can two shipments under different schemes be under one Airway bill?


The above information is a part of Import Export Training online


STALE BILL OF LADING What does it mean?   Difference between Clean On Board Bill of Lading and Shipped On Board Bill of Lading.   Can Original Bill of lading be surrendered under DP terms of payment  Can Original Bill of lading be surrendered under LC at sight   Can Bill of Lading be surrendered on LC terms   How to obtain a duplicate BL, if original bill of lading lost?  Can a Bill of Lading be consigned to a customs broker?   Can I get bill of lading before loading cargo   Can two consignments meant for one buyer be shipped together under one Bill of Lading?    Consignee To Order in Bill of Lading    How to avoid delay in receiving OBL Original Bill of Lading?   Amendment of Bill of Lading    How to amend shipper details in Bill of Lading?.   How to surrender HBL House Bill of Lading   Surrender of Bill of Lading Some facts How does Bill of Lading work in Sight LC.   How does Bill of Lading work in DP payment terms?   Can a Bill of Lading (BL) be predated for LC negotiation?   What is the earliest date can be mentioned on Bill of Lading. Can BL date and let export date be same day?   Can shipping line predate Bill of Lading,What is the earliest date can be mentioned on Bill of Lading.    What is Said to weigh in Bill of Lading   What is Shipper Load, stow and count in Bill of Lading    What is said to contain in Bill of Lading.   Can an importer take delivery of goods without original bill of lading?  What is House BL House Bill of Lading   Can Bill of Lading (BL) be before date of Certificate of origin GSP?   What is Express Release Bill of Lading?  Can Bill of Lading be surrendered at port of loading?    Transferability of Bill of Lading  What is charter party bill of lading ?   How  transshipment bill of lading works?   What is Combined Bill of Lading / Multi model Bill of Lading   Unclean Bill of Lading/Claused bill of lading/foul bill of lading/Dirty Bill of Lading   What is Clean on board Bill of Lading?  Is received for shipment Bill of Lading sufficient for LC negotiation?  Different types of Bill of Lading   3 Reasons under Importance of bill of lading in international trade   When can an exporter get bill of lading from shipping company?   

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I hope I could clarify, Airway bill Vs Bill of lading – How does airway bill work and how bill of lading works and how to differentiate airway bill and bill of lading.

Please discuss below your thoughts on this subject.


satish nair: Dear Sir, Very good Site and insightful information is provided. Thanks & Rgds Satish Nair

Neema Mollel: an airway bill is the document which acts as contract of carriage goods by air and it is between shipper and carrier. master airway bill is a airway bill which shows the list of different airway bill of different shipper. port discharge is the process doing documentation and payment of all costs and inspection for the cargo in the port while port deliver is the process of allow cargo to go out of port after port discharge complete,

Pramod p. Surte: Question is wellm explained, thank you Pramod Surte

Bharatsinh Chavda : I mostly visit your website whenever I need any kind of help for any queries. right now I want to clarify some questions which can be cleared only by expert like you. My query is that can I add my name in Airway bill under letter of credit. Because I told my bank you are taking 110 % amount against issuance of lc so why should I mention your name as a consignee in Airway bill. I told my bank if you are taking 80 % of 70 % of amount from me, then you can add your name as a consignee. You're taking 100 % for me so I do not want to mention your name as a consignee., can this possible? Also I have deleted two clause 42c and 42d. My bank told me that we will not take surety of payment because reimbursement bank will pay directly to the supplier. His Bank will check the documents before paying amount to buyer? My bank don't clarify this. Is there any risk by deleting these 2 clauses? Also I want to clarify two classes can I delete clause 49 and 53d under letter of credit. Is it safe to delete these classes. Because I don't want to pay extra payment to bank like confirmation changes

Rakesh Jain: I am a online seller. I sell books online and ship mainly to US. My customers are students and most of the packets carry one book only valuing an average of 20 to 30$. The orders are collected by a agent in USA. He passes on the orders to us and we ship directly to buyers. The buyer then makes payment to us in bulk, covering a number of shipments. These shipments are sent through DHL courier. DHL treats Books as documents and takes them in document mode. Our bank is asking for custom documents against the foreign payment received by us. We only have DHL invoices and DHL awb copies as proof. There is no custom document from DHL as the packets are carried under document category. AND we do not claim any export benefits. Please advice how to convince the bank to accept DHL invoices as proof of export.

NITIN PATIL: Dear Sir, thanks to create website like this. this articles is very useful to new importer & Exporter. one more doubt i have i.e. is there have "BILL OF LADING' document in EXPORT by AIR CARRIER.

Debasish Ray: One is Sea Bill of lading the other is Air Waybill of lading. The main difference is that SBL is a negotiable document and an AWB is a non-negotiable document. CTM is a Cargo transfer manifest which is purely an airline document and is used to transfer cargo between one airline to another. No IATA cargo agent can issue a CTM.

Debasish Ray: It is not AIRWAY BILL the correct is AIR WAYBILL.

selina: why is Airway bill is not a document of title? And, in which way Bill of lading (sea) is a document of title? Why is Airway Bill non negotialble? In which way sea bill of lading is Negotiable?

ajay shukla: Sir, can the AIR WAYBILL be switched ? or can a switch air waybill be issued? if yes what is the process ?

Mr.Keyur Dafda: How to arrange export Investments.?

Frank Buck: I'm a little confused brother because I'm involved with transporting gold and they tell us we need a bill of lading when it is coming with a diplomat Customs agent by air! All we should need is a airway bill correct correction air WayBill... I understood the correction you made before. Please verify if there is any extra steps needed to transport gold and Jewelry from Ghana to United States specifically Minneapolis port.. thank you for your very clear presentation of this matter. God bless you

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