What is an Air waybill and a Sea Waybill

Exporting and Importing can often be an extremely complicated and mundane process as there are so many rules, regulations as well as countless  number of procedures to adhere to. This, many a times, may require to prepare and submit documents for import and export. Usually, freight forwarders would prepare it  for us, but it is also good to know for ourselves as to how to complete the relevant documents by understanding what the terms mean. As such, in our new article series titled “Export Terms”, we would  introduce you to all the various terms used in the international trade, be it through air, land or sea freight. We would roll out one related article on a regular basis, which would help you to get a comprehensive understanding as to the document preparation for the purpose of doing trade internationally.

ship cargo by airfreight for import and export

What is an Air Waybill?

An Air waybill is a type of Bill of Lading (click here if you are not sure of what a Bill of Lading is). The Air waybill acts a contract of carriage between the shipper and carrier through air. As such, it acts as a receipt of goods by airline carriers. The Air Waybill defines the conditions of the carriage, such as the liabilities as well procedures for  claims.  The format is fixed throughout the airline industry where information such as description of goods as well as the charges can be found. However, the Air Waybill is a non- negotiable instrument as compared to the Bill of Lading. As such, it is not a document to the title of the goods. It also does not state on which flight number it travels on as well as when the goods would arrive.

How about a Sea Waybill?

Similar  to the Air Waybill, the Sea Waybill acts a receipt given by the shipping line as well as contract of carriage between the shipper as well as the carrier by sea. In addition, the Sea Waybill is a non negotiable instrument, just like the Air Waybill. Which means that the Sea Waybill is also not a document to the title of the goods. The Sea Waybill can be used to release the cargo immediately to the named consignee as long as the consignee proves his or her identity. This is a good method for choice of document when there is high level of trust between the consignor as well as the consignee. As no additional documents would be needed to submit to the shipping carrier, the cargo could therefore be released when it reaches the port.

To conclude

Both Waybills are non negotiable, act as a contract of carriage between the shipper and carrier, as well as a receipt to the goods.

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