Air Bill vs Bill of Lading


During this month, my focus is to provide clarity to newcomers in the industry about the basics of import and export. In this regard, I will compare and explain the differences between two important documents used in international trade - the Bill of Lading (BL) and the Airway Bill (AWB).
When a shipper books their cargo with a carrier, the carrier issues two documents - the Bill of Lading for sea shipments and the Airway Bill for air shipments. The Airway Bill is provided to the shipper once the air carrier receives the goods after completing export customs formalities. Since air shipments have shorter transit times, the Airway Bill is sent along with the cargo for immediate reference during transit and for import customs clearance at the destination port.

Once the customs formalities are completed at the load port, the cargo transfer manifest (CTM), along with the Airway Bill and other required documents for transportation, is submitted to the air carrier. The Airway Bill is issued in quintuplicate, with copies meant for the carrier, importer, shipper, and additional copies. After the cargo arrives at the destination, the importer or their agent collects the Airway Bill and other required documents for necessary documentation for import customs clearance procedures and other references. The shipper can also send the Airway Bill and other documents through their bank to meet LC requirements or for their convenience.
The primary difference between the Bill of Lading and the Airway Bill is that the former is a document of title, while the latter is not. However, the Airway Bill can be prepared in a negotiable format to function as a document of title.
In summary, the Bill of Lading and the Airway Bill are both essential documents used in international trade. While the Bill of Lading is used for sea shipments, the Airway Bill is used for air shipments. The Bill of Lading is a document of title, whereas the Airway Bill is not, but it can be prepared as a negotiable document.

The TWeE group company is based in Barcelona and has all of the export, import, and distribution certifications for Food Product Scouting for the 27 countries that comprise the European Union.


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