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Bills of Lading, Telex Releases, Sea Waybill - What are the differences?

Bills of lading, we have been using these documents for sea freight shipping for over 100 years and they are a legal document and title documents to ownership of goods in transit. However there are other options available and this can cause some confusion. Hopefully this brief explanation of the difference between original bills of lading, telex release bills of lading and sea waybills will give you more of an insight into the advantages and disadvantages of each document and allow you to make a more informed choice in the future.

What Are Original Negotiable Bills Of Lading?

With original bills of lading there will be a stipulated number of original bills of lading issued which should be stamped and signed by the carrier and show the laden on board date for your shipment. The holder of the original bills of lading has legal title to the goods and therefore controls the release of said goods. Without at least one original bill of lading correctly endorsed by parties shown on the bill of lading and handed to the carrier at destination the goods will not be released to the consignee. This serves as protection for the shipper at port of loading who can proceed with shipment knowing that he will be able to hold onto the original bills of lading and therefore the goods until he has received payment from the consignee at port of destination.

What To Do If The Shipper Sends You ALL The Original Bills of Lading?

If the shipper sends you all original bills of lading then make sure that you only send one to the carrier at port of destination (duly endorsed). One original bill of lading and payment of any outstanding local charges to the carrier should be enough to gain release of your cargo, however if you send all originals and they are lost in the post / courier you and your supplier may need to complete indemnities and have them counter signed by your banks so that the carrier can discharge responsibility if they release the goods without any original bills of lading.

Telex Release Bills Of Lading

The term "Telex Release" may be slightly antiquated these day's, but for some reason it stuck.

This machine was the prequal to faxes and emails and I guess was the first automated delivery method for advising of a surrendered bill of lading so the phrase "Telex Release" was coined back in the day and has never changed.

All that "Telex Release" means is that your supplier has received original bills of lading form the carrier and as opposed to sending originals to you he has returned them to the carrier (endorsed) and asked them to make bill of lading "telex release".

You now do not need to present any original bills of lading at destination to get release of your goods.

Payment of any outstanding local charges to the carrier should suffice. Important to note that if supplier is asking for a telex release to be issued he must return all the original bilsl of lading that carrier issued and not only one, this is so that there are no original bills of lading in circulation which may create issues if there is also a telex release.

Also worth noting that nowadays many carriers charge a fee for issuing a "Telex Release". These fees vary from carrier to carrier but in China for example is usually between US$ 50.00 - 75.00 at the time of publishing this blog.

What is a Sea Waybill?

For two parties who are conducting regular Intl business together and have credit line in place etc. the Sea Waybill would be obvious choice, A Sew Waybill is a non-negotiable document and is issued by the carrier without any originals. This means that the supplier does not have to arrange or pay for a telex release or send original bills of lading forward by courier and the consignee does not need to worry about presenting endorsed original bills of lading to the carrier at destination.

For a sea waybill to be issued the carrier may impose certain conditions such as the shipper . consignee having a valid credit line with the carrier and the completion of an indemnity.

If you need any further advice or assistance please contact us via our website www.mannson.com.