Freight Knowledge Base Centre

Resources and FAQs on freight forwarding for logistics and supply chain professionals

What is a shipping Bill?

Shipping goods from point A to point B involves several formalities. The shipping bill is a document issued by the Customs Service Center and is an important document that’s required to acquire clearance from the customs authorities. A shipper cannot load his goods unless he produces this document. Along with customs clearance and permission to load goods, the document also facilitates getting claim duty drawbacks.

What is the procedure for Shipping Bill generation?

The procedure for generating a Shipping Bill is as follows:

  • The shipper has to register with the Customs with either their IEC code number or else their Custom House Agents (CHA) license number. He also needs to register the authorised dealer code number of the bank that will realise the export proceeds.
  • Along with a copy of the packing list and freight invoice, a declaration in the standard format that is signed by the authorised CHA or the shipper himself has to be submitted at the service centre.
  • Upon completion of the data entry process, the shipper gets a checklist that is generated through the process. The shipper is expected to verify the data and inform the service centre in case of any discrepancies.
  • After verification, it gets processed automatically. In case the value of the goods being exported is more than Rs.10 lakhs or the drawback amount is more than one lakh or has samples that are free and worth Rs.20,000, then the document will be assessed by the Assistant Commissioner of exports.
  • Once the processing is over, the shipper can track the status of the bill by coordinating with the service centre.
  • The shipper/CHA needs to submit original documents including a packing list, invoice, etc. at the dock along with a checklist.
  • After the officer in charge makes sure that everything is in order, he will issue a ‘Let export order,’ post which printout of the shipping bill is generated.

What is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading often abbreviated as BOL or B/L is one of the most crucial documents required while shipping goods. It acts as a legally binding ‘evidence’ of the contract between the shipper and carrier to transport goods from point A to B as per the sales contract agreed upon by the shipper and consignee.

It is issued by the carrier or their agent to acknowledge that the cargo has been received by them to be shipped from the origin port to the destination.

The information mentioned in this document has to be precise as it determines how the goods will be handled, billed, where they will go, etc. Mistakes in this document can directly affect the delivery of the freight.

What is an AWB and its purpose?

Also known as an Air Consignment Note, AWB or Airway Way Bill is a non-negotiable document that an air carrier issues to acknowledge that they've received a shipment. It acts as a receipt for the shipper.

What is a Bill of Entry?

The document indicates the destination address of the shipment and contact information of the consignee. An AWB serves a similar function to ocean bills of lading, however, an AWB is issued in non-negotiable form. That means there's less protection with an AWB as against a bill of lading.

There are multiple copies of AWB and all stakeholders involved in getting the shipment from point A to B document it.

What is a Bill of Entry?

A bill of entry is a legally binding document filed on or before imported goods arrive by consignees or custom clearance agents.

The document is submitted as a part of the customs clearance procedure to the customs department. This submission allows the consignee to claim ITC on the concerned goods. Typically, the bill is issued either for bond clearance or home consumption.

On filing the bill of entry, an authorised customs officer examines the goods. Following which the consignee can clear the goods by paying the basic customs duty, IGST, and GST compensation cess.

What is HAWB?

House airwaybill or HAWB is one of the documents used while shipping goods by air. It is issued and signed by a freight forwarding agent and it serves as an evidence of the terms and conditions as specified by the freight forwarder for carrying the goods.

House airway Bill or HAWB: HAWB is issued by a freight forwarder on receipt of goods from the shipper agreeing to deliver goods at the destination.

What is an HBL?

A House Bill of Lading or HBL is a document generated by an Ocean Transport Intermediary (OTI) such as a non-vessel operating company (NVOCC) or a freight forwarder.

A HBL carries the name and address of the supplier who is responsible for delivering the shipment to the forwarder. It also has the details of the consignee to whom the freight forwarder delivers the shipment to.

It also includes detailed information about the items to be shipped and the value of the shipping contract.

What is the difference between HBL and MBL?

A bill of lading is issued as either a House Bill of Lading or a Master Bill of Lading.

A House Bill of lading or else HBL is issued by a freight forwarder or an NVOCC operator to their clients. Whereas, a Master Bill of Lading or MBL is issued by the carrier to the NVOCC operator or forwarder.

HBL vs. MBL:

The shipper is usually the actual exporter of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)The shipper is usually the freight forwarder or NVOC operator or their agent
The consignee is usually the actual importer of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)The consignee is usually the office of the NVOCC operator or the freight forwarder or destination agent or counterpart
The notify could be the same as consignee (or any other party as dictated by the L/C)The Notify could be the same as consignee or any other party