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Air Waybill

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What is an Air Waybill?


The air waybill is the equivalent of the ocean bill of lading but for air transport. However, the air waybill cannot be negotiable; they may never be consigned “to order of shipper.”

An air waybill is the document that controls the routing of the exporter’s cargo while it is in the hands of the air carrier or a consolidator.

As an exporter, correctly filling out a bill of lading is important if you want to get paid on time. Why? Because it determines the shipment date, and payment date is often associated with shipment date. Financing, too, is often associated with shipment date, as banks often refer to pre-shipment financing or post-shipment financing. Plus, more than 10,000 shipping containers are lost annually. Without a correctly completed bill of lading, that could mean a major headache trying to get compensated for your loss.

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Air Waybill FAQs

  • What is an air waybill used for?

    An air waybill (AWB) is a shipping document used in the air freight industry. It serves as a contract of carriage between the shipper and the airline and as a receipt of the goods being transported. 

  • Where do I get an air waybill?

    Air waybills are typically provided by the airline or the freight forwarder handling the shipment. If you are shipping goods through an airline, you can obtain an air waybill from their cargo office or through their online booking system. Freight forwarders also provide air waybills as part of their services.

  • Who fills out an air waybill?

    The shipper or their authorized representative is responsible for filling out the air waybill. This includes providing accurate information about the shipment, such as the shipper's and consignee's details, the description of the goods, the number of packages, the weight and any special handling instructions. The shipper should ensure the air waybill is completed correctly and signed before handing it over to the airline or the freight forwarder.

  • What are the requirements for an air waybill?

    The specific requirements for an air waybill may vary depending on the airline or country regulations. However, some common requirements include:

    • Complete and accurate shipper and consignee information, including addresses and contact details.
    • Description of the goods, including the nature of the items, their quantity, weight and dimensions.
    • The declared value of the goods for customs and insurance purposes.
    • Any special instructions or handling requirements for the shipment.
    • Signatures of the shipper and/or their authorized representative.

    It is important to check with the airline or freight forwarder to ensure compliance with any additional requirements or specific documentation procedures they may have in place.

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