If you are interest in exporting, then, it is crucial that you understand the difference between an airway bill and a seaway bill. The good news is that this post covers the difference between the two.

What Is an Airway Bill?

An airway bill is issued by the air carrier on receipt of the goods once they have completed all of the export customs formalities of a country. The shipper obtains the airway bill after the cargo has been handed over to them. Moreover, as the cargo reaches the destination by air and as the transit time is a lot less than that of sea shipment, the airway bill is sent with the cargo for import customs clearance and reference on transit. The airway bill is presented to the IATA agent for the completion of the customs formatives along with any other required documents as required by the air carrier.

The airway bill is issued in quintuplicate. This means that it is meant for the shipper, importer, carrier, and additional copies. The importer or the cargo agent would approach the office of the air carrier once the cargo has arrived at the desired location to collect the airway bill for necessary documentation by the important customs clearance procedures. The copies of documents can also be collected by the imported by mail or courier from the shipper before the goods arrive. Moreover, the shipper may also arrange the airway bill to be sent through their bank for meeting LC requirements.

What Is a Seaway Bill?

A seaway bill is commonly known as a bill of lading. It is an important document which is issued by the sea carrier of goods once the cargo has been received from the shipper. The bill of lading is only issued after the export customs clearance procedures at the port customs location have been completed. Once the export customs formalities have been completed, the shipper would hand the cargo to their agent or the sea shipping carrier. The document issued as evidence of receipt of goods is known as the bill of lading. It is generally issued in triplicate form with some on-negotiable copies. The bill of lading can also be issued in quintuplicate form depending on whether a special request has been made by the shipper or not.

After the original bill of lading has been obtained from the sea carrier, the shipper will submit the bill of lading along with other documents to the bank and in turn, the bank would send them to the importer through the bank of the importer. The importer would collect the bill of lading along with the other documents from the bank and would ensure that the import customs clearance procedures are done.

Difference between Airway Bill and Bill of Lading

The main difference between an airway bill and a bill of lading is the fact that an airway bill is not a document of title. But, it is possible for the airway bill to be prepared in such as way to be treated as a negotiable document as a document of title.