When shipping cargo, you will need to use either a Bill of Lading (BOL) or a Sea Waybill (SWB). But what’s the difference between the two?
Below we’ll outline the key differences between a BOL and a Sea Waybill, their role, and which is more favorable for you.
What Is Bill Of Lading?
The Bill of Lading (B/L) is a document that details the shipment of goods from one party to another. The B/L is a contract between the shipper and the carrier, and it outlines the terms of the agreement.
Some of the key information included in a B/L includes:
-The name and contact information of the shipper and receiver
-The mode of transportation (air, sea, road, etc.)
-The weight and dimensions of the package
-The cargo being shipped
-The bill of lading number
The B/L also serves as proof of ownership for the cargo.
Functions Of A Bill Of Lading
A Bill of Lading is a document that acts as a receipt for the goods that have been shipped. It also acts as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. This document contains important information such as the name of the consignee, the type of goods being shipped, the weight of the goods, and other important particulars.
The Bill of Lading also serves as a document of title. This means that it can be used as proof of ownership of the goods that have been shipped. If there is a dispute over ownership of the goods, then the Bill of Lading will provide proof that the shipper is indeed the rightful owner.
In short, an original bill of lading is issued by the carriers or freight forwarders to the shipper once all relevant documents are submitted to the customs and port authorities at the origin port.
The original bill of lading serves all 3 purposes:
- Acknowledge Receipt of Cargo
- Document of Title to the Goods
- Evidence of Contract of Carriage
What Does A Bill Of Lading Contain?
A Bill of Lading is a contract between the shipper and the carrier of goods. It is a receipt for the goods and a document of title. The Bill of Lading also contains terms and conditions of the contract, as well as an indication of the weight and/or volume of the shipment.
It’s important to note that a Bill of Lading is not a contract of carriage. That’s because it doesn’t specifically state who is responsible for delivering the goods. It does, however, provide evidence of the contract between the shipper and the carrier.
What Is Sea Way Bill Of Lading?
So let’s take a look at the Sea Waybill. The biggest difference here is that it’s not a negotiable document, and it can’t be used for proof of ownership. It’s more of a receipt for shipping services, and it’s usually created by freight forwarders or ocean carriers.
The Sea Waybill also doesn’t need to contain the same information that a Bill of Lading does, but instead it focuses more on the carrier’s responsibility to ship the goods in exchange for payment from the shipper. It should contain basic information such as the date of shipment, sender and recipient information, cargo details and other relevant information about the shipment.
The Sea Waybill is used mainly for short voyages between two ports, whereas the Bill of Lading is used for longer voyages that involve multiple stops along the way. The lack of necessity to provide clear title with a Sea Waybill makes it convenient when transporting goods between two parties in one region quickly.
Functions Of A Sea Waybill
The purpose of the Sea Waybill is similar to the one of the B/L; however, unlike the Bill of Lading, the Sea Waybill does not function as a ‘document of title’ which makes a significant difference. A Sea Waybill of Lading serves only 2 purposes:
- Evidence of Contract of Carriage
- Acknowledge Receipt of Cargo
The Sea Waybill is a simpler document, and its purpose is to document an agreement between the buyer and seller. It’s also used to provide proof of shipment, but it doesn’t act as a receipt like the Bill of Lading does.
Another difference between the two documents is that the Sea Waybill doesn’t need to be signed by either party. Instead, it’s typically issued via electronic transmission and accepted by both sides. This makes the process much more streamlined and efficient.
The Sea Waybill also does not include any information about the cargo itself, so it can’t be used for customs clearance or for insurance purposes. The most important thing about a Sea Waybill is that it acts as evidence of an agreement between the parties involved in the transaction.
Differences Between the Bill of Lading and Sea Waybill
When it comes to the differences between the Bill of Lading and Sea Waybill, there are several key points of distinction. The most important thing to remember is that a Sea Waybill is used when goods are shipped directly from one port to another, while a Bill of Lading is used when either goods need to be stored in between ports, or the goods are being shipped to more than one destination.
The difference in these two types of documents dictates how they are signed by the shipper and receiver. For example, with a Sea Waybill, both parties sign the same document when it’s issued, while with a Bill of Lading, different documents must be issued for each port and location. Additionally, carriers are not responsible for damage or loss with a Sea Waybill until the goods are loaded onto their ship.
Finally, when using a Bill of Lading there is usually an obligation to surrender all the originals at destination in order for discharge to happen at some ports – this is an obligation that does not exist with a Sea Waybill. So understanding this difference – and which one you should use for your shipment – can save you time and money!
Who Is Liable in Case of Damage or Non-Delivery?
A key difference between the Bill of Lading and the Sea Waybill is who is liable in case of damage or non-delivery. With a Bill of Lading, the carrier is liable for any damages, whereas with a Sea Waybill, it’s up to you as the importer to determine who is liable and then settle any claims.
The Bill of Lading protects you as the consignee by clearly laying out who has “carriage responsibility” and requires the carrier to deliver your goods in good condition, using due diligence. They are legally obliged to take care of your items and will be fully accountable if your goods get damaged or lost.
In contrast, if you’re using a Sea Waybill, there isn’t a legal document that lays out these responsibilities. Depending on how you set up your contract with the carrier (and what terms you agree to), they may not be responsible for damages or losses—it’s important to always read and understand all contracts before signing.
When Should I Use a Bill of Lading Instead of a Sea Waybill?
If you’re carrying goods that need to be documented and tracked, then a bill of lading is the way to go. It’s more detailed and provides more evidence of delivery, which is perfect if you’re dealing with fragile goods or hazardous materials. You can also state conditions or special instructions on a bill of lading, which helps protect your interests as the shipper.
This is also the document you want to use if you need proof of delivery for legal reasons. The bill of lading can be used in court proceedings and other purposes such as international trade compliance. The sea waybill does not offer these benefits.
So before shipping any kind of good, decide between the two documents to select the best one for your needs. If you need extra safety when shipping something valuable or sensitive, go with a bill of lading – it’s your best bet!
What Legal Implications Should I Be Aware of When Using a Bill of Lading or Sea Waybill?
One last but important thing to consider when deciding between a bill of lading and a sea waybill is the legal implications. This has to do with the different types of liabilities that you may be exposed to if a problem arises during the shipping process.
Generally speaking, the bill of lading provides more protection than a sea waybill, since it is considered a legal contract between the shipper and the carrier. By signing it, you can be certain that your goods will be delivered as specified in the contract. On the other hand, sea waybills are known for being less binding, so that’s something you need to be aware of if your goods are particularly valuable or fragile.
It’s always best to consult with freight experts and make sure you understand all of your legal obligations before opting for one or the other. That’ll help ensure you’re making an informed decision that best protects both your goods and you as a shipper.
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