Sea Waybill

Sea Waybill

Sea Waybill


The Sea Waybill is a transport contract (contract of carriage) - the same as a Bill of Lading. However, a Sea Waybill is not needed for cargo delivery and is only issued as a cargo receipt. This contract can either be issued in hard copy format or soft copy format. A Sea Waybill is not negotiable and cannot be assigned to a third party.

With globalization, international trade has grown, and the rate of operations at seaports has continuously risen over the years. In view of this evolution,

establishing a lading bill has become increasingly complicated because it must integrate a multitude of mandatory indications that conform with the 1924 convention and can only be validated by the transporter. Where sea shipment doesn’t always rely on business transactions, as is the case when partners have developed a mutual trust, or the loading of goods and their reception belong to one group, or where no other document is implicated, the Sea Waybill is the most appropriate solution. Indeed, it allows a speedier process of import-export customs clearance whilst reducing the risk of paying penalties for diverse delays incurred in waiting for approval of the more formal Bill of Lading.


The specificities of the Sea Waybill


To avoid confusing the Sea Waybill with the lading bill or Bill of Lading (BL), it is best to specify the characteristics of each document. As with the Bill of Lading, the Sea Waybill is:

  • A document delivered by the sea or ocean transport agent to its clients.

  • It is transmitted once all invoices relative to the transport have been paid.

  • It is attributed following the transmission of customs documents.


Unlike the Bill of Lading, the Sea Waybill:


  • It is non-negotiable.

  • It applies to non-commercial transactions, generally between companies of a same group.

  • Doesn’t require original copies.

  • Doesn’t represent ownership deeds.


The advantages of the Sea Waybill


Being non-negotiable, the Sea Waybill offers several advantages, beginning with its greater flexibility when compared to the Bill of Lading procedures. Indeed, the person receiving the goods is not required to present an original document to be able to receive the goods. Delivery can be made simply by the use of proof of identity of the recipient and mention of the person’s name as the recipient of the transport contract. As a reminder, in the case of business transactions necessitating a Bill of Lading, the recipient must be in possession of original documents. In the absence of these, the recipient will not be able to collect the goods.


Conditions for delivery of a Sea Waybill


When the exporter and importer are part of the same company or group and the goods transported do not require negotiations, a Sea Waybill is often delivered. A Sea Waybill may also be used when there is no bank involved or where the original invoice is not necessary to ensure payment. The Sea Waybill is also appropriate when no exchange or sales are planned during the transport operations, and in cases where there is mutual trust between the expediter and recipient.


The details indicated on the Sea Waybill


If the Sea Waybill is characterized as being less formal than a Bill of Lading (BOL) and cannot be used as a title deed, there are, however, several details that must be indicated in the document:

  • Identity of the sender

  • Port of boarding

  • Name of ship

  • Port of destination

  • Contact details of recipient

  • Identity of recipient



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