What is Sea Waybill | Meaning, Usage & Difference With BOL

What is a Sea Waybill | Meaning, Usage & Difference With BOL

International trade has exponentially increased, highlighting the need for precise documentation in cross-border trade and logistics.

A sea waybill is a crucial document for transporters and procurers, serving as a shipment receipt and minimizing legal complexities. It ensures goods reach their destination without hassles or delays.

What is Sea Waybill in shipping?

A sea waybill serves as a receipt for the goods being transported and is mostly used in maritime shipments. The document serves as proof between the carrier and the shipper in terms of the contract. The bill ensures that the cargo reaches the intended destination without any hassle or delays. A non-negotiable contract between the ocean carrier and the customer stipulates that the products must be delivered to the designated consignee on time. Similar to a bill of lading , it functions as a transport carriage contract but has unique features.

What is the purpose of a Sea Waybill?

A sea waybill expedites the transportation process to release shipments' ownership. This document is not needed during delivery if the shipper knows the recipient. The sea waybill is generally preferred by the consignee to pay the cargo in advance. Thus, a level of trust between the consignee and the shipper is maintained.

Establishments that regularly do direct business with one another typically choose the seaway bill. Transactions, like bank letters of credit, are not employed and do not involve any third parties. When delivering cargo, there is no need for original documentation. It works just as well in electronic form and doesn't require printing to accomplish its goals. Additionally, a sea waybill does not require endorsement, nor does it require physical mail.

Here are some crucial details that a sea waybill includes

  • Details of the shipper/sender
  • Details of the importer or receiver
  • Desired port
  • Contact details of the shipper
  • Contact details of the receiver
  • Name of the vessel
  • Delivery location
  • Package description
  • Package quantities
  • Port of discharge

Is the Sea Waybill similar to the Telex release?

The sea waybill is not as similar as the Telex release, though both promote quick release of goods. On the other hand, the telex release is used with the bill of lading. It is an electronic notification from the origin.

Agent to the destination agent, stating that the goods can be released to the consignee after the original bill of lading is turned in. When the original bill of lading cannot be physically produced in time, this process is utilized to expedite the discharge of goods.

How can a Sea Waybill be used in a Letter of Credit transaction?

  • The document must specify the carrier's name and be signed by the master or a designated agent acting on the master's behalf, or the carrier or a specified agent acting on the carrier's behalf.
  • The document should indicate that the cargo has been shipped to the port of loading on a designated vessel.
  • It must specify the cargo shipment from the port of discharge to the designated port as mentioned in the LI.
  • It should include the terms and conditions of carriage (short form or blank-back non-negotiable maritime waybill) or provide a link to another source that does.
  • The bill should provide no indication that the process involves a charter party.

When it comes to exporting perishable goods, both BOL and sea waybills play an important role. Whether it is about domestic or international transportation of cargo, the exporters should know about the differences and have a clear idea about both documents.

Depending on the nature of the shipment and the necessary adherence to international trade laws, both documents provide varying degrees of legal protection and compatibility. Let's examine the key differences between these documents.

The Sea Waybill serves these purposes

  • When the shipment is conducted between the parent company and the subsidiaries.
  • When there is no selling or trading of the cargo during transit.
  • When the cargo payment is made using a Letter of Credit (LOC).

The BOL serves these purposes

  • It serves as a title document for the goods listed in the bill of lading.
  • It is an invoice for goods that have been shipped.
  • It stands for the terms and conditions that have been agreed upon for the items' shipment.

Bill of Lading vs. Sea Waybill: Key Considerations

Transferability and Bargaining

  • Sea waybill: The waybill is non-transferable and requires no negotiation. No change of ownership is mandatory to deliver goods. In this case, the goods are directly sent to the retailer or a reliable distributor and are paid in advance where trading is not needed. 
  • Bill of Lading: When ownership transferability is necessary, this document is perfect. It can be approved by another party because it is negotiable. This functionality is especially useful for exchanges when the goods may be sold multiple times while being transported.

Direct Cargo Release

  • Sea waybill: The sea waybill facilitates quick release of the cargo without any original documentation. When prompt delivery is required and there is a trusting connection between the trading partners, this document works best, terminating the necessity for the checks and balances that a Bill of Lading provides.
  • Bill of Lading: Goods can only be claimed if the consignee is present to submit the original document. This keeps security intact but can delay the release of cargo in case the document is lost or delayed during transit.

Accurate Documentation

  • Sea waybill: The waybill facilitates a simpler shipping process and requires less documentation. When the same company ships the goods or when a pre-existing trust connection is created, it is preferred in situations where efficiency and speed are more important than closely monitoring ownership and financial stability.
  • Bill of Lading: The BOL requires extensive documentation that is best to attain several financial forms and insurance claims. It's required when the shipment's financial and legal elements necessitate thorough paperwork, which banks frequently demand when goods are used as collateral for trade financing.

Legal Implications

  Sea waybill

  • The sea waybill does not need ownership to export goods and, as a result, restricts its usage in legal claims.
  • There is no need for proper documentation to conduct transactions.
  • Simplify the transaction process among the established partners to prevent the legal formalities for a title transfer.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

  • The BOL offers legal protection due to title recognition. 
  • The BOL can be used as evidence in court to support the receipt, shipment, and delivery of the goods.
  • The bill of lading is perfect for conducting transactions requiring paperwork for insurance and customs requirements.

Customs and Regulatory Standards

Sea waybill

  • The sea waybill lessens the complexities of the customs process, enabling a level of confidence between the shipper and receiver.
  • The bill proves to be an ideal option for goods that don't need ownership or are not subjected to strict protocol.
  • Effective for regular shipments in cases where customs processes are well organized and simplified.

Bill of Lading

  • The BOL is recognized globally for the minutely detailed information provided by the customs department.
  • As an authentic title document, the BOL meets international standards.
  • The document is essential to inspect certain goods that are subject to stringent policy.

Both documents facilitate the export of perishable goods from one port to another. The carriers should be careful in choosing the right document that will enhance security for their cargo dispatch without facing any hurdles.