Difference between sea way bill
Bill of Lading and Sea waybills are both important documents in the shipment process and have their own usage depending on the freight and nature of the shipment. There are many similarities and quite a few differences. Therefore, people tend to get puzzled and get mixed up between the two of them.
In Bill of Lading, there are three important characteristics to remember:
  • Evidence of contract of goods
  • Receipts of goods
  • Transfer of Ownership

Evidence of contract of goods

When the shipper transports and hands over the goods to the carrier. Carriers verify the goods and make a bill of lading (waybill) to the shipper. On the other hand, to whom the goods are being transported to (i.e. the buyer or the importer). The importer also has to show the original documents of the bill of lading in order to claim the shipment goods.

Receipts of goods

After verifying and receiving the shipment goods, the carrier issues a bill of lading to the shipper against the goods. This receipt is the evidence that the carrier has acquired the goods from the shipper in the same condition or order as handed over by the shipper.

Transfer of goods

Bill of Lading has the document to the title of goods under the name of the consignee or the person who may have a bill of lading in order to retrieve the goods from the destination port agent.


Sea waybills are becoming the most common mode of the bill of lading, as it provides a fast way to transport the ownership of the goods to the buyer. It is also called “Straight Bill of Lading”. Sea waybills are used when the sellers have the confidence in buyers to make the payment or they work for the same or interrelated company. Sea waybill allows the seller and carrier to release the bill on an immediate basis. It removes the painstaking delay for the buyer for the original bill of lading to arrive in order to submit it to the carrier to retrieve the shipment goods. By using sea waybill, the buyer does not have to worry about the submitting the original. The seller already allows the buyer to submit only evidence of the contract of goods and receipt of the goods to retrieve the goods. No document of title is required in sea waybills. Hence, sea waybill makes easier for the release of the shipment cargo. When the cargo is released from the carrier to the buyer, it is then also called “Express release Bill of Lading”.

The Pros and Cons of Bill of Lading and Sea WayBills

Pros of BoL

  • The cargo will only be released to the respective consignee.
  • The seller or the shipper has the advantage to withhold the goods until the payment is made.

Cons of BoL

  • There is always a possibility of delaying of original documents during short sea journey. Due to the delay, the buyer is not able to pick up the goods from the destination port.
  • Could be a huge problem if the original documents get missing or got lost during the transmittance.
  • Due to the delay of the original documents the cargo ship could suffer a surcharge from being unable to discharge the assigned cargo in a given time period.

Now we look into the pros and cons of Sea Waybill! 

Pros of Sea Waybill

  • No worries if the original bill is lost as the copy of the document is meant to be traversed via email.
  • It’s a quick way to retrieve the cargo.
  • No need to wait for the arrival of original documents, as there are no documents required to release of the cargo in the first place.

Cons of Sea Waybill

  • Cargo can be retrieved just via email, which threatens the security of the cargo
  • There is no document of title to the owner, finding out the real owner could be a hassle.

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