Sea Waybill

A Sea Waybill is an essential document used in international ocean freight shipments. It functions as a contract between the shipper, carrier, and receiver and as a receipt of the goods shipped and specifies details such as cargo description, weight, destination port, etc.

The Sea Waybill does not require the physical transfer of possession like a Bill of Lading but still serves to document the shipment’s origin and destination points.


What Information is Included in a Sea Waybill?

The information included in a Sea Waybill may vary depending on the specific requirements of the shipping company and the nature of the shipment, but it typically contains the following key information:

  • Carrier Information: This section provides details about the shipping company or carrier responsible for transporting the goods. It includes the carrier’s name, address, and contact information.
  • Shipper Information: The shipper is the party who is sending the goods, and this section includes their name, address, and contact details. It helps identify the origin of the shipment.
  • Consignee Information: The consignee is the party to whom the goods are being shipped, and this section includes their name, address, and contact information. It helps identify the intended recipient of the cargo.
  • Description of Goods: This section provides a detailed description of the goods being shipped. It includes information such as the type of cargo (e.g., electronics, clothing), the number of items, their weight, dimensions, packaging details (e.g., boxes, pallets), and any special handling instructions (e.g., fragile, perishable).
  • Port of Loading: The name of the port or place where the goods were loaded onto the vessel for transportation. It specifies the starting point of the shipment’s journey.
  • Port of Discharge: The name of the port or place where the goods are expected to be unloaded from the vessel upon arrival at the destination. It indicates where the cargo will be received.
  • Vessel Information: This section includes the name of the vessel that will carry the goods and its voyage details. It typically mentions the voyage number or the vessel’s registration number.
  • Freight Details: Information related to the freight charges, including whether the freight is prepaid (paid by the shipper) or collect (to be paid by the consignee upon arrival). It clarifies the financial arrangements for the shipment.


Who is Responsible for Issuing the Seaway Bill?

The Seaway Bill is issued by the ocean carrier to the customer, who is often referred to as the consignor or shipper. It serves as a non-negotiable contract between the ocean carrier and the customer for the transportation of cargo from one point to another. Unlike a negotiable bill of lading, the Seaway Bill does not permit the transfer of ownership of goods to a third party.


Frequently Asked Questions on Sea Waybills


Seaway Bill Vs. Bill of Lading: What Are Their Differences and When Should You Use Them?

Typically, you would use a Sea Waybill instead of a Bill of Lading in situations where the primary focus is the transportation of goods, and there is a high level of trust and a direct business relationship between the shipper and the consignee. 

Unlike a Bill of Lading, which serves as both a contract of carriage and a title ownership document, a Sea Waybill primarily functions as evidence of the contract of carriage and a cargo receipt. Therefore, when you are shipping goods between parties who have a well-established and trustworthy relationship, and the ownership transfer of the cargo is not a priority during transit, a Sea Waybill is a suitable choice. It is especially practical when no third-party banks are involved in the transaction, and the cargo is being sent directly to the specified receiver without the need for an original Bill of Lading, as the Sea Waybill is non-negotiable and does not require banking intermediaries.


Can You Claim Your Cargo Without a Copy of the Sea Waybill?

No, you do not need to have a physical copy of the Sea Waybill to claim your cargo. The consignee can claim the cargo by presenting proper identification and referencing the Sea Waybill details, such as the Sea Waybill number and the consignee’s name. This is because a Sea Waybill is a non-negotiable document, meaning it does not represent ownership of the goods. Therefore, physical transfer of the Sea Waybill is not required for the consignee to prove their authorization to receive the goods.


Can I Use Both the Bill of Lading and Sea Waybill Simultaneously?

In international shipping, the use of both a Bill of Lading and a Sea Waybill for the same cargo shipment is generally impractical and uncommon, as they serve similar yet distinct purposes. 

While theoretically possible in very specific and unusual scenarios, such as multi-stage transactions or unique regulatory requirements, employing both documents for the same shipment isn’t standard practice. If this is done, it could lead to unnecessary complexity and potential confusion in the shipping and customs process, given that each document is designed to fulfill specific roles within the logistics chain.


Is a Sea Waybill a Negotiable Document? 

A Sea Waybill is considered a non-negotiable document in international maritime shipping because it lacks the key characteristics that make other shipping documents, such as bills of lading, negotiable. 

Unlike negotiable documents, a Sea Waybill does not provide a mechanism for the transfer of ownership of the goods from one party to another through endorsement and delivery. Instead, it primarily serves as evidence of the contract of carriage and a receipt for the goods. This non-negotiability simplifies the shipping process in situations where cargo is shipped between parties with a high level of trust, as it eliminates the need for complex ownership transfers and the involvement of banking intermediaries. The cargo can typically be claimed by the consignee or their authorized agent by presenting proper identification and referencing the Sea Waybill without the requirement for the physical transfer of the document.


Is a Sea Waybill Required for all Maritime Shipments? 

A Sea Waybill is not mandatory for all maritime shipments, and it can be used in specific situations as an alternative to a Bill of Lading. In most cases, a Sea Waybill is used when there is a high degree of trust among the parties, without any transfer of ownership involved. It is particularly suitable for shipments that involve related companies or when there is no need for a negotiable document. It is important to note, however, that the type of document, whether it’s a Sea Waybill or a Bill of Lading, can vary based on the nature of the cargo, contractual agreements, the involvement of letters of credit, and compliance with local regulations. Therefore, the decision to use a Sea Waybill or another type of shipping document is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the unique requirements of each maritime shipment.


Sea Waybill vs. Telex Release: What’s the Difference?

The Sea Waybill and Telex Release are two different tools in international shipping, each with its own purpose. 

A Sea Waybill is a non-negotiable document that serves as a receipt and evidence of the contract of carriage. It doesn’t represent ownership of the cargo, thereby simplifying the process of cargo release. The consignee simply uses identification and the Sea Waybill reference to claim the cargo at the destination port. 

In contrast, a Telex Release is associated with both negotiable (Order) and non-negotiable (Straight) Bills of Lading. It is an electronic communication used to streamline the release of cargo without requiring a physical Bill of Lading at the destination. This is especially beneficial when time constraints prevent the delivery of the physical Bill of Lading document. Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand that while the Telex Release streamlines the cargo release procedure, the ownership and transfer conditions of the goods are ultimately determined by the type of Bill of Lading issued. In essence, the Telex Release functions as an auxiliary tool for the Bill of Lading, facilitating cargo release while adhering to the ownership and transfer provisions stipulated in the respective Bill of Lading.



Ready to get started?

By land, air, or sea, Ship4wd makes it easy for businesses to take control of their international shipping