Telex Release and Bill of Lading: How Are They Related?

Telex Release and Bill of Lading: How Are They Related?
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Understanding how telex releases relating to bills of lading can help ensure that shipments are delivered on time and without complications.

Even with all the advances in technology and automation, shipping freight is still primarily a manual process relying heavily on paperwork. Telex Release and Bill of Lading are two well-known terms essential to the shipping process. While the Telex may sound high-tech, its origins date back to the early 1900s.

Despite its age, in the right situation, using a telex release when the original bill of lading is unavailable can save time and money and allow goods to continue to flow.

What is a Telex Release?

A Telex Release is an electronic message (typically e-mail) sent from a carrier or shipping line to allow the cargo to be released at one port, even though the original bill of lading may be at a different port, lost, or in transit.

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legally-binding document between a shipper and carrier that outlines the terms, responsibilities, and liabilities for goods shipped in transit. The BOL contains details such as freight classification, cargo size/weight, origin, port of destination and final destination details, payment information, number of packages shipped, special freight instructions, mode of transportation used, and more. Essentially, it guarantees the safe and secure delivery of goods from one party to another.

Without the original bill of lading, a telex release enables the release of goods at the destination. While the telex release is an alternative way for carriers to release goods, it does not replace the original BOL.

How are telex release and bill of lading related?

By understanding how these two documents are related, shippers can ensure their freight arrives safely and on time while avoiding costly delays due to incorrect paperwork or missing records. A telex release may be necessary when:

  • The shipper needs to surrender the original bill of lading documents at the origin
  • When there’s no time for physical documents to be sent from one port to another
  • When it’s more convenient for both parties involved in the transaction
  • When the cargo arrives before the original BOL paperwork

In some cases, carriers may require additional documentation, such as certificates or permits, before issuing a telex release. They need assurance that all necessary paperwork has been completed correctly before releasing goods via this method.

According to a recent McKinsey report, bills of lading account for a significant portion of the total trade documentation costs. Estimates range from 10 to 30 percent, depending on the industry and the level of complexity in supply-chain operations.

The cost associated with bills of lading is not just related to their production and distribution but also includes administrative tasks such as verifying requirements are met, ensuring compliance with regulations, and providing guidance and support when needed.

In addition, bills of lading must be transmitted among multiple parties throughout the supply chain, including carriers, ports, customs authorities, and banks. For example, a typical bill of lading might involve numerous documents that travel between multiple parties at different points along the supply chain journey.

Main takeaways

When using a telex release, it’s crucial for both parties involved in the transaction to make sure they understand all terms and conditions before agreeing on them. This includes ensuring all information in the telex release matches the original bill of lading.

It’s also essential for both parties to agree on who will pay any additional fees associated with releasing goods via a telex release instead of an OBL.

Overall, understanding how telex releases relating to bills of lading can help ensure that shipments are delivered on time and without complications due to missing paperwork or incorrect information provided by either party involved in the transaction.


We at Ship4wd are dedicated to helping small and mid-sized businesses get the most out of their shipping processes. With our platform, businesses can quickly view and compare shipping quotes, find the best options that suit their needs and make a booking in just a few clicks. Throughout the booking process, small and midsize businesses will have our experts’ support. Regardless of their experience in logistics, business owners can count on us to get their shipments to where they need them. 

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