Want to Send Goods by Air? Get to Know First What an Airway Bill is!

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Airway Bill

When planning the delivery or receipt of goods, it is important to understand the concept of an airway bill. The waybill is an important document for the customs process because it provides complete details about the shipment. In situations of shipping by air, there is the term air waybill which refers to this type of similar document. Get to know more in this TransTRACK article!

Airway Bill, What’s that Meant?

An Air Freight Bill (Air Waybill or AWB) is a record of delivery by air. The definition is a document that functions as a transportation agreement between the sender and the airline in the context of cross-border trade. AWB also acts as proof of receipt of goods by the airline, while establishing various applicable terms and conditions.

However, despite having a similar role to a bill of lading for shipping by sea, the AWB is issued in a non-transferable format. This indicates that the level of protection provided by AWB is more limited when compared to a bill of lading.

Airway bill document function

There are various roles that the Air Waybill has, and each purpose has significant meaning. Some of them can be identified as explained below:

Serves as evidence

The Air Waybill functions as proof of receipt of goods by the airline. This proof guarantees the safety and security of the shipment and serves as a non-tradable document, aimed at avoiding interference or inconvenience. With an Air Waybill number, up-to-date information regarding shipping can be accessed easily.

Sources of Contact and Information Between Parties

One of the functions of an airway bill is as a document that provides data regarding crucial elements such as address, date and contact details. This aims to perfect and speed up the process. Then, the recipient and sender can track and monitor the shipment.

Accurate Description of the Goods

In the Air Waybill, there is a more detailed description of the weight, volume, dimensions and similar information about the goods being sent. These details also support more efficient allocation and space management. AWB also contains information regarding the type of goods being sent.

Simple Delivery Tracking

Technological advances have progressed, and the Cargo sector has experienced a shift towards e-AWB to ensure safety and on-time delivery. Additionally, through e-Air Waybill, related parties can easily track and monitor the delivery process.

In summary, the Air Waybill acts as proof and acceptance of the delivery of goods. It is also a source of contact information between the parties, supported by accurate item descriptions. All this makes the cargo tracking process easier.

Types of Airway Bill

There are two types of documents in air transportation, depending on the party arranging the shipping process.


MAWB (Master Air Waybill) is a document that confirms the AWB provisions for consolidated (bulk) shipments. MAWB is issued using a form specifically prepared and signed by the airline. The sender, who collects packages from many different customers, plays the role of sender in this context.


HAWB (House Air Waybill) is a sending agent’s air waybill used in consolidated package deliveries. The HAWB is issued in universal air waybill format and includes a comprehensive description of the shipment. This document is issued by the transportation service provider for the exporter.

Difference Between Different Airway Bill Vs Bill Of Lading?

AWB is different from other bills of lading, as it is a non-tradable document. This means that AWB does not determine which airline will transport the shipment or when the shipment will arrive at its destination. On the other hand, a bill of lading is a legal agreement between the shipper and the carrier that details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being transported.

The bill of lading also functions as proof of receipt of goods when the goods are delivered at the specified destination. This document accompanies the goods and is signed by the authorized representatives of the sender, carrier, and recipient. However, unlike a bill of lading, an air waybill (AWB) cannot be traded. Due to its non-tradable nature, the AWB only acts as a contract for transport services and does not cover the commercial value of the goods.

When is Airway Bill Document Required?

As a rule of thumb, in any situation involving shipping, you will need an air waybill document.

Currently, you are required to print and attach a physical air waybill to the package before handing it over to the courier at the delivery counter.

In particular, for cross-border shipments, air waybill documents are also an important prerequisite. This is required either by the customer or by the relevant authorities as part of the import and export procedures.

The contents of this consignment document may vary depending on the delivery route and your choice of courier. However, the general rule is to have at least 3 copies of the air waybill. This copy is useful as proof for yourself, for the courier, and also as a note for your recipient.


When shipping internationally the air waybill acts as an agreement between you and the carrier, detailing the contents of the shipment, origin, destination and other relevant information. Since 2019, the default form has been adopted in electronic form. This is a non-transferable form that details the delivery details and is signed by both parties. This agreement has a legal basis that can be enforced.

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