Sea waybill

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Sea waybill
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Sea waybill is one of two basic documents that allow to carriage off goods by water. Sea waybill is an international permission. The second one is called bill of lading. They are both documents attesting to the carriage's contracts, although they are related to the underlying sale's contract, and also, where applicable, to the documentary credit transaction of the banks wchich are concerned (P. G. Pamel, R. C. Wilkins. 2011, p.1, 2).


A sea waybill can be used in preference to a bill of lading if goods are likely to have been shipped and reach their destination before a bill of lading ( for example on short sea routes in Europe). It is also useful if there is no need (from the shipper point of view) to have a bill of lading in order to receive payment or to transfer the title to the goods during the time the commodity is in the possession of the freighter (A. Rogers, J. Chuah, M. Dockray 2016, p. 13). According to A. Rogers, J. Chuah and M. Dockray "A sea waybill is also a receipt for goods issued by a carrier and may contain evidence of the terms of a contract of affreightment in much the same way as a bill of lading."(2016, p. 12)

Sea waybill vs. bill of lading

Both documents are related to shipping goods but they have some significant differences ( I. Mavrokefalos 2014/2015, p. 6):

  • Sea waybill is negotiable in contrary to bill of lading. It means that the title of bill of lading can be transferred to anyone the holder wishes. This could not happen with sea waybill, which must be sent purely to the person who has been identified on the paper as the consignee.
  • Bill of lading may be used as a guarantee to get a loan or credit line, as soon as the title can be handed to bank, while banks do not accapted sea waybills as a guarantee.
  • Another difference- bill of lading transfers the title of the shipping, whereassea waybill is just an evidence of the contract between the buyer the seller to transfer the cargo to an certain port. It also usually contains name of buyer, a list of the cargo's content and condition.
  • Sea Waybill must have the cargo's consignee's name. It facilitates the process of unloading while the vessel reach its destination. Usually bill of lading reaches the captain with delay, so sea waybill permits correct shipping's discharge and it also reduces possibilities of damage.
  • While bill of lading does not reach the carrier's hands sea waybill is used instead, as evidence that the appropriate cargo has been loaded and has been contracted to deliver to an appropriate buyer. In this case captain will accept the sea waybill instead of the bill of lading and the goods can be transferred to the buyer whose name has been written on the contract.


Author: Dominika Kuraś