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Type of Transport Document: Air Waybill

Posted in Transport Document - 1 Feb 2021, 10:35 AM

Although exporting and importing documentation can present a significant headache, understanding what Air Waybill is and how it works are pretty easy. Learn all you need to know about this particular document here so that your shipment afterward becomes much more efficient.

What is an Air Waybill?

If there’s a document termed Sea Waybill (SWB), then there’s also an Air Waybill (AWB) to define all shipped goods on a plane. Due to its non-negotiable nature, the document serves as a contract of carriage (or transport contract) between the carrier and shipper. It also means that this document may never be consigned “to order of shipper.”

With detailed information about the goods, an AWB gives temporary control to the air carrier or consolidator on its routing of the exporter’s cargo. Such information largely informs the handlers on the sender, receiver, shipment contents, terms and conditions (T&C), and many more.

It’s also important to know that an AWB is distributed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), considering that the goods transport involves airline and airport services. Also referred to as a dispatch or consignment note, an AWB should always be filled out first before goods are shipped.

Only after the document is signed will it officially become an enforceable contract. Hence, any details required on the document should always be clearly and accurately informed as well. Nowadays, e-AWB has become the standard rather than conventional one-page physical paper AWB. The efficiency of filling out and storing e-AWB are some of the contributing factors of this shift.

Functions of an Air Waybill

An Air Waybill poses three main functions:

1.      Transport Contract/Contract of Carriage

Like all contracts, an AWB provides necessary clauses of the air transportation for the cargo owner. In essence, this document specifies the shipment’s departure and destination address, contact information for the sender (consignor) and the recipient (consignee), terms and conditions, and liabilities of all parties. 

2.      Proof of Receipt of Goods

Once the air carriers well-receive the cargo, the Air Waybill will also serve as a proof of receipt. The AWB will evidence that the carrier has received the cargo, just like how the owner detailed it. Therefore, the more accurate and detailed information the cargo owner gives, the easier and safer it will be for the cargo carriers to transport the goods to the receiver. On the other hand, the cargo carrier will now be the responsible party for any damage in transit.

3.      Non-Negotiable Document of Title

Lastly, an Air Waybill is a non-negotiable document of title, which means that the receiver listed on the cargo cannot be changed and transferred in any way. It’s also the same for any other details of the air freight, as the arrival place. Such regulations exist to ease the documentation speed.


As an integral part of goods transport through airplanes, an Air Waybill indeed poses significant importance to ensuring safe and secure goods delivery to the destination. If you’re considering to deliver your goods through air, make sure to consult this matter to the expert first and always refer to government regulation.

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