• Joseph O'Donnell

Original vs. Express Bill of Ladings

Updated: Jan 24

In ocean freight there are two different ways that a bill of lading (B/L) can be issued. It can be issued as an express B/L or an original B/L.


Original Bill of Lading


When a transaction involves original B/L it means that the consignee is not able to collect ownership of the goods unless they physically present the original B/Ls to the destination port or agent.


There are three originals that must be presented in order for the consignee to take possession of the cargo. Trying to collect the goods without physically presenting the three original B/Ls is not an option, so it is important to be thorough and make sure you have what you need.


An original B/L is a negotiable document, meaning it can be endorsed and whoever is in possession of the endorsed B/L can collect the goods.


Express Bill of Lading


These are generally used when there is a lot of trust between a shipper and a buyer, or when the goods are already paid for prior to being shipped.


An express B/L, straight bill of lading or sea waybill does not act as a title of ownership so it does not need to be presented to collect the freight. The consignee is able to collect the goods faster and no courier fees are involved.


The carrier is instructed by the shipper to release the goods to a named consignee at the destination port. In this situation the consignee just needs to provide proof of identity to collect the cargo.


An express B/L is classified as a non-negotiable document as it cannot be endorsed to transfer ownership.


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