Difference between House bill of lading and Master bill of lading

Difference between House Bill of Lading and Master Bill of Lading

A Bill of Lading maybe issued as a House Bill of Lading or a Master Bill of Lading..

  1. A House Bill of Lading (HBL) is issued by an NVOCC operator, or a Freight Forwarder to their customers..
  2. A Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is issued by the Shipping Line (Carrier) to the NVOCC Operator, or Freight Forwarder..

Image for MBL and HBL

When issued for a FCL shipment (non-groupage), a HBL should always be issued on a back to back basis with a MBL which means that the HBL should be an EXACT replica of the MBL issued by the actual Shipping line in respect of all details except the shipper, consignee and notify party details which will be different in the HBL and MBL..

In the HBL

  • the Shipper will usually be the actual shipper/exporter of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)
  • the Consignee will usually be the actual receiver/importer of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)
  • the Notify could be the same as Consignee (or any other party as dictated by the L/C)

In the MBL

  • the Shipper will usually be the NVOCC operator, or their agent or the Freight Forwarder..
  • the Consignee will usually be the destination agent or counterpart or office of the NVOCC operator, or the Freight Forwarder
  • the Notify could be the same as Consignee or any other party..

In the interest of the NVOCC operator and their insurance coverage/exposure, it is recommended that all the details on the HBL and MBL like vessel/voyage information, cargo description, number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements should remain the same.. The only difference should be in the shipper, consignee and notify details..

Unless disallowed by the L/C, the HBL is also used/treated as a negotiable document and can be considered to fulfill the roles of a bill of lading.. But due care must be taken when using HBL as a negotiable document as I have come across a counter-productive and dangerous practice of consigning the HBL and MBL exactly the same which means that there are two sets of bills of lading issued by two different entities for the same cargo..!!!!!!

Such issues have happened due to the ignorance of the NVOCC or Freight Forwarder..

Have you come across such instances..?? If so, maybe you can share them as Case Studies for this blog..

What did you think of the above article..?? Comment below..

144 comments on “Difference between House bill of lading and Master bill of lading

  1. Krishna says:

    Hi, I’m working ff, we have an import consignment to India and MBL was filed by liner and by that we have not informed to carrier that hbl to be at your side. Now the shipment is under HSS. how do I resolve if hbl is not manifested by liner. What are the steps to be taken in this? Pls suggest your valuable anwser

  2. Nick says:

    I am an NVO in the USA and have been asked by an agent in Bangladesh for my companies FMC bonded HB/L to be mailed to their office. I am unsure exactly why this is needed as they are an NVO as well. Another agent in china has also asked for our HB/L to be mailed to their office. This is not particular to any shipment they just want it for future use. Can you explain why that would be needed?

    1. Hello Nick, if the agent in Bangladesh is also an NVO registered with FMC then there is no need for them to use your bill of lading, they can also use their own bill.. The main reason some agents ask for your HBL maybe if the biz has been generated by you then they feel its better to use your HBL using your insurance and liability covers than their own.. Unless there is a real trust in counterpart agents and there is a lot of regular business dealings with them, one should be careful in sending blank HBLs as they could be mis used..

  3. raffi says:

    Hi iam raffi i have small doubt

    Ref port : Dammam port, Saudi Arabia

    We are NVOCC operator
    I have done an shipment from chennai, india to Dammam, saudi

    I have issued HBL to shipper as actual (shipper,consignee,notify)
    and in MBL i have updated shipper as us and consignee and notify as our counter part agent.
    Kindly confirm is this correct procedure for dammam port

    Or i have update MBL shipper as us and consignee as actual consignee and notify us our counter part agent

    1. Hello Raffi, I am not sure specifically on Dammam or Saudi ports.. Best option would be for you to check with Saudi Customs..

    2. Raffi says:

      Hi thank you 🙂

  4. FIKRU says:

    can we have two BL with the same BL number for two different shippments ?

    1. While it is not normal in liner business, in tramp business it can happen but as long as it is on different ships..

    2. issam says:

      yes for two different names

  5. Dear Harriesh,
    I work in a FF company , pls advise if it is OK to issue Original HB/L consigned to actual cgnee and Master SEA WAY BILL consigned again to actual cgnee ? Fyi, our client does not want our local destination agent to interfere….
    Furthermore, in the past we used to issue ORIGINAL MB/L consigned to direct cgnee ,send Originals to shipper and then shipper send docs to cgnee bank, but since transit time of shpt is only 4-5 days, many times , due to human factor delays , shpt was arriving before the B/L and rest documentation …and demmurages occured..

    So I was wondering, if cgnee could use our Original HB/L for his bank and the actual Master SWB to receive the shpt…

    1. That would be two bills of lading consigned to the customer for the same shipment and that’s not allowed..

    2. Many thanks for your prompt replay which is well noted.

  6. jasonwongym says:

    hi there. what is the exposure to the freight forwarder if a they issue a HBL?

    besides cargo damage, what else? do you need to purchase an insurance as a freight forwarder?

  7. Fabio says:

    Dear Hariesh
    I am a customer for personal effects (family relocation) and naturally am using a NVOCC/FF to organise a sea freight from the UK to Brazil. I’ve previously done LCL and cleared the customs myself but that was a good while back and this time is a FCL, which has different procedures.
    I’ve been in touch with my NVOCC/FF but must confess am still a bit confused as to how the paperwork should be properly organised as again I am planning to clear customs myself and only use an clearing agent as a last resource.
    My question is with regards to the HBL and MBL details. I know most people here are talking about generic exports, including commercial stuff and are NVOCC/FFs, but from I understood for personal effects I would be both the shipper and the consignee/notify for the purpose of HBL? As for MBL, what would be the accurate details (FYI, the shipping line would be either Hapag or MSC) ?

    This is important piece of information for us because we’ve got mixed details from others, whereby some clearing agents in Brazil keep telling us that the BLs must be consigned to the owner of the goods, otherwise it will be difficult to clear customs and in Brazil they tend to be very red tape. Does this vary according to the shipping line and in the event that the MBL must only be consigned to an agent, does this mean that only them could deal with the customs clearance even though this is personal effects?

    Sorry, I am a beginner and still trying to do my homework before embarking to unchartered territory.

    Any useful advice will be most welcome.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Fabio, in Brazil they require original bills of lading and they don’t accept seaway bills.. As far as I know you cannot do clearance on your own without a customs clearance agent.. But in terms of bill of lading, you don’t really require MBL and HBL.. You can make the booking directly with the shipping line and take only MBL if you are confident that you can handle all the activities of shipping yourself.. Even if you use a forwarder you can still insist on an MBL with you and your address in UK as the shipper and you and your address in Brazil as the consignee..

  8. Ryan says:

    What happens if you’re an NVOCC with HBL but your customer (shipper) does not want you to consign to your agent office overseas, but directly to their consignee? In this case, the HBL and MBL would be consigned the same, and as you stated above that is an issue. But you also can’t just use MBL because as the NVOCC you are listed as the shipper on the MBL and the consignee is expecting the shipper to be your customer…

    1. Hi Ryan, you cannot have that situation.. The shipper and consignee must come to terms on the documentation requirements and release the suitable bill of lading.. You cannot have two original bills consigned to the same consignee..

  9. Karen Uray says:

    Can you tell me why there would be two different B/Ls? We are shipping personal belongings and we received the B/L from the shipper with the correct destination, Debrecen Hungary. But the freight forwarder sent a B/L with the destination listed as Bremerhaven and the phrase “GOODS IN TRANSIT TO DEBRECEN, HUNGARY ON THE CONSIGNEE’S RISK AND EXPENSE”. Why is there two B/L? Which is the correct one?

    1. Hi Karen, that would be because the shipping line is only contracted upto Bremerhaven which is the gateway port of discharge.. From Bremerhaven to Debrecen will be done by the freight forwarder.. So the MBL will be upto Bremerhaven and the forwarders HBL will be upto Debrecen..

  10. DTanner says:

    Hello, we are a newly licensed NVOCC in the USA. I am very familiar with the import process but not so much on the export process. If I issue a HBL on a shipment, am I required to have it filed somewhere? I know on the import side it must be filed in the AMS. Is AMS filed on the export side? Also, who must we provide the Bill of Lading to? I trust this would depend upon the shipping terms? If under FOB, with MBL and HBL we should provide the HBL to the destination Agent who hired us to arrange the exportation? Appreciate any guidance. Thank you,

  11. Rajesh says:

    Hi.. I am new to this industry and to all compliances, for the first time I imported 10 MT of polymer from China, the destination port is Mumbai and discharge port was Tianjin port , it was suppose to be LCL, as per the invoice i issued LC from my bank of 95% of Invoice and 5% advance, the shipper informed me that the consignment had shipped on 26th Oct and the documents of shipping including BL, certification of origin and rest has been couriered by Bank, after few days my bank receives documents and hence the payment was transfered to the shipper acount.

    The problem starts when I give these set of documents to custom agent to file bill of entries, I understand for the first time that I have received HBL and not MBL, my agent said to track the cargo we need to know who is freight forwarder and their counterparts in India, now the problem is my shipper/supplier from that day is not answering my call and no reply to emails, the last message from them was that the BL is a house BL so I need to sort it from my end.

    On HBL the shipping line name is OOCL but the OOCL staff says that since its not a master BL they can’t track it they need the freight forwarder Name.

    I would really appreciate if someone can give me suggestion about how to track my cargo and get it cleared.

    1. Passerby says:

      you have container number? usually be it both HBL or MBL, it should be there.. you can use it to track your cargo via the OOCL website and track via container number.

  12. Rehnay says:

    Hi , we have shipment bound to Iraq under LC with condition that I will get paid % Base on endosement of HBL or Multimodal BL or CMR confirming that goods have entered Iraq border. The endorsment will Base on client’s representative at border receiving the DO confirming that the goods have entered country. The ? In this context is it permitered (as per international trade compliance rules) for us to issue MBL under the dircet consignee in order to get the DO release and obtained endorsement and 2nd is it possible to process customs clerance base on 2nd set of shipping documents to avoid delay in getting the shipment cleared avoiding extra cost. Shipment would under duty exemption. Thanks

  13. Thank you very much for this article

  14. Ms Myint myint khine says:

    I am really thank you for your explain.

  15. Cargomasters says:

    This really needs a diagram, i’m struggling to keep up!

  16. Joyce says:


    If I’m the shipper and I sell my products via an agent but I ship the goods directly to their customer. How does the BL works? Do I ask FF to provide MBL (agent to customer) and HBL (shipper to customer)? I’m not quite sure on the MBL and HBL functions.

    1. Passerby says:

      If you ship FCL (full container load), you get your fwder to give you MBL.
      LCL (Lesser than Container Load), you can only get HBL issued by your forwarder.

      The process is>
      CARRIER (aka the shipping line) will only recognise their own document, which is the Master Bill of Lading (MBL). So Carrier “sell”(outsourced the troublesome workload) their vessel’s space to NVOCC or Freight forwarders for them.
      So Freight Forwarders who sell the space will issue House BL (under their name) to their customers.
      Generally, if you are shipping 1 FCL load of cargo, make sure your forwarder give you MBL. because there are some idiot forwarders who will combine their various customer’s orders from same port of loading to the same port discharge under 1 MBL.. so if Carrier decides to offload containers due to overweight, or customs want to inspect particular MBL… the WHOLE set of HBL under this MBL will be affected.
      Why are forwarders doing this? Because Carrier charges them only 1 MBL charge. But to split it into muliple HBL, they will charge the BL charges to their customers. At the same time, this process do not reduce risk but increases the risk of delay due to potential Carrier unloading of containers and customs inspections… and subsequent costs incurred due to these activities… Also, at port of discharge, the EXCHANGE DO charges is also re-charge again.. because there’s only 1 MBL charge here.. but forwarders can charge multiple EXCHANGE DO for their HBL…. so that’s very very good money to forwarders.

      For LCL, too bad…

  17. J. Paulsen says:

    in regards to SOLAS it was said that “the shipper” is responsible to obtain and transmitt the VGM to the carrier. However, who is the shipper? The one mentioned on the MBL (i.e. the freight forwarder) or the shipper on the HBL (actuall shipper, exporter)?

    1. Shipper on the bill of lading issued by the Carrier because that is the only info the Carrier has.. Carrier doesn’t know or care who the cargo belongs to or who is the actual shipper.. The person shown on their bill of lading as the shipper will be responsible for the VGM..

    2. Passerby says:

      Generally, shipper is the one who needs the cargo to be delivered. Usually, shipper is the owner of the cargo. But can also be an outsourced partner.

      SOLAS require responsibility from the Cargo OWNER or the cargo OWNER’s appointed Partner/Provider so if there’s any issues, it will be placed on them instead of anyone else.

  18. Ute Harders says:

    Under a letter of credit requiring a full set bill of lading …..issued by XXX we received 2 full sets of bills of lading as described above:
    one set House Bill of Lading issued by XXX (a freight forwarding Company) and a 2nd set of Master bill of lading (for the same cargo) issued by the Shipping Company.

  19. KALYAN BERA says:

    Kindly let us know what are the documents needed for Amendment of IGM where the consignee and B/L No. to be changed? What is the actual procedure?

  20. John says:

    Hi Hariesh,

    Thank you for maintaining an open forum for Logistics related enquiries. My question is , for a start up Freight forwarding company , all the shipments dispatched the actual shipper will be the client of the FF company. I would like to know what Is the actual registration required to make the shipper same as the FF company instead of the our client company on the MBL. We are planning to pitch into LCL business, for this do we need to do NVOCC registration, OFAC and Marine. Could you pls advise. I am sorry if I am a bit confusing , but I don’t know how o put forward my question in a better way.

  21. Lillian says:

    Hi so how is the MBL and the HBL handled at the port of discharge. Kind run me through the procedure of attaining the delivery order from the shippingline.

  22. jason says:

    Can the HDL be used to get duty exemptions or only with the MBL.

    1. Jason, that depends if the HBL is accepted by customs..

    2. Jayson says:

      Hi Hariesh, but for LCL option, only HBL is issued. how in this case if customs only asks for MBL for duty exemption

    3. In the case of LCL, the groupage operator files their manifest with customs so the HBL will be considered..

  23. ffitrianto says:

    Can I arrange import shipment by FCL if use forwarder agent in shipper and use my own custom (not agent )in consignee

  24. ARSALAN WAHID says:

    this article is really helpful to understand the difference between the two i.e. MBL & HBL. but, what if the consignment is unloaded on the Port of Discharge, and the similar container is required to move onward. Then who would be responsible if the container is lost, freight forwarder or shipping.

    1. Hello Arsalan, the responsibility of pre and on-carriage will depend on how the bill of lading has been issued.. Depending on whether the bill of lading issued is a Port to Port Bill of Lading or a Combined Transport Bill of Lading the responsibility will vary..

  25. Mohsin says:

    hi..i have a serious problem, i received the 3 HBL originals and 3 HBL copies directly from a supplier (customer) not from FF, un fortunately we lost 3 original HBL but we got MBL from our supplier (customer) and we cleared that shipment, after some time FF asked from us to give those 3 original HBl which we lost.. FF is asking us for bank guarantee and as this shipment was not LC how we would provide them bank guarantee we are too much confused because FF is mailing us again and again and we want to solve this issue ASAP.

    1. Hello Mohsin, the FF is concerned because in this transaction they have been cut off because the shipping line released cargo directly to you based on the MBL which should have actually gone to the FF.. Since cargo has already been released, FF cannot ask for bank guarantee.. Maybe either the shipper or consignee owes the FF freight or other charges and hence they are trying to recover that money..

  26. Josee dupont says:

    Good day
    Do you have a website for fill a hbl ?

    1. Hello Josee, that would depend on the company you are dealing with.. Some of the best NVOCCs in the world have their own software which they may allow their customers to use, but otherwise it is all done manually..

  27. Hi

    By any chance can you explain to me what is a Parent Bill and how is it different to the HBL and MBL

    1. Hello Gigi.. There is no bill as Parent Bill.. Can you advise where and in which contact you heard it or saw it so I can advise..

  28. Varun Iyer says:

    I have a query as to whether we can call for house bills of lading or house airway bills under an LC. Do they fulfill the same role of a bill of lading or airway bill?

    1. Hello Varun, as mentioned in the last para of this article “Unless disallowed by the L/C, the HBL is also used/treated as a negotiable document and can be considered to fulfill the roles of a bill of lading..”

  29. Ruth Urias says:

    I have lost my original bill of lading and I have requested to my supplier to ask to the carrier to release the ne one at destination, but my supplier says that I have to pay $1,000.00 to exonerate if reponsabilities to the carrier. IS IT CORRECT. Am I obbligated to pay this $1000.00?

    1. Hello Ruth, USD.1000/- seems very cheap.. Usually its much more in the form of a bank guarantee.. Pls read this article which will clarify.. http://shippingandfreightresource.com/what-to-do-when-the-original-bill-of-lading-is-lost/

  30. zmj@yahoo.com says:

    Hi I have questions about Master Bill of Lading. After clearing customs, which parties will have the three Original copies of M B/L? Is it possible for the actual shipper to collect these three copies of M B/L if the actual shipper needs to fix gross weight on the Master B/L and House B/L? Thank you for your answers!

    1. Hi ZMJ, once one of the Original bills of lading is surrendered, all other originals issued become null and void so you cannot do anything with it.. Please read http://shippingandfreightresource.com/duly-discharged-bill-of-lading/ and http://shippingandfreightresource.com/what-happens-to-the-original-bill-of-lading-after-a-shipment-has-been-completed/..

  31. Tim says:

    Thanks so much for this, your website has really helped me in my transition into the FF business.

    1. You are welcome Tim..

  32. Louchie says:

    Hi… I have one import cargo from USA to UAE. Now I have given the instruction for House Bill of Lading with shipper as actual shipper, same with the consignee and notify party is the one who will do the export clearance. Now, counterpart agent in USA is asking for MBL instruction. I advice to put shipper (actual), consignee (shipping line agent) and notify party same on the HBL. But I am confused, who will provide the shipping line agent details? Me or the agent in USA because obviously I dont have any idea regarding the shipping line agent..

    Second is, can I consign the MBL to the third party who will collect the DO and do the export formalities? What would be the difference then? Which one will be the easy way to collect the DO from shipping line? DO charges upon collection may differ based on the consignee details on MBL??

    Please do enlighten me.. Awaiting for your kind reply! 🙂

    1. Hello Louchie, general rule for HBL/MBL shipper/consignee/notify details is

      On MBL

      Shipper = Your agent in USA
      Consignee = Your details in UAE
      Notify = Your details in UAE
      Release Agent at destination = Actual shipping lines agent (example : MSC’s agent in UAE)

      On HBL

      Shipper = Actual shipper of the cargo
      Consignee = Actual importer of the cargo
      Notify = Actual importer or their clearing agent
      Release Agent at destination = Your company, so you can collect your charges and send release to the MBL agent for final release..

      Trust this assists..

  33. Sunil Jasapara says:

    I have serious questions about the legal relationship between the Carrier (Liner), MBL holder (Master Bill of Lading ) , HBL Holder (House Bill of Lading holder issued by MBL holder), and ultimate consignee as seen on HBL. I am the consignee of HBL and face the practical problem in India, where Forwarder in United States or China collude with the Destination Agent in India to extract exorbitant charges towards DO oir Delivery Order charges.

    I arranged for a shipment from China and issued a MBL to their Shipping Agent mentioning destination agent as consignee. In HBL issued by the forwarder, the ultimate consignee was us. However, destination agent was same as in MBL. The Destination Agent billed heavily towards Destination DO charges, claiming Rs 41,000 ($700) for a small LCL Shipment of just 4 cbm/260 kgs which was just 4% of full FCL by volume or 1% by weight. The CIF Value of the machine was $ 1,137 (Rs 66,600) . In short, the Destination Agent billed almost 61% of CIF Value as their charges just to issue Delivery Order.

    Now, when Destination Agent does not issue DO, we can not present the shipment to customs, and we go on incurring Demurrage charges. Since we are the True, Legal and rightful owner of the Shipment, the Liner (Carrier) is legally required to deliver the cargo/property to the True and Rightful owner, that is, we as consignee.

    The Carrier contends that they have no direct relationship with the Consignee as per HBL and they owe the liability only to MBL Consignee (who is not legal owner of the cargo or goods because it was bought by us against payment). We want to claim the cargo from the Carrier whose agent the MBL holder issued the HBL. The actions of the agents are binding on the Principal (Carrier) and in fact, the forwarder has issued the HBL as Agent for the Carrier.

    The normal charges are about $125 or about against which the Destination Agent is charging us $700. They may claim even $1 Millions which we are not supposed to pay.

    We have claimed the Cargo from the carrier under HBL issued by the Forwarder as Agent for the Carrier. So far, there is no reply. Our goods are incurring the demurrages. we are prepared to pay normal charges to the carrier as per their normal scale. If the Carrier does not oblige us, we want to Sue the Carrier for “Default on Delivery under Freight Prepaid Bill of Lading” and inform all shipping companies around the world to bring moral pressure. We can not allow ourselves to be blackmailed, and cheated by the Destination Agent.

    Are there any innovative thoughts to claim our goods under Freight Prepaid Bill of Lading without becoming victim of blackmail of the destination agent?

    1. Moazam says:

      Dear Mr. Sunil. right now we are facing the same issue with one of the freight forwarder in china and they are black mailing us as well. shipment is from china to Nhava Sheva india. please share how you got over this problem. your kind reply will be extremely appreciated. please note my contact details. : Moazam@ipchem.com; cell: +92-323-8483043.

    2. Sanup says:


      Hope you have sorted our above mentioned issue.

      For future LCL shipments you should check the Destination charges from Origin before you book the shipment.
      If you negotiate the charges from Origin then you will not be charged higher at destination.

      In this case you can only request/put pressure on your supplier to sort it out from Origin, to reduce the destination charges.
      Supplier can negotiate with origin agent & origin agent will sent instruction to destination agent to reduce the charges.

  34. Hi Bill, it seems from your msg, you dont know the supplier or have confidence in them.. In such cases, it is ALWAYS advisable to go the Letter of Credit route so you know that your payment is secure and there is less chance of fraud.. However, since you have already undertaken the journey, here is my suggestion :

    1) Insist on the Shipping lines bill of lading consigned directly to you
    2) If you are able to change the payment terms then pls arrange for the Master Bill to be issued first (but unlikely the first time supplier will agree to this – they also need their security)

  35. Dilrukshi says:

    Hi, Kindly advise me what are the benefits of issuing a House B/L more than Master B/L?.

  36. Ankesh says:

    Hello all
    I have a shipping and forwarding license operating in UAE
    Is there any specific requirement for issuing a house bill of lading for lcl and fcl shipments

  37. Nancy Hart says:

    There are 3 types of bills of lading: Ocean or Regular bill which is the PPI (principal party of Interest) or cargo shipper directly to the Ocean carrier (vessel). No NVOCC is involved. then there is Master bill which is issued by the steamship line to an NVOCC, and a House Bill which is issued by the NVOCC to the actual PPI or cargo shipper. If there is a Master bill there should always be a House bill. If there is an Ocean bill or Regular bill, no House bill is expected.

    1. CK Wong says:

      So basically any freight forwarder can issue their own HBL without any rules and regulations set by government or other government agencies?

  38. sokheng says:

    Can you tell me what does NVOCC mean?

    1. Hi Sokheng, you can search this site for NVOCC.. There are several articles on this topic..

    2. Nancy Hart says:

      Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier. In many trades it is called a Freight Forwarder as well.

    3. Sanup says:

      NVOCC stands for Non Vessel Owning Common Carrier. NVOCC operation comprises of sales, stuffing and transport of the containers to gateway ports.

  39. priyankara says:

    Dear sir, pl tell who issues delivery order “overseas counterpart of the freight forwarder or overseas counterpart of the carrier. from Priyankara

    1. Hi Priyankara, a good question.. I will post an answer to your question as an article so it can benefit others as well..

  40. sami says:

    hi ,again .Mr. Hariesh I was reading about the types of master bill of lading(which is issued by shipping lines ) and came to the conclusion that they are 5 types :
    1-org. bill of lading
    2-express bill of lading
    3-seaway bill of lading
    4-way bill of lading
    5-draft bill of lading

    Am I wright with this ?
    plz answer soon.

    1. Hi Sami, there is no bill type called Original Bill of Lading and Draft Bill of Lading.. Only Straight Bill of Lading and Order Bill of Lading (also known as Negotiable bill of lading) are issued in Original.. Other bills of lading like Way bill of lading (4) (which is same as Seaway Bill of lading (3)) are issued without any originals.. Also read my article http://shippingandfreightresource.com/bill-of-lading-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important/..

    2. sami says:

      thank you very much .that was very helpful.

  41. sami says:

    hi ,thanks for the info . I work in a freight forward company and I have a question :
    you say that hbl & mbl differ in the shipper , consignee and notify but I saw hbls and mbls for the same shipment that have the same shipper,the same consignee and the same notify party .can you please clarify this ?
    thank you very much

    1. Hi Sami, the general purpose of issuing a HBL is if the forwarder in question wants to control the cargo and not leave it under the direct control of the line, and also since there will be variation in freights between the HBL and MBL.. But there is nothing stopping a forwarder from issuing a HBL using the EXACT same details as the MBL, but its just that such an issuance would be superfluous.. Not only superfluous, but it will then mean that there are two documents of title to the same shipment which cannot be the case.. I will cover this topic in a later post..

      You can also read one of my articles – http://shippingandfreightresource.com/how-do-i-know-whether-the-bill-of-lading-issued-is-a-house-bill-of-lading-or-a-master-bill-of-lading/
      which explains it a bit further..

  42. Liz says:

    Hi! I have a question about HBL, when a forwarder needs the HBL original, what’s the purpose of that?

  43. yunita says:

    Hi, I am a student interested in this field. I have questions : looking from the exporter perspective, when a forwarder service is involved,

    1. The BL number on the invoice sent from forwarder to exporter, must include the BL number as stated in HBL or MBL?
    2. If the BL number used is as in MBL, can the exporter get the original MBL from the shipper?
    3. May exporter get it from the forwarder or must acquire it themselves from the shipper?

    Many thanks!

  44. Sergey says:

    there is a mistake, “In the MBL” and “In the HBL” should be interchanged. Thank for your work anyway

    1. Hi Sergey, pls clarify how you mean it should be interchanged..??

    2. Sergey says:

      I did not read enough thoroughly, now understood, sorry

  45. M.I.NEHAL says:

    First of all thanks for your knowledge . Sir I need to know on b/l is anywhere mention HBL or MBL ? or we just check details of shipper , fright forwarder , customer etc.

  46. Puspa says:

    Is it possible for the Consignor to request from the Freight Forwarder Master BL instead of House BL?

  47. Premkumar says:

    Hi Hariesh, Thanks … The explanations to the queries raised by readers are given in clear & precise terms. I found your blog site very useful, keep the good work going.

  48. MEGHA says:

    Sir , i have master bill of lading n there is exporter name mention on b/l in shipper column then according to you it would be HBL because as per you advice HBL shows actual shipper name Please clarify this

  49. duncan ocholi says:

    very informative,keep up the good work.

  50. GANGA SOJI says:


    1. Hi Ganga, whether it is a House Bill or Master Bill, if it is a negotiable bill, it bears the same value and importance.. In cases where there is a HBL and and MBL, usually the HBL will be the negotiable document..

      HBL can show consignee name as TO ORDER and will be accepted by banks as part of the negotiating documents..

      There maybe cases however, where LC’s might insist on the shipping lines direct ocean bill of lading rather than a house bill of lading..

  51. grace says:

    Hi! Just want to know if there will be problem in releasing if in my Liner BL I will mention the destination agent (X) as Consignee and the real consignee (Y) as my Notify Party?! All other shipping documents will be named to Real Consignee (Y).

    1. Hi Grace, if bill of lading is consigned to a named consignee (straight bill of lading), it can be transferred to anyone else by way of an endorsement from consignee on the bill of lading – say from X to Y.. This can be done ONLY BY THE NAMED CONSIGNEE ON THE BILL OF LADING..

  52. K Prabhakar says:

    It is very useful; what is the meaning of NVOCC

    1. vedashree says:

      Dear Prabhakar,

      pls go thru the google also

      A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or other companies…

      Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC)
      Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC)

      An ocean carrier that does not own or operate their own vessels.

    2. MohammadIslam says:




  54. Leslie says:

    Is a strait b/l the same as a through b/l?

    1. Hi Leslie, Through Bill of lading refers to the way in which the cargo will be delivered and will include various receipt and delivery points.. A Straight Bill refers to a bill of lading where the consignee is a DIRECT consignee (a company or individual) and this bill is a Non-negotiable bill.. Basically only the person who has been nominated on the bill of lading as consignee can take delivery of the cargo after proving identity, whether company or personal..


    2. Hi Leslie, straight bill of lading refers to the terms of who the cargo must be delivered to.. Basically cargo is shipped by X to consignee Y.. So only consignee Y has the right to transfer it to someone else if they so wish..

      Through bill of lading refers to the terms how the cargo must be delivered to – say for example it is moved from Port Louis to Durban by a feeder vessel and from Durban to Antwerp by mainline vessel and then Antwerp to Oslo by feeder vessel.. There will be 1 document issued showing Pre-carriage from Port Louis and On-carriage to Oslo..

      Through bill can be consigned to a named consignee as well which will make it a straight bill of lading..

  55. nirthanakali says:

    ur blog is very useful for new exposure like me thank u very much

  56. So helpful information, thanks.

  57. Bozi says:

    I have misplace original OBL (full set-export ) and i have notified the carrier of the same. what are consequences and what i am suppose to do as the forwarder

  58. Julia says:

    Hey! I have a tricky question. If I received from my freight forwarder house bill of lading, and then my forwarder contracted the other freight forwarder (let’s say forwarder Nr. 2) and received from him master bill of lading. Am I in cotract terms with forwaerder Nr.2?

  59. Suhail Kamran says:

    Can anyone tell me if I have to submit the original Bill of Lading to US customs? I have brokers in Baltimore to do this for me but they aren’t being really helpful. I have a scanned copy from the shipper. I am getting a full container shipped from Pakistan to Baltimore (US). The container went from Karachi (Pakistan ) to Oman on a vessel number X. From Oman to Baltimore the vessel number changed. Should I expect a new BL since the vessel number changed? I only have the BL that was issued in Karachi and has the original Vessel number on it.

    1. Hi Suhail, the Original Bill of Lading is to be surrendered to the Shipping line that issued it.. Transhipment is a normal process that takes place with most cargoes, therefore a bill of lading with the first vsl name on it is fine.. When the shipping line files the manifest with customs, they will file under the actual discharging vessel..

    2. saadkami says:


      Thanks for the reply. I also got this from my broker “We received a copy of a non-negotiable bill of lading from you already which usually means that a original bill of lading is not needed by the shipping line”. I think that means that I do not need to provide them the original document. I appreciate your response.

    3. Suhail, if you have taken an original bill of lading, you must have taken it for a reason.. Either to fulfill an L/C requirement or pass onto your buyer as a proof of shipment so you can get paid.. If an original bill of lading was issued, it needs to be surrendered to the shipping line either at origin or destination in order for them to release the cargo to you or your consignee.. Receiving the copy of a Non-Negotiable bill doesn’t mean that an original bill of lading is NOT required.. Maybe your broker is talking about a Seaway Bill or Express Bill.. If you wish you can scan the bill of lading to my email id and i can check and advise you..

  60. larry says:

    Will the MBL number be different on the MBL and the HBL ?

    1. Hi Larry, the MBL and HBL are issued by two different companies, so they will have their own numbering systems and for all practical purposes it is better to have both different in order for easy identification.. Otherwise in the case of a Telex Release etc, it can cause major confusion..

  61. Sunil Rawat says:

    Thanks a lot for the details, it will help a lot

  62. Ajay menon says:

    Thanks for the same…Was confused a lot

  63. sabdo rahayu says:

    it’s very use full..thank’s…

  64. raja says:

    can the NVOCC BL be considered as a “carrier” BL when their own container is used but on another carrier where there is slot arrangement

  65. munah says:

    providing very good information..

  66. Vidya says:

    what is surrender letter

  67. Ahmed says:

    hi, Sometimes a big forwarder gets a better rates according to his big work volume how can another forwarder use his rates without the customer knows does HBL and MBL do the job here?? thanks

  68. Richard says:

    Thank you for valuable information. As far as Ocean Freight Charges are concerned, I need the explanations and differences between following:

    1. Master Collect and House Collect
    2. Master Collect and House Prepaid
    3. Master Prepaid and House Prepaid
    4. Master Prepaid and House Collect

  69. indah says:

    I am not familiar with all this matter but now I have to deal with it. I have received MBL with ” Verify Copy ” written on it and I giveit to the consignee but they ask for MBL without ” Verify Copy “. Please advise what is the different ?

    1. Manaadiar says:

      Hi Indah, Verify Copy is the copy of the bill of lading that the shipping line sends to the shipper/or their agent to confirm and verify that all the details on the bill of lading are correct and final before the issue the ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING.. Once this bill is verified as correct and final by the shipper/or their agent and if there are any charges, there will be manifest correctors..

      Your consignee is asking for MBL without Verify Copy means he is asking for the ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING.. He cannot get release of the cargo without the original bill of lading.

      Trust same is clear..

  70. talita says:

    mbl and hbl can have different dates?

    1. Manaadiar says:

      Hi Talita, definitely not.. The HBL has to be an exact replica of the MBL except for any changes in Shipper, Consignee and Notify details.. Other than that, in the interest of the NVOCC or Forwarder issuing the HBL, they better make sure that the HBL/MBL are the same..

  71. Pine Pogody says:

    Some thing that you should notice here is which hold responsibility in term of payment..for example, by Letter of credit card,payment in advance,document against payment..or telegraphic transpher..so complicated something goes…

  72. Q1// What is the difference between Release bill of Lading, Telex Release bill, Surrendered bill and SeaWay bill ? Please explain separately with examples.

    Q2// Why and When does the BL is Released ? Actually When does it require to release the bl ? Is it a matter of payment term? Is there any bank involvement?

    Why and When does the BL is surrendered ? Actually When does it require to surrender the bl ? Is it a matter of payment term? Is there any bank involvement?

    Q3// Who take the decision that the BL should be Released or Surrendered or Telex Released or Sea way bill? Supplier or Consignee or Freight Forwarder or the Shipping Line?

    Susmita Golam

    1. Manaadiar says:

      Hi Susmita, if you search the blog you will find all the answers to your questions..

    2. Where and How to reach the blog? How to be a memeber here?

      Susmita Golam

    3. Manaadiar says:

      If you go the main page (http://shippingandfreightresource.com) you will see on the right side a link “do you want it all on mail” – there is option for you to input your email id.. Input your email id and click on “Yebo, sign me up” that is all.. No membership required, you will receive all future updates..

    4. Yes, I got it . One more question : How to search any selected topic or subject?

      Susmita Golam

    5. Ragrding the questions on Release bill and surrendered bill – Can you please help me with the LINK? I could not find it.

      Susmita Golam

  73. archana says:

    salman is 50% right as the nvocc also do the fcl container & lcl shipment too.


  75. Albert Mhizha says:

    Hi Salman,

    Its not necessarily about consolidation. An NVOCC can also ship FCLs.

    1. It is absolutely interesting.

      Well my name is Damola, Please kindly advice on the difference between non-negotiable and original B\L

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