Difference between House bill of lading & Master bill of lading

What is the difference between House Bill of Lading, Master Bill of Lading..

  1. House Bill of Lading (HBL) is issued by the NVOCC/Freight Forwarder to the actual customer
  2. Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is issued by the Shipping Line (Carrier) to the NVOCC/Freight Forwarder –  also known as Ocean Bill of Lading
  3. House Bill of Lading will be an EXACT replica of the Master Bill of Lading issued by the actual Shipping line in respect of cargo details.. The only difference will be that the shipper, consignee and notify party details 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..

The rest of the details like vessel/voyage information, cargo description, number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements etc etc will all remain the same..

Unless required otherwise by the L/C, the HBL can also be used as a negotiable document and can be considered the title of goods and receipt of cargo same as an MBL.. In the interest of the NVOCC operator and their insurance coverage/exposure, it is recommended that all the details except the shipper, consignee and notify details on the HBL remain the same on the MBL..

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  1. Hi Harieesh,

    I really like your site, thanks for sharing, btw I need your help to give me advice on this case. This is my first time to import goods and to do transaction with this supplier, currently I have paid the 20% down payment and the supplier suggest me to finish the rest 80% payment after she gets me the HBL issued by FF, then she will give me the Original Bill of lading and arrange the Telex Release respectively. I have agreed with the terms.

    My questions, in the case where I have fulfilled the payment and this supplier intend to do fraudulence..
    - Is she able to recall the goods, will the shipping agent verify her request?

    - How long usually it takes the time difference between HBL issued vs. MBL issued?

    - Would there be a big risk for me to finish the payment before I get the MBL? Or should I change the payment term, like I give full payment after I get the MBL?

    - How these agreements are usually implemented? Any thoughts or justification?

    Thanks in advance for your help.


    • Hi Bill, it seems from your msg, you dont now 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)

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  4. 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

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  6. 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.

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

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  9. 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.

  10. 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

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