What is a Switch Bill of Lading and when and why is it used..??

Its one of the most sought after bills of lading across many countries and is one of the most searched for and read articles on this blog..

What is a Switch Bill of Lading..

A “Switch” bill of lading is the second set of bill of lading that may be issued by the carrier (or agent) in exchange for the first set of bill of lading originally issued when the shipment was effected..

Why does one ask for or require a Switch bill of lading..??

Switch bills are requested generally when there has been a change in the original trading conditions..  Some of the reasons could be :

  • Goods could have been resold and the discharge port has now been changed to another port and this could have occurred as a high-seas sale..
  • The seller (who could be an intending agent) does not wish the name of the actual exporter to be known to the consignee in case the consignee strikes a deal with the exporter directly..
  • The seller does not want to know the buyer to know the actual country of origin of the cargo so he requests that the port of loading be shown as some port other than the one the cargo was loaded from..

Image for article regarding who can request for switch bill of ladingWhere can a bill of lading be switched..??

Depending on the shipping line and their coverage a bill of lading maybe switched anywhere around the world for shipments from anywhere to anywhere..

For example on a shipment from New York to Antwerp, the bill of lading maybe switch in London as long as the shipping line in question has offices in London..

Is the issuance of Switch Bill of Lading legal..??

While there is nothing to say specifically that issuance of a switch bill of lading is illegal (unless there is willful intent to commit fraud), it seems to be the concerted view of almost all insurance companies, that a switch bill of lading issued with any misrepresentation or information contrary to the first set issued, without the express acceptance and understanding of the buyer is a fraudulent document..

In order to protect themselves from any possible claims arising out of issuing switch bills of lading, the shipping line/agent have to ensure that

  • They are covered by their insurance for issuance of such switch bills of lading
  • They should provide their insurance company with the exact reason for the issuance of the switch bill of lading..
  • They must have the written authority of the principal before issuing the switch bill of lading, if the issuing party is acting as agents for a shipping line or principal..
  • They must issue the switched bill only after collecting the first set of bills, as the dangers of two sets of original bills in circulation for the same cargo are many..
  • The switched set should not contain any information different to that of the original bill of lading, (like incorrect port of loading, or change in the condition and quantity of the cargo).. If switch bills contains misrepresentations, the carrier/agent will be at risk of claims from parties who have suffered a loss because of such misrepresentations..
  • If the agent has been asked by the principal to issue the switch bill of lading based on an indemnity from the customer, the agent should ensure to get the wording format from the principal and get the completed indemnity approved by the principal before issuing the switch bill of lading..

Switch Bills of Lading – Revisited – an article by NAU Pte Ltd., might shed some more light on the matter from a claims company perspective

Have you had any experiences of issuing/requesting for switch bill of lading..??

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

136 comments on “What is a Switch Bill of Lading and when and why is it used..??

  1. I handled one triangle tarde shipment in this month. Acutually we do not use Swith B/L for the reason that the carrier refuse to do it. It is complicated and costs some fees to handle. We use different shipper+consignee for Master B/L and House B/L to solve this problem.

    For example, there are 3 roles in triangle trade: manufacturer(A), trading agent(B), actual buyer(C).
    Master B/L: trading agent(B), actual buyer(C)
    House B/L: manufacturer(A), trading agent(B)

    The key point is the carrier should be ok for you to use a foreign company as the shipper in your country. By the way, I am China. It is ok to do so.

  2. Ali says:

    In a triangular shipment, if it is not necessary to use a switch BL (the name of the manufacturer is not information you wish to hide from the consignee), then who would prepare the documentation? The cargo ships directly from the manufacturer (country A) to the consignee (country C). The seller (country B) arranges the sale.
    BL: The manufacturer is the shipper/exporter on the BL. Consignee is company in country C. (There is no switch BL)
    Commercial invoice: The CI is still switched. So the original manufacturer’s CI (for export from A) is switched with the seller’s CI (for import to C).
    Packing list: Is this just an extension of the commercial invoice? Would this be switched too? Or remain a packing list from the manufacturer?
    Is this possible?

  3. Mayank Shukla says:

    Hi Ngoc, Yes it is quite possible without any problem . Actual Shipper – Indonesia , Broker – Vietnam , Actual Consignee – USA.. Now what we have to do First BL will be prepare “Shipper : Indonesia and Consignee : Vietnam” then Switch BL (Let say Second BL) will be prepare “Shipper : Vietnam and Consignee : USA” and accordingly you have to issue invoices . Please note that BL no. will be same in both BLs only suffix will need to be placed (for Example First BL No. is 1234A then second BL No. would be 1234B) . Also there is one notable thing is please avoid to get switch BL from carrier directly , please involve freight forwarder to get switch BL . There is no rocket science in this and it is very very simple . Also the ISF in USA would be filled as per second BL & second Invoice .Please let me know if you have any query further .

    1. Ngoc Anh says:

      Thank you for answering me ^^, Mayank.

    2. Ngoc Anh says:

      BTW, I’m not sure that I get what you meant. “Also there is one notable thing is please avoid to get switch BL from carrier directly, please involve freight forwarder to get switch BL.” => That means we should switch HBL/not MBL, right?

  4. Ngoc Anh says:

    Hi there,

    Is there anyone can help the above issue plz? Thanks very much 🙁

  5. Ngoc Anh says:

    Hariesh Manaadiar,

    Could you please let me know if it’s possible to implement a triangular trade for actual Shipper in INDONESA-brocker in Vietnam-actual Cnee in USA? Cuz when publishing 1st Bill, Carrier informed us, USA Cnee must be shown on bill instead of Vietnamese.
    Even we told them this is the crosstrade and our Customer requested to hide Actual Shipper/actual Cnee’s information on 1st bill, we will switch bill in the Carrier’s local agent who commits to take responsibilities for that.
    Please let me know if there is any regulalions/policies which indicate that we have to show all USA Cnee’s information for the same case like this plz?

    1. Hello Ngoc, for all cargo going to USA the actual consignee name needs to be reflected in the bill of lading or needs to be advised to the shipping line.. For shipments to USA, consignee in other countries are not accepted..

    2. Ngoc Anh says:

      Thank you for all information very much, Hariesh.

  6. Santosh P. says:

    Dear Harish,

    In brief “To Order” BL can be switched… Right ??

    Thanks / Santosh P.

  7. Htet Ko Zin says:

    Thanks a lot, sir

  8. firman says:

    If the first B/L want to switched and B/L status is surrendered, is it acceptable or not

    1. Mayank Shukla says:

      Both BLs (First BL & switch BL) need to surrendered. Without getting first BL surrendered no one can issue switch BL .

  9. firman says:


    If B/L want to switch, whether the first B/L can be surrendered

  10. KAMAL UDEEN says:

    Hi it is possible for the forwarder to issue the switch BL ?

  11. Hassan says:

    Hi, we are a Dubai based company and I have sold machinery by L/C from Italy sent to Bahrain. Can I keep the same date of shipment from Italy is I switch the B/L in Dubai? I will change the shipper and consignee as well. is it possible?

    1. Hi, all other details remain same other than the shipper, consignee, notify..

  12. Howard says:

    Hi, my company hq is located in one country and a branch in the USA. when the shipment leaves our HQ, we list the consignee as the USA branch but before the shipment arrives to port, we switch the consignee to the buyer. the reason for this is because the usa branch is responsible for invoicing the customer and collecting payment and then we pay our HQ. is this common practice and how would I explain this to future customers. Thanks

    1. Hi Howard, this is common practice although it is the line’s prerogative whether they agree to switch or not and also your insurance company’s prerogative whether they will cover this or not..

      For your situation, a better alternative could be for you to issue an original bill of lading with consignee as “To Order of Shipper” and then once you know the final buyer the shipper can endorse this bill for cargo to be delivered to the new buyer.. You can also avoid the delays and costs for Switching the bill and also be covered legally..

  13. Nicole Teh says:

    Hello, my shipment is using Seaway bill (non negotiable) ex USA to Singapore. Customer request to switch shipper, consignee and notify party at Singapore. Is this allowed? What is the procedure?

    1. Hi, it is not possible because for a switch bill, there has to be an original issued first.. If you switch a SWB then there will be two bills of lading for which there is no originals required..

    2. Nicole says:

      My shipment ETA Singapore soon (4 Nov) , on 27 Oct customer just request for switch SWB. They claim that they unable to do clearance using the existing shipper, consignee and notify party. Meanwhile at the origin my forwarder (BDP USA) already sent a request to carrier (K Line US) to request for switch but still couldn’t get any feedback. What else I can do now ?

  14. Pandit Santosh says:


    Good Afternoon,

    Our esteemed customer has raised a query… Please guide.

    * 1st set of OBL issued with consignee as “TO ORDER” and they would like to issue 2nd set of OBLs as “TO ORDER”

    * 1st set of OBL issued with consignee & notify as XYZ, but they would like to release 2nd set of OBL consigned as “TO ODER”.

    Kindly guide, can we issue switch b/l in this case, since the documents are negotiable.

    Thanks in advance.

    Brgds/Santosh Pandit

    1. Hello Santosh.. As I have written, any switch bill of lading issued is done at the risk of the shipper and shipping line.. Some of the lines will issue the SBL however based on the surrender of the full set of OBLs issued.. I am not clear on what is the difference between first and second set here “* 1st set of OBL issued with consignee as “TO ORDER” and they would like to issue 2nd set of OBLs as “TO ORDER””

  15. Bharathi M says:

    Dear Sir,

    we are in India and shipping consginment to Dubai. My customer asking for Switch BL. Asking to Switch BL as their name as shipper and their customer name as Consignee who is also from Dubai. What is the procedure

  16. Tiffany says:

    Hi Sir,

    I am a freight forwarder in Qingdao but dont have any office in HK. How can I swtich the HBL in HK as per my client’s request ? is it possible to appoint an agent in HK to switch the HBL for me ? Which company HBL should be issued as the 2nd set BL, my company HBL or the HK agent’s HBL ?

    Please advise with thanks.

  17. vinit sharma partner eco recyclers India says:

    dear sir/madam

    We are India based company, we get a recycling plant and machinery through UAE based company by switching their bill. In bill of lading number of packages are shown 5 while in bill of entry no. of packages are shown 7. Even the supplied machinery is scrap,old and used parts of a plant. Can we get details of first bill of lading and what kind of goods were loaded at uk port as shown in bill of lading.

    1. Pls elaborate what you mean by “we get a recycling plant and machinery through UAE based company by switching their bill”.. Are you the buyer of the goods..??

  18. Diederik says:

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    we are a trading company based in Shanghai. We now have a shipment of goods which need to get from India (supplier) to Vietnam (customer) without coming to China in between. We were thinking about using a switch B/L in order to protect the identity of our supplier in India and to protect our customer’s identity towards our supplier at the same time. Using a switch B/L would be a first time for us; can we use a switch B/L legally? who would be in charge of arranging and switching this switch B/L? When will this switch B/L be issued; in India before shipment / during shipping / upon arrival at port of destination?

    1. Michael says:

      Hi Diederic… In India it is very normal for us to issue switch bills of lading …

      The actual shipper has to make a request to the freight forwarder, and the House Bill of lading can be arranged for a switch …

      The procedure is simple. You will first be issued a normal bill of lading, which you need to surrender , against which the switch bill of lading will be issued.

      However you should be aware that only the Shipper / Consignee / Notify details can be changed. Port of loading / discharge or destination cannot be changed…

  19. Suresh says:


    I am from a shipping company. In one of our shipments, we had issued OBL to our shipper after sailing of the vessel. The consignee is a Dubai based company and the shipment is going to Bangkok. The consignee now wants to switch the B/L from India.

    My doubt is that whether we can switch the B/L from India against surrender of the Original B/L which was issued from India itself (origin of shipment is India). If not, why ? Is there any problem in legal point of view?

    1. Hello Suresh, a bill of lading can be switched anywhere as long as the carrier has an office there which can switch it for you.. This place can also be the origin port.. As long as the tenets of the Switch Bill are followed..

  20. Manish says:

    Hi. My company is based in india. I have multiple suppliers in Europe from whom I will buy goods and I am selling to a single buyer in Singapore. Can I switch these multiple bill of lading with a single BL? Is it necessary to inform European supplier about the final destination ?

  21. Kanwaldeep says:

    My company (T) is in India. My buyer (B) is in Turkey and my supplier (S) is in Vietnam. My buyer B issues me an LC . I , in turn issue an LC to Supplier (S). Now S loads and ships the goods and send the documents to my bank through LC. In those documents, S is the shipper and T is the consignor. I opt for swtich BL and change the shipper to M and consignee to B.
    But what about the other document like Pre shipment inspection certificate, Phytosanitary etc. How do I change those ? If I ask S to do that, the. I have to disclose the details of my Buyer B.

    1. Mohamed Muddasir Baig says:


      Once you receive the PO from client you should read all terms and condition and plan accordingly , for Pre shipment inspection certificate you need to inform to client in advance that you will issue a certificate in your letter head as you will have a original certificate from supplier.

  22. Kanwaldeep says:

    I am a trader in India. I have a buyer in Turkey who issues me an LC. I am buying and shipping the goods from Vietnam. For which I have issued an LC to Vietnam seller.
    Now when the seller sends me documents, he will mention himself as shipper and me as consignee. For that I can opt for BL switch, but for other documents like Pre shipment inspection, phytosanitary (If reqd) etc, how can we switch those ? And for discounting my LC I need to have all those documents with me as the shipper and my Turkey buyer as the consignee.
    If I ask my supplier to do it in advance then he will get to know my buyer.

  23. Hiten says:

    My company (Trader T) in Hong Kong sources goods from a manufacturer (M) in Japan and sells to a customer (C) in India.
    We do not wish to disclose to M where we are selling the goods, nor do we wish to disclose to C where we are sourcing the goods from. Our understanding was that the first BL would have: Consignor: M, Consignee: T, PoL: Japan, PoD: HK and the second BL would have Consignor: T, Consignee: C, PoL: HK and PoD: India.
    However, we are told by our agent that the PoD on both BLs (original and switch) will be India – we want the first BL to have PoD as HK else M comes to know that we are simply trading the goods, which will affect our other business with them. Please advise if we have to re-export? or if we should use switch BL only?

    1. Hello Hiten, you cannot amend POL/POD in a switch bill of lading.. only shipper/consignee/notify can be amended.. If the shipping line allows you to change POL/POD you maybe able to do it, but it might not be supported by your insurance company in case of any claims..

  24. POONAM says:


  25. nancy says:

    can we change the port of loading in the switch BL

    1. Hello Nancy, technically it is not allowed..

  26. Elta says:

    Is there a problem if the cargo will be from China going to Vietnam, shipper is in Japan, normally, Japan forwarder issues the B/L, is there any problem if the B/L is issued by the same forwarder but in Hongkong branch? Any consequences on the side of the shipper? Your immediate reply is appreciated.
    Thank you

  27. Rahul says:


    We have a shipment from India to Ghana and the BL to be switched from Dubai. The customer wants to get more than one switch BL against one 1st leg BL. Is it allowed to issue more than one switch BL against one original 1st leg BL? This is a consolidation cargo.

    Also please give an idea about what are the changes we can made on a switch BL from the original 1st leg BL.


  28. Cemile Ongoru says:

    What should be the date of Switch Bill of Lading, same day with the original one or the day it’s issued?
    Will appreciate your help!

    1. Hello Cemile, an interesting question, and the answer is yes, the date should be the same.. As mentioned in my article, the only thing that you are allowed to really change is the Shipper/Consignee/Notify – all the rest cannot and should not be changed..

  29. Mariana says:


    Would it be possible to use a switch BL when sending cargoes to the US? I’m asking you this because we need to submit information through a shipping line for ISF purposes (company does not have a SCAC code) and my customer wants to hide the consignee information from shipper. I’m not sure if according to ISF, shipper has to be a company located in the same place as shipper.

    1. Anh Pham says:

      Hi Mariana, could you advise us how did your cross trade shipment to NYC progress plz? I have the same case but the Carrier informed us the USA/NOTIFY PARTY must be SHOWN on 1st bill @@

  30. Chinthaka says:


    Please advise during a switch B/L can a customer requests to change the Line as well?? If you issue a B/L belongs to line A and from the switch B/L point, can we issue a B/L belongs to Line B. Appreciate you explanation in this regard.

    1. Not at all.. This is not possible as the boxes will belong to one carrier..

  31. roselyn says:

    Dear Mr. Hariesh,

    We purchased goods from UK thru LC. We want to switch the bill of lading and sell it to another party. My question is , can we change the description of the goods like reference number and LC number as we sell it thru LC also.

    1. Hello Roselyn, that would totally depend on the shipping line that you are using.. Reference numbers, LC numbers etc does not form part of the cargo description and a shipping line can very well refuse to show these details on the bill of lading as it is not part of the contract.. In a normal switch bill of lading the cargo details itself cannot be changed.. Trust this assists..

  32. Alex says:

    My company brought a goods from China on FOB basic and selling it on CIF basic to our customer. We would like to shipped the goods directly to our customer at Italy. We understand that we should apply for switch BL in order to hide the detail of both buyer and seller. Could you explain us how is the procedures in details? Should we arrange the shipping line by ourselves since we plan the freight charges will prepaid in Singapore? We understand that we should surrender the first BL and ask the shipping line to reissue with second set of BL, but can we change the POL, POD, Shipping Marks and Description of Goods in the switch BL?

    1. dev says:

      Dear Alex,
      good day,this is Dev from dubai working in Shipping Line, we can change the POL,POD but we cannot change the description of goods.

  33. bassem_e_f says:

    I am an agent (intermediary), who bought the cargo from the manufacturer on FOB basis. I have received original B/L from the manufacturer. While the vessel is in the sea, I need to switch B/L to have my company as the shipper and the end client as the consignee and notify party? Would you kindly tell me the procedures in details

    1. Hello Bassem, this is a classic switch bill of lading scenario.. Basically you can surrender the first set of original bills to the shipping line and ask them to reissue the second set as per your new sh/cn/no details..

  34. Mayur says:

    Hello Hariesh

    Thank you for this article, it is very helpful.

    I have a question regarding switching BL. Goods will be exported from China and going to USA. My company is in Hong Kong and I want to show my Hong Kong company as the exporter. The sales contract exists between my Hong Kong company and USA client. Can I simply switch BL at sea rather than importing into Hong Kong and then exporting again to USA?

    1. Hello Mayur, you can show Shipper on a bill of lading as anyone.. If your requirement is only to show the shipper as based in HK but shipping out of China, then you might not need to switch the bill at all, you can issue same bill of lading directly.. However, if China as a country has any ruling that the shipper has to be shown as from China, then you may have to switch.. Also since now HK is part of China, don’t think that would be an issue.. Suggest you clarify that with your Chinese agent..

  35. Larry says:

    Hi Hariesh,

    I am working on a project for which I wanted to use a Switch B/L but I am confused on how it works in detail even after reading your article.

    Situation is as follows:

    My company (AGENT) buys FOB from a factory in China (FACTORY) and sells FOB to a client in Germany (CLIENT).
    Agent does not want Client to know Factory.
    Agent wants to get the money from Client first against Copy B/L, then pay Factory against Copy B/L not having to pre-finance the order.

    I thought the process is as follows:

    Factory delivers the product FOB China.
    My thought was factory delivers the goods FOB to forwarder nominated by agent.
    Factory then gets original B/L from forwarder nominated by agent.
    Factory sends Copy B/L to agent to pay factory, only if agent pays factory, factory will release the original B/L to agent.

    Question 1:
    How can agent now issue a copy B/L to the client if agent does not have the original B/L yet?
    Factory would not want to send the original B/L before being paid in full.
    Agent would not want to pay the factory before being paid in full by client.
    But client would need a Copy B/L as a proof the product is on the ship in order to release the payment.

    This is a pretty urgent topic unfortunately and any help would be highly appreciated 



    1. Hi Larry, in any transaction, the commercial trade terms used (Incoterms) will play a very vital role in the process of who pays who and at what stage.. If you follow the Incoterms between the various parties involved, you would be able to ascertain who should pay first..

  36. Gary Ching says:

    Dear Hariesh,

    Referring to this point ” They must have the written authority of the principal before issuing the switch bill of lading, if the issuing party is acting as agents for a shipping line or principal”, i would like to clarify who is the principal referring to?

    Gary Ching

    1. Hello Gary, principal is anyone that an agent is acting on behalf of.. This could be an NVOCC operator or a Shipping Line..

  37. Sumit Chaudhary says:

    Hello aptrans impex

    If on OBL consignee is Indian Company & you wants to sell to your indian buyer. So there are two options.

    1. You can go ahead with the switch bill of lading
    2. You can sell the consignment to your indian buyer on high seas sale basis & there is no need to change obl. You have to make a contract with your buyer on 100 INR stamp paper. & date of stamp paper should be between ETD & ETA of the vessel.

  38. Imran says:

    Hi, i haev a questions to ask regarding switch bill, i have a shipment for Chille from Pakistan. I’ll be using this switch B/L from Dubai. Now in Pakistan we are bound to consign shipment to local bank in D/P payment terms so in this case the payment will be secure. Now what i wanted to know that is there any kind of possibility / system from Dubai where we can consign switch B/L in favor of Dubai local bank, in such case where there is no pre-shipping docs as shipment is moving directly from Pakistan to Chille. Will Dubai bank can come up in such cases and give security for payment…… OR any other better solution where i can use switch B/L and get payment security.

  39. Sya Ngema says:

    Hi, can you please brief me with the possible risk associated with the Switch Bill of Lading?

    1. Hi Sya, it is outlined in the article that you have commented on.. Please go through it..

  40. Venkatesh says:

    Can we switch the B/L at Dubai if the shipment is routed to Karachi via Colombo???

    1. Venkatesh, as long as the shipping line involved has an office and allows the bill of lading to be switched, you can switch it anywhere..

  41. Incase customer( consignee ) is asking to change discreption on H B/L and to be notm matching the descreption metioned on L/C ( LETTER OF CREDIT) is the Switch Bill is applicable ?

  42. Yasir Khan says:


    Can anyone help me out by explaining if there is a time limit as to when a BL should be switched? We have a consignment shipped and will arrive at the destination Port in 15 days time. Originals are with me and state me as ‘consignee’ but I don’t want to switch them until I receive 100% payment from the Importer. I am not based in the Importing country of the consignment and neither in the Exporting country.

    1. Hello Yasir, if bill of lading is directly consigned to you and all released original bills are still with you, then you are the only party that can authorise release further.. Once you have 100% payment, then you can surrender the OBL to the shipping line and ask them to release cargo to whoever you wish to release it to.. You don’t need a Switch bill then unless you have any other reason for switching the bill..??

      While there is no specific time limit as such for switching the bill, obviously it has to be done before the cargo is released and also within the free days at port and with the line so you/your new buyer doesn’t incur additional charges towards storage/demurrage etc..

  43. aptrans impex says:

    I am importing from Mauritius to India and selling the goods to my buyer in India by High Seas Agreement. Can I Switch BL such that my company name is in the seller on BL ? Basically my question is if I am in India and my buyer is also in India is it still possible to switch BL in same county?? Kindly advise. Thank you.

    1. Hello, there is no limitation on where the switch bill can be done.. However, there are some shipping lines who might not allow it in certain countries.. So best option would be to check with the shipping line concerned if they will accept or not..

  44. Prasanna. says:

    Hi, We are in India and one of our customer have a shipment from HK to CMB, an LC shipment, firstly our customer need to open an LC on HK Supplier and the shipment will travel from HK to CMB, the BL should be to the order of Bank in India and Notifying Our customer . Our Customer now want to obtain Swift BL and follow the LC instructions as per Srilankan Client.

    Please clarify in such scenario, on what grounds Bank in India can send the Foreign exchange , wherein the goods never came to India.

  45. aaron says:

    hi,we have a shipment from China to Beirut and the customer is in Dubai and he want to show Dubai company address in all documents and in Bill of lading also.Can you tell me how to make bill of lading details,because we are Dubai customer agent.

    1. Hi Aaron, I am not sure of the other documents that maybe used at the load port or discharge port for clearance purposes because each country has their own procedures.. But on the bill of lading you can show your Dubai customer in the shipper column if he show wishes..

    2. Leo says:

      Hi Aaron, you can issue the 2nd set of B/L from Dubai provided that you have an agent in Dubai to issue the exchange upon surrendering the 1st set of B/L.

  46. deepak says:

    Hi, we have a FCL shipment coming from China to Thailand. The goods are sold to Dubai while its on high seas. We do not want the buyer to know the shipper & the country of origin of the goods. We want to show shipper as our company & the origin as Thailand. Is it possible?

    1. Hi Deepak, if the shipping line allows it, you can do a Change of Destination request with the line, discharge the container in Thailand, surrender the first set of bills of lading and get a second set of bill of lading showing Thailand as the POL and Dubai as the POD.. Whether your insurance will cover such action, will have to be identified..

  47. Hira Haider says:

    Hi This is Hira From Karachi Pakistan working in a shipping line, i want know that why some seller of the goods nominated any of Dubai receiver whereas shipment actually booked for Spain base port..As i discussed this matter with FWD agent he said just this is not switch BL.this simply dispatch to Dubai agent who endorsed the BL and then send to Spain agent in order to get delivery of the goods.My question is why exporter does not nominated spain agent directly and what type of BL is this

  48. Vincent says:

    Hi Hariesh, What about customs declaration in case you do 24H declaration (pre loading) with a POL / POD which won’t be the same when shipment arrived at POD under switched BL ? then import local customs won’t match previous 24h déclaration

  49. Anil says:

    Hello Harish,

    It’s a great help that you are discussing and explaining these complex transactions here.

    I wonder if you could clarify how my requirement below would work in practical terms.

    I am based in US and operate a business of sourcing different goods from various overseas locations for supply to local buyers in the US.

    I have sourced a particular product from China for supplying to a buyer in US. The supplier in China has quoted me a FOB price and I have quoted FOB+markup to the buyer in the US. The buyer in US has informed me that they’d take care of the insurance and freight and customs clearance as they get preferential rates through their shipping agents. I would like to achieve the following:
    1. I do not want the buyer to know the supplier of the goods or the supplier to know the buyer. In other words, I’d like myself to appear as the consignor in the B/L. I understand that I can get the supplier in China to surrender the B/L and do a switch B/L to change to consignor to myself. Is this possible even when the buyer is handling the shippers?
    2. Can I amend the switch B/L to reflect a different commercial value i.e. FOB+markup?

    if the above is not possible, whet is the best way to go about doing this transaction. Basically, I would like to keep the identity of the buyer and supplier anonymous to each other and alter the invoice value to reflect the cost of goods plus my markup.

    Thanks in advance for your kind assistance.

  50. Mr. Harish
    I buy Shipment from Ukraine and want to sell it in turkey and I’m in egypt
    I want yo remove the shipper who is in ukraine and put my name instead and put my buyer as consignee in the switched Bl
    Is it possible and can I request that from the shipping line as I’m consignee not shipper in the first set of bl

  51. mukesh says:

    Mr Hariesj Manaadiar

    Can you please let me know what will be cost of switching bill of landing in Dubai

  52. peter says:

    what about the invoices do they have to be changed if consignee is changed etc,how will customs be done at destination

    1. Peter, whoever is switching the bill will also prepare new documents to match the bill of lading, otherwise you might have inconsistencies..

  53. GTan says:

    Hi thanks for this. My question relates to who can request a switch. You mentioned below that only the shipper can do so. However, what if the charterer is the consignee and he requests the switch. The change requested would be to remoe the original shipper and insert charterer as shipper. Obviously then consignee is a new party presumably the client of the charterer.

    Is this ok?

  54. Gautam says:

    I think in switched BL, only shipper / cnee & notify parties details are allowed to changed not POD and POL

    POD and POL should remain same.

    Please clarify if im not wrong..

  55. George Thomas says:

    Is it necessary to show discharge port agents details to be shown on a linere bill of lading ?

    1. Hi George, it is not necessary/mandatory (some lines do insist) but recommended so that the consignee at destination has a quick and easy indication of who to contact when the cargo arrives or to check the arrival of the cargo..

  56. Abhishek Gupta says:

    Hello, This was really very interesting article. I seek your help in clarifying the below –
    End client (A) located in Vietnam has placed an order on client B located in Taiwan. Client (B) has placed the order on us (C) located in India. We in turn are sourcing the materials from our principal (D) located in USA. We would be shipping materials from D directly to A, but party B has requested us to mention consignee as party B but with port of destination as Vietnam. After materials sail we need to intimate B – who will issue switch B/L changing shipper from D to B, and changing end customer as B to A. My questions –
    1. Is the above procedure correct?
    2. When the first B/L is prepared, though consignee is a party in Taiwan, would keeping port of discharge as Vietnam be correct?
    3. When taking insurance – which B/L do I refer to, while submitting details to insurance company (first B/L or switch B/L).

    Thank you so much.

  57. Ganesh says:

    As an agent for carrier, who supose to be issue SHBL, eigher sending agent or receiving agnet? as think it’s a triangle shipment buyer(UK) is the actual shipper and exporter(IN) files all paper with customs, exporter need HBL showing IN to US and consignee want SHBL showing Shipper(UK) to US.
    Pls advise…

  58. Biby says:

    we want return cargo from Doha to Dubai. Actual shipped from Yantian. Can you please advice about the consignees in both Switch and original B/Ls. As per my knowledge i got by reading the articles in this site, we need to put actual shipper in Yantian as the consignee for switch and in original B/L we can mention the consignee in dubai.

    1. Biby says:

      Cargo is shipped from yantian to Doha and is rejected by customs in Doha. now we are returning it to dubai instead of returning to original shipped port (yantian). Please advice.

    2. Biby, what would you like to know..??

  59. Clare says:

    How do you know, then if a bill of lading is switched ?
    Would one thing be if it has no original collection date on it, but is signed by the lorry driver ? That the storage company is put on as “the shipper ” when surly it would be the owner of the engines and the person who contracted the shipment who should be the shipper.

    1. Hi Clare, lorry drivers are not allowed to sign an ocean bill of lading.. Only the master of the vessel, the carrier (shipping line) or an agent of the carrier are allowed to sign a bill of lading..

      Anyway, you cannot tell if a bill of lading has been switched unless you have suspicion of the same and investigate quite a bit to get to the original details, which includes checking with the shipping line if it was switched, but they will not disclose details to any unrelated party..

      The bill of lading details are provided to the shipping line by the booking party in the initial phase and any switch bill of lading request should be sent by the shipper mentioned on the bill of lading..

      Please read http://shippingandfreightresource.com/who-can-request-shipping-line-to-issue-switch-bill-of-lading/ for further information on this..

  60. Tom says:

    Considering containe liner traffic, who is considered to be the “Principal”. authorised to request the switch? Is it the shipper stated on the B/L or th party booking the container(paying the freight). As these partys are not always the same?

  61. umair says:

    in switch bill of lading can we change the port of destination?

    1. Normally the switching is done to conceal the identity of the original shipper.. If someone needed to change the destination, then they can just change it as a normal Change of Destination..

  62. Amit gupta says:

    Very good article. My question is that in case the bill has bn switched
    and place of issue is shown as country x while place of issue in the original bl
    I.e. issued in the load port country y, and in the switched bl only shipper, place of issue is different , and basis switched bl , charterer has negotiated his LC ,
    and the original shipper is still holding the first set of bl, does he still hold the title of goods sold on fob basis and on whom he should raise his claim for the goods . For your information, the goods were discharged at the discharge port on the basis of loi submitted by the charterer. Original shipper is holding first set of bl for the last five months. Second question is that can the bl be switched without surrender of first original set or noc from the original shipper.

    1. Hello Amit, switch bill can be issued only if the request is received from the shipper on the bill of lading and after the first set has been surrendered to the shipping line..

      Maybe you got your question wrong.. Charterer (or anyone) negotiating an L/C based on the basis of a switched bill of lading is unheard of.. Its usually the other way around..

  63. Hari says:

    If a B/L is switched will it say switched B/L or it will look like a normal bill of lading ?

    1. No Hari, the bill will not show anywhere that it is switched.. Confidentiality is the key to the issuance of a switch bill of lading, so it wouldn’t make sense in mentioning that the bill has been switched.. The bill will look like a normal bill of lading..

  64. Elena S. Eaves says:

    Kim: thanks for the article on switch B/Ls I had never known that this was possible, if it were not for this article.
    One question that brings to mind if the original Exporter is not show or country of origin how would we know if the transaction is being re-routed to a place that U.S. Exporters are prohibited to ship to under Sanctions of U.S. Law?

    Elena S. Eaves

  65. Jackie says:

    I have seen the use of a switch bill to keep the name of the supplier from the name of the consigness is cases where there is an agent in the middle. However, I always wonder what is to stop the consignee from calling the shipping line and obtaining that information once they are a party to the BL?

    1. Hi Jackie, in most cases, the final receiver does not know that the bill of lading has been switched and that the shippers name shown is not the original shipper..

  66. Waleed says:

    We sold some material to the client that was not available in stock so we had to source from our supplier.

    Terms of delivery are FOB Busan with the supplier and C&F Karachi with the client.

    In supplier’s L/C
    POL: Busan
    POD: Jebel Ali or Karachi

    In Client’s L/C
    POL: Busan or Jebel Ali
    POD: Karachi

    Our intention is to ship the cargo directly from Busan to Karachi. We only want to change the shipper/Consignee at the time of switching the B/L. In initial B/L, supplier will be the shipper and our bank the consignee. In the switched B/L, we will be the shipper and our client’s bank will be the consignee.

  67. Waleed says:

    If we have an L/C with our supplier(Korea) and an L/C with our client(Pakistan) while we are in UAE, will the liner issue a switch B/L if the cargo is being shipped directly our supplier to our client.

    I am in such a situation and the forwarders are refusing to handle the shipment. I am not sure if the Liner does not allow the above or the forwarders are just reluctant to handle such a case. Looking forward to your thoughts.

    1. Hi Waleed, are you saying that you have two LC’s for the same shipment..?? Can you elaborate on original POL/POD and the new POL/POD..?? In any case, the switch bill cannot be used to change port of load/port of discharge.. It can be only used to change shipper/consignee/notify details..

  68. Aggie says:

    Is it possible to avoid Switch BL for triangular trade?

  69. john says:

    hi, was wandering if you have experiencing shipments from bangladesh origin? We have a shipment ex bangladesh to philippine wherein bangladesh side requires all BL consigned to bangladesh bank. The problem is in philippines, PH customs doesn’t accept any foreign consignee that has no import license, so we hold our order before this has been resolved. The option here is that once BL has been received and surrendered at philippines, we will switch BL and change to correct philippine consignee. Is this considered to be a switch BL process? Since OBL has been issued from the start. Please advise if this is valid? or other options to resolve

    1. Hi, yes this can also considered as a switch bill of lading case.. However, if the consignee is amended at a late stage, there could be repercussions at destination port with customs.. This also must be taken care of..

  70. Marinella says:

    Last october we ordered some equipments and parts from china and is now on shipboard, they haven’t yet issued us the b/l and we ask them for changing the consignee and they tols us that the shipping lines require us some fees. is that possible?

    1. Hi Marinella, usually after a ship sails a bill of lading should be issued to the shipper within say maximum 72 hours for longer transit cargoes.. Not sure if you are the shipper and who is the “they” in “they haven’t yet issued us the b/l”.. If you are not the shipper and you are the consignee and expecting the bill of lading, then you should put pressure on your shipper who is supposed to collect the bill of lading..

      The shipping line completes their manifestation process say within 72-96 hours after sailing of the vessel and if after that there are any changes to the manifest details, then they will charge you fees for making the amendments.. It is a valid practice..

  71. Mark Buchholz says:

    Hello “Shipping and Freight Resource”,
    Hello David,

    thank very much for the quick responce.

    Okay I understand, you are all saying that I should make the booking of the carrier. But that is not so easy to negotiate. The buyer wants the container FOB China and would like to use his own carrier, He gets better prices, because the buyer makes much much more containers each year compare to us.

    A few more questions and thanks again for your help. 🙂

    1. When I am selling a container FOB, I thought that my buyer must book the carrier. Isn´t that the senses of FOB? Free on bord and than shipping on the buyer´s risk? But when I book the carrier, I think that I am going delivering all the way to europe. Isn´t that right??? (maybe a I am wrong)

    2. In case I sell the container FOB China and I am booking the carrier, how is my name coming into the BL. The factory is delivering the container to the port in China to my choice of carrier. What is the carrier doing with the old BL? How is my name coming into the BL?

    3. Is there a way that the buyer is booking the carrier, the factory is delivering to this carrier, but still there will be only my name in the BL?
    (I am the reseller (shipper) not the producer (exporter))

    I send normaly container from China straight to my warehouse, but know there is a bigger customer who wants the container shipped to him. A good think, but I must be carefull of the adress of the chinise factory. But I would love to deliver the container only to the habour and than it is done for me…

    Thanks for the help 🙂

    1. Hi Mark, trust below explanation clarifies your queries..

      1) You are a trader buying goods from China and selling to a buyer in Europe
      2) You dont want your buyer to know who your supplier is
      3) Your buyer wants to buy FOB China and wants you to use his carrier

      As i mentioned earlier, this shouldn’t be a problem as this is done by all major traders around the world.. Your contract with your customer in Europe can be FOB Shanghai (for example) which means your responsibility is only to get the container on board the vsl at Shanghai.. From there, it will be the responsibility of your buyer..

      You maybe using the carrier nominated by your buyer, but that has no bearing on the bill of lading instructions that you will be giving to the carrier for the preparation of the bill of lading.. You can still be shown as the Shipper in the bill of lading.. The actual exporter will be shown in the customs documentation that will be passed in Shanghai before export.. That is the only place where your suppliers name will be shown.. But on the bill of lading itself, your name can be shown as Shipper..

      IF however, your shipment is covered under an L/C and the L/C stipulates the details to be shown on the bill of lading, then that’s a different story..

  72. David says:

    Hi Mark,
    you have mentioned it’s under FOB. I would insist on your own carrier choice with whom you can arrange smoothly switch B/L.

  73. Mark Buchholz says:

    Hi there, I need some help please.
    I am based in europe. I would like to sell a container of goods FOB from a port in China to a other company in europe. The buyer is going to use his carrier. It is important to me, that the buyer do not see the name of the factory in china an the BL or where ever. How is the switch BL in my case working? I am not useing the carrier of my choice. So how could issue a Switch BL? Thanks for the answers…

    1. Hi Mark, it would depend on who makes the booking with the carrier and handles the shipment and submits documentation to the shipping line.. Is it going to be you or the buyer..?? If you are making the booking with the carrier, you can simply show the shipper on the bill of lading as yourself.. Remember, there is a difference between the actual exporter and the shipper (http://shippingandfreightresource.com/2010/03/16/what-is-the-difference-between-an-exporter-and-a-shipper).. So the buyer will not know who the actual exporter is from the bill of lading..

  74. Hardik says:

    It’s really Useful Article for the Intermediaries, I am Currently sending one Air shipment from China to S.A and i m based in India. I have choosed the Switch BL option to avoid the disclosure of the Seller to my End buyer.

    I want to ask a questions ” Is it like the Chinese company send the goods on Airport and the 1st Set of BL issued to the shipping company in china and only after that they canrequest to switch Bl with my company information ?????????????

    Hope to receive the earliest reply !! Regards !!

  75. Afam says:

    @ Bala, i’m tempted to doubt your story because a shipping company would know the tare weight of her containers. If by the time the containers are returned for boarding and they remain the same weight it then means that the net weight is missing. Therefore the gross weight which is usually written on the BL can not be arrived at, Hope you get my logic. Let me know your response please. I’m interested

  76. Daisy says:

    Can I do a switch b/l with 2 different consignee names for 1 container in Sin ?

  77. Stan says:

    David, so am I 🙂 just change of shipper, consignee or notify.
    Bala, I don’t understand how it could happen in your case. Could you pls highlight the details?

  78. conrado says:

    I have had experience on switch b/l. becarefull with the IMO CARGO and Switch b/l. There some shipping line that refuse to emit a switch under dangereus merchandise . I recomend, first of all, to contact with the shipping line before…. !!!

  79. Bala says:

    My below experience will reinforce what has been said about SBL.
    Too make a long story short , 7 x 40 STC ROAD COLLIERS ,. and the b/l was switched , with a new POD , COMM DESCRIPTION , etc, while the seal remained intact , upon reaching new POD , all 7 x 40 was found to be empty. !!

    1. Manaadiar says:

      One of many Bala, one of many, thanks for sharing.. 🙂

  80. Kate says:

    I feel, Switch BL is a “Must” for trading companies/intermediaries, who work to get business and are very often sidelined, as soon as the buyer finds the real manufacturer or vice-versa. Carriers and insurance companies, however, need to work together to create a mechanism to ensure that traders can protect their real source (Especially in 3rd country trade) in a manner which is safe for all parties involved.

  81. David says:

    Often done by myself (container line agent) but just change of shipper, consignee or notify. Customers intend to cover up their sources against ultimate consignee.

    1. Harsh says:

      Hello my quation is my comapny singapore and my supplyer dubai besad .. and he direact book contener india … supplyer sales contratct with singapore comapny .. india comapy purches contract with singapore comapny …. howe to swith b/l what is other way … we wating reply

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