What is a telex release..??

You may have heard the term Telex Release several times in your day to day work especially in container shipping..

But what is a telex release..

In some instances a shipper or exporter may surrender one or all of the original bills of lading that have been issued to them at the load port..

Based on this surrender, they will instruct the load port agent to advise the discharge port agent that the cargo covered under the surrendered bills of lading may be released to the consignee shown on the bill of lading without presentation of any original bills of lading..

A telex release is simply a message conveying this instruction from the load port agent to the discharge port agent..

The shipper or exporter would request a telex release under below circumstances :

  1. the consignee at destination is a counterpart office of the shipper – example – if say DHL Global Forwarding is the shipper shown on the bill of lading and they are consigning some cargo to their office overseas, as there is no negotiation involved, they don’t require an original bill of lading at destination
  2. the shipper did not process his documentation in time and the ship that is carrying his cargo has already reached or reaching the destination and the original bills will not reach the consignee in time for them to clear before the expiry of free days
  3. some cases, an NVOCC operator might request for a telex release from the line so that they can issue their house bill of lading to their customer

Many of the shippers/exporters that follow the principle of No.1 above use “Express Release” instead of a Telex Release..

Yes there is a difference between Telex Release and Express Release..

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Technically a Telex Release can only be actioned when the bill of lading is issued as a Straight Bill of Lading and not as a Negotiable/Order Bill or Sea Waybill..

However, there are some lines that allow telex release on Negotiable/Order Bill of Lading based on surrender of the full set of Original Bills of Lading after verifying the endorsements on the bill of lading..

But why the name Telex Release..??

What is a Telex Release

Image credit : http://www.samhallas.co.uk/museums/henlow/07b_creed_444.jpg

The name TELEX is the acronym for TELegraph EXchange service..

The machine shown in the picture is a Telex Machine, which is a teleprinter which can send and receive text based messages using the telegraph service..

A message sent using the Telex machine is known as a Telex message..

A telex service could be used for real time one-on-one communication with someone on the other side of the world, or could be used to send a previously drafted message..

Telex was one of the most popular methods for communicating with ships while at sea and maybe considered as the precursor to email communication..

The release instruction from the POL to POD is called a Telex Release because in the past, such release instructions to the discharge port used to be sent using a Telex Machine..

In its heydays, a Telex machine was used to transmit more than just cargo release instructions.. Many people (like myself) may remember having used a telex machine for the transmission of regular messages to the ships, preparing and sending reports before, during and after a ship’s operation (Example : Arrival reports, Container Load Lists, Cargo operations progress reports, and TDRs (Terminal Departure Reports))..

Although nowadays such OBL surrender information and release instructions are sent by email or updated in the shipping line’s online system, the name telex release stuck due to the long period that the telex machine was used for such purposes and the quick communication that was possible using Telex..

Fascinating isn’t it.. 🙂

This post was originally published in 2010 and republished now with some updated content..

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60 comments on “What is a telex release..??”

  1. By Pim Reply

    Good day, Is it possible to ask tlx release if surrender 3/3 original of negotiable b/l( To order) with shipper endorsement and written letter request release cago to another one who not being on b/l? Pls suggest.tks

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      If the bill is TO ORDER and the shipper has endorsed the bill, you can surrender all 3 bills to the POL agent and ask them to advise their POD agent to release cargo to the party endorsed by the shipper.. However, each line may have their own policy which pls check..

  2. By beqa Reply

    Dear Mr. Hareish,

    Great article. I want to ask you about this kind of case. We have a supplier of the goods(also shipper and exporter), freight forwarder in exporter’s country, freight forwarder in importer’s country and a buyer. Assume everything was settled, container is shipped and on it’s way. Forwarder in importer’s country paid invoice sent by Freight forwarder in exporter’s country. After that Forwarder’s in exporter’s country disappeared, they won’t take phone or answer mails(let’s say it was a fraud). Meanwhile container arrives, but is not released. Can this kind of problem be solved?

    • By beqa

      Thank you for the reply Mr Hariesh. What I am interested in is in this case can Forwarder in importer’s country somehow take container for example if he explains situation to shipping line and pays the cost of freight.

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hi Beqa, shipping line/their agent will and should always follow the right documentation procedure when it comes to releasing goods and cannot just follow an “explanation”.. Proper documentary process must be followed..

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hi Harold, the line/their agent at destination should also have received the telex release instruction.. They should be able to release the cargo.. Have they mentioned any problem..??

  3. By Jorge Romero Reply

    Buyer has made all the payments needed for FOB dispatch. Is it possible that the seller use telex release and also send the originals of HBL by parcel shippment?

  4. By henri joel NDOUA Reply

    is it possible to send TLR went the OBL is received for shipment .
    shipment is ready , full on the terminal awaiting vessel .

  5. By rasheed muraina Reply

    I am about to receive a car in Lagos nigeria, I have paid $25 for telex release in new york to grimaldi. Do I. Still need to pay for telex release in lagos? My clearing agent is trying to make. Me believe that i still have to pay for it in lagos.

    • By Sally Tseng

      Who should pay for telex release fee based on FOB terms? Normally it is paid by exporter/seller at POL but I am confused telex release is required before or after on-board date.

  6. By zolkefli salleh Reply

    I need to know i m an importer..is there any document or notice verification letter priorv to telex release.
    I paid 50% deposit for my goods ..the bal the exporter want to telex release the good but i need to pay in full….
    I dont hv any document to hold as i will bepaying the exporter and without anything to hold on.pls advice

  7. By Shunba Pillay Reply

    Thank you for your explanation. If the shipper and consignee has agreed on a Telex released house bill of lading, but the forwarders charges are outstanding, is the forwarder still obligated to issue the Telex release? After all, the house bill should also protect the forwarder in instances like this?. Please advise. Thank you.

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Irrespective of agreement between shipper and consignee, whoever has issued the bill of lading, whether line or forwarder, will issue telex release only once all their charges has been settled.. No one will release bill of lading without collecting all their payments..

  8. By Chase Walters Reply

    Beginning importer here… Is the Bill of Lading sent physically or can it be emailed?

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hello Chase, that would depend on whether it is issued as a Negotiable/To Order Bill of if it is issued as a Seaway Bill.. If Negotiable/To Order Bill, it is required physically at POD.. If it is Seaway Bill, you can email copy.. Why don’t you download my Beginners Guide to Importing links to which you can find on the site..

  9. By hassan Reply

    Dear Mr Hariesh
    if the shipment is back to back shipment ,has mbl & Hbl
    and there is no time to courier hb/l to client so what is solution

    is there case such as telex release for hb/l ?
    also the b/l issue at port of loading only or can issue at port of discharge ?



  10. By Andrew Pike Reply

    There was a time in my life (giving my age away) when almost all communications between lawyers were by way of telex, at least, that was the practice in London when I worked there. The language used was often abbreviated to save on space and cost (like telegrams). If you have ever communicated with Mr Peter Newton of Seaboard in Cape Town, although he uses email his language is still telex-speak e.g. “XXXX is …. xxxxxxx biz …. … strge n ctr packing operation …… some yrs ago b4 ” (Details redacted to protect confidentiality of the communication.)

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Tks dr, ys I hv been using tlx msg txt for many yrs like am doing now.. Only a few cud u/stand the abbreviations.. But we did well.. 🙂

  11. By Leonardo Lembo BPI A/S Reply

    Great article Hariesh! One question, isnt the sea waybill the same as express release?

  12. By Colin Reply

    Excellent Article. Nowadays a few carriers use the words “electronic release” instead of telex release.

  13. By Siaw Seng Siong Reply

    I received 3 original copies of Bill of Lading from shipping agent, and I courier 2 of them to the consignee. Unfortunately, consignee misplace the two original Bill of Lading.
    Can I surrender the only one original Bill of Lading, in my hand, to the shipping agent at loading port and ask for the telex release?

    • By Nirmala Dhanapal

      Hi Siaw, There are some procedures you need to follow with shipping agent. First inform to them that you customer were missed the OBL’s. I hope that shipping agent will require Written letter from customer to issue new Original bills or to accept Telex Release and might be penalty will involved. Shipping agency HO will involve and advise you for more info. Hope you understand.

    • By Siaw Seng Siong

      Hello Nirmala Dhanapal,
      Thank you and from what I understand, should any one of the three original Bill of Lading surrendered to the shipping agent, the balance of two is considered void.
      Therefore, the shipping agent at port of loading should able to do a telex release when receiving one original Bill of Lading from me.

    • By RAJ

      No you can’t shipping line will ask all three original bills of lading..

  14. By Ahmed Reply

    hello, I`m as a consignee and there are two parties with me (shipper and the shipping line) can you tell me which way is better? telex release or release by presenting the original Bill, and which one does cost price than the other according to the consignee

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hello Ahmed, sorry I am not clear what you mean by there are two parties with me.. Telex release is also a release by presenting the original bill of lading although you might be surrendering the original bill at the load port at another port.. Telex Release issuance attracts an additional cost as the shipping line will charge you for receiving the original bill of lading and doing the administrative work of sending a release to the discharge port to release the cargo..

    • By Nirmala Dhanapal

      Hi Ahmed, I would suggest telex Release is good option. However, check with your shipping line whether Telex charges are applicable or not. If no charge, then surrender the originals at Origin and get confirmation mail from Origin Agency.

  15. By ahmed Reply

    Hi, I need some information. I am being told that Telex release could not be done on Master bill of lading it is on applicable on House bill of lading. Kindly clarify is it right info. Need ur kind response

  16. By Varun Reply

    Its possible… But usually Line will collect the original BL which they issued earlier before releasing the Telex release.

    If the customer genuine and trustworthy no problem.. else collect original before u issuing telex to be in safe side.

  17. By Saeed Ahmad Reply

    I am exporter; If I have got 100% advance payment from buyer then is their any risk to do Express release?

  18. By Lucia Reply

    What is the recourse if the shipping company does not send a telex release, when you have paid them in full for shipping. who is responsible for storage fees at destination if the freight company delays with telex release

  19. By Hariesh Manaadiar Reply

    Hi Muhammad, once OBL has been taken and couriered then its not possible to issue a Telex Release.. In order to secure a Telex Release you have to surrender all original bills of lading that have been issued..

    • By Varun

      telex release usually done upon payment, once the payment done to line at load port.. they will send telex msg to their dest agent.. Yon can also ask copy of surrender msg fyr.

  20. By olatunji Reply

    Can you explain the meaning of “letter of credit,bill of collection, and how do they process it in shipping documentation

  21. By jack Reply

    guys i have some question to be clear.
    1.why bank are involved in this.
    2.what is freight collect on master bill of leading.
    3.what is freight prepaid on house bill of leading.
    Please clear it out i am confuse in this..

  22. By Jaspreet Singh Wadhwa Reply

    Thanks for above information
    I have few queries regarding this

    1. For this telex service is shipping line charging some extra charges to Shipper or Consignee
    2. (not a bank or To Order)..may i know why this provision is there

    • By Manaadiar

      Hi Jaspreet, you are welcome.. To answer your questions above..

      1) Yes the lines charge to arrange a telex release.. They charge this as this is an extra administrative function for them as someone has to actually do this job..

      2) This provision like “To Order” is there because each contract has its own peculiarities and requirements and it is very important to show who must receive the cargo on the bill of lading.. You can also refer to my previous article on this to learn more about why this provision is there.. https://shippingandfreightresource.com/2008/11/17/duly-discharged-bills-of-lading-the-great-debate/

  23. By Jackie Naidoo Reply

    Dear Hariesh,
    Bills made out ‘to order’ can be telex released or the new term ‘e-mail release, provided the S/ has endorsed the full set of original Bills of Lading.

    • By Harcourt

      Can a shipper stop the telex release after ordering the telex release for any reason ? and if yes what are the consequences.

    • By Varun

      Hi Albert,
      Advantage:- If ur shipment moves to short transit destination and you dont agree any free days from line at destination… In this case ur consignee has to take DO on or b4 the date of arrival of container box and return the box at earliest to avoid heavy demurrage and detention charges at destination. For this telex release highly useful
      Believe there is no disadvantages in express release

    • By Hariesh Manaadiar

      Hi Varun, I wouldn’t say that there are no disadvantages with an Express Release.. Each bill of lading should be issued basis the requirement of the shipper, consignee and depending on the trade and the sale agreement, so we cannot say one bill is more advantageous than the other.. We could say that one type of bill of lading will be more suitable than the other for a particular shipment..