Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Waybill

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Waybill

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Waybill

A waybill is a document that acts like a receipt for a shipment of goods. It is issued by a carrier, such as a trucking company

What Is A Waybill?

A waybill is a document that acts like a receipt for a shipment of goods. It is issued by a carrier, such as a trucking company or freight forwarder and contains details about the shipment.

It is a record that travels with the goods throughout the shipping journey. Different waybill variations are used depending on situations like blanket waybills for multiple shipments or astray waybills for shipments separated from their documentation.

How Does A Waybill Differ From A Bill Of Lading (B/L)?

While both waybills and bills of lading (B/L) are important documents in the shipping world, they serve distinct purposes:


  • Waybill: Primarily a receipt and record of a shipment. It acknowledges the carrier has received the goods and outlines the shipping details.
  • Bill Of Lading: Establishes a legal agreement between the shipper, carrier, and receiver. More importantly, it functions as a document of title. Possession of the original B/L is typically required to claim ownership of the goods.


  • Waybill: Non-negotiable. A company can’t use it to transfer ownership of the goods.
  • Bill Of Lading: Negotiable (depending on the type). This means it can be endorsed and transferred to another party, transferring ownership of the goods.

Transfer Of Ownership

  • Waybill: Doesn’t facilitate ownership transfer.
  • Bill Of Lading: Essential for ownership transfer in many scenarios, especially when using letters of credit for international transactions.

Security And Formalities

  • Waybill: Less formal and secure. It is often issued electronically and doesn’t require the same verification level as a bill of lading.
  • Bill Of Lading: This is a more formal and secure document. Often issued as an original paper copy to ensure authenticity and prevent fraud.

Use Cases

  • Waybill: Ideal for domestic shipments between trusted parties where ownership transfer isn’t a concern. This is a faster and simpler process compared to a bill of lading.
  • Bill Of Lading: The preferred choice for international shipments, high-value goods, or situations where ownership needs to be transferred during transit.

What Typical Information Does A Waybill Contain? 

A waybill is a vital piece of information for a shipment, and it contains details relevant to all parties involved, such as:

Parties Involved

  • Shipper (Consignor): Name and contact information of the party sending the goods.
  • Carrier: Name and contact information of the company transporting the goods.
  • Consignee: Name and contact information of the party receiving the goods.

Shipment Details

  • Waybill Number: Unique identifier for tracking the shipment.
  • Origin: Address where the shipment began its journey.
  • Destination: Address where the shipment is intended to be delivered.
  • Route: Planned path the shipment will take (may be unavailable on all waybills).
  • Date: Date the shipment was received by the carrier.

Goods Description

  • Number Of Packages: Total number of individual packages or units within the shipment.
  • Description Of Goods: Clear and detailed description of the shipment’s contents, including quantity, weight, dimensions, and nature of the goods (clothing, electronics, machinery, etc).
  • Packaging Type: How the goods are packaged (boxes, pallets, crates, etc).

Additional Information

  • Special Instructions: Any specific handling instructions for the carrier.
  • Declared Value: The value of the shipped goods.
  • Payment Information: Details on how the shipping costs will be settled (prepaid or cash on delivery).
  • Terms And Conditions: This may outline the carrier’s liability limitations and other relevant terms for the transport agreement.

What Is The Primary Function Of A Waybill In The Shipping Process?

The primary function of a waybill in the shipping process is to act as a comprehensive record that travels with the goods. It also…

  • Provides Shipment Details: The waybill documents crucial information about the shipment, including the shipper, receiver, origin, destination, route (in some cases), and the goods themselves (description, quantity, weight, packaging). This ensures everyone involved has a clear understanding of what’s being shipped and where it’s going.
  • Facilitates Tracking: The waybill typically includes a unique identifier, like a waybill number. This allows all parties involved (shipper, carrier, receiver) to track the shipment’s progress throughout its journey.
  • Serves As A Receipt: The waybill acts as a receipt confirming the carrier has taken possession of the goods from the shipper. It establishes a record of the shipment’s condition at pick-up time.

In What Situations Might A Waybill Be Used Instead Of A B/L?

A waybill is generally used instead of a bill of lading in situations where there’s a simpler and more trusting environment for the shipment. The following are some scenarios where a waybill might be preferred:

  • Trusted Parties: A waybill might suffice when the shipper and consignee have a well-established relationship and high trust. Since it is a non-negotiable document, it is less crucial for ownership transfer concerns.
  • Domestic Shipments: A waybill can be a faster and easier option for domestic shipments within the same country than the formalities involved with a B/L. There is generally less risk of fraud or disputes in domestic transactions.
  • Low-Value Goods: A waybill’s simpler documentation process might be preferred for low-value goods with minimal risk of loss or damage.
  • Faster Processing: Because waybills are less formal and often issued electronically, they can expedite shipping than the B/L’s stricter requirements.

Are There Any Advantages Or Disadvantages To Using A Waybill Compared To A B/L?

The choice between a waybill and a B/L depends on the specific needs of the shipment, however, there are certain advantages and disadvantages the documents have over one another:

Advantages Of Waybill Vs. Bill Of Lading 

  • Simpler And Faster: Waybills are generally less complex than B/Ls. They’re often issued electronically and require less verification, making the shipping process faster and more efficient.
  • Cost-Effective: Since waybills are less formal, they are typically cheaper than B/Ls. This can be a significant advantage for low-value domestic shipments.
  • Suitable For Trusted Parties: For established businesses with a trusting relationship, a waybill can be sufficient for domestic transactions where ownership transfer isn’t a concern.

Disadvantages Of Waybill Vs. Bill Of Lading

  • Not Negotiable: Unlike a B/L (depending on the type), a waybill cannot be used to transfer ownership of the goods to a third party. This limits its usefulness in international trade.
  • Lower Security: Waybills are generally less secure than B/Ls. They don’t offer the same level of legal recourse in case of disputes or issues during transport.
  • Limited Tracking: While waybills often have tracking numbers, they might not provide the same detailed tracking information as some B/Ls.