What is an Air Waybill (AWB)?
Also known as air consignment note, an air waybill (AWB) is a type of bill of lading, which accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier or air freight service to provide details and additional information about the shipment and allow it to be tracked. The bill is copied multiple times, so that each party involved in the shipment process can acquire and document it. An air waybill serves a similar role to other forms of bill of lading, like ocean bills of lading, however, air waybill is issued in a non-negotiable form. This means that there is less protection with an air waybill, versus negotiable bills of lading.
Additionally, an air waybill serves as a receipt of goods by an airline carrier. It also serves as a contract of carriage between a shipper or seller, and the carrier. An air waybill is a legal document, which becomes enforceable by law after both parties (the shipper or shipper's agent, and the carrier or carrier’s agent) sign the document.
What is included in an air waybill document?
The air waybill also contains the following information:
Names and addresses: both the shipper and the consignee must provide their full names and addresses.
3-letter airport codes: The airport codes of both the origin and destination must be provided. (Example: LAX→ MCO)
Shipment Value: Documentation regarding the total estimated value of the shipment must be provided for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to see.
Description of Items Being Shipped: In this field, the shipper typically notes the number of shipping units, the weight and other dimensions of the freight, along with information on what material is used in the freight and its makeup.
Special Instructions: In this field, the shipper provides or notes extra caring or handling information and instructions. However, this is not where you specify extra service requests like delivery notification or a lift-gate. (Example: Perishable)