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Difference Between the Original Bill of Shipment and Express Release


In the realm of international logistics, understanding the nuances of documentation is crucial for smooth operations and compliance. Two key terms that often arise in this context are the “Original Bill of Shipment” and “Express Release.” Both play pivotal roles in facilitating the movement of goods across borders, yet they serve distinct purposes and cater to different logistical needs.

Original bill of shipment

The Original Bill of Shipment, commonly referred to as the Bill of Lading (B/L), is a fundamental document in international shipping. It serves as a receipt for the goods shipped, a contract of carriage, and a document of title. Essentially, it represents ownership of the goods and is used to claim them at the destination port.

Legal documents: The B/L is a legally binding document that is issued by the carrier of its agent to the shipper. It explains the transportation contract, including details about the sender, receiver, type of goods, and shipping route.

Title of goods: One of the critical aspects of the B/L is its function as a title document. Possession of the original B/L is typically required for the consignee to take possession of the goods at the destination port. This makes it a valuable document in trade transactions, especially in terms of payment and ownership transfer.

Importance in customs clearance: Customs authorities often require the original B/L to verify the consignment’s legitimacy and to assess duties and taxes. It acts as proof that the goods being imported are indeed the same as those specified in the shipping documents.

Express release

On the other hand, Express Release provides an alternative approach to the traditional handling of B/Ls, particularly in scenarios where efficiency and speed are prioritized over the physical possession of original documents.

Digital transmission: Unlike the Original Bill of Shipment, which involves the physical exchange of paper documents, Express Release operates in a digital realm. It signifies that the carrier has released the cargo to the consignee without requiring the presentation of the original B/L.

Advantages: Express Release simplifies and accelerates the release process, especially in cases where physical transfer of documents could cause delays or logistical challenges. It is particularly useful in modern supply chains where rapid movement and responsiveness are critical.

Limitations: Despite its advantages, Express Release may not be suitable for all shipments. Certain jurisdictions or trade practices may still require original documents for legal or regulatory reasons. Additionally, the absence of physical documents could pose risks related to fraud or disputes over ownership.

Choosing Between Original Bill of Shipment and Express Release

The choice between using an Original Bill of Shipment or opting for Express Release depends on various factors:

Nature of Goods: High-value or sensitive goods may necessitate the security and legal certainty provided by the Original Bill of Shipment.

Trade Practices: Certain trade routes or customs authorities may have specific requirements regarding document handling, influencing the choice between traditional and expedited release methods.

Logistical Considerations: Urgency, reliability of digital systems, and operational efficiency all play roles in determining whether Express Release is a viable option.

As global trade continues to evolve, so too will the methods and technologies used to manage shipping documentation. Logistics providers can provide a seamless experience for their clients by staying informed and adaptable. This helps ensure that goods are moved quickly and securely across borders.

ICS Global Logistics, is a top provider of international shipping solutions, showing their dedication to excellence in global trade facilitation.