Non- Negotiable – Way Bill

As reflected in the name, AWB is a Waybill and it is considered as a non-negotiable transport document. It cannot be considered as deed and cannot be negotiated, unlike a “Bill of Lading”. It is though, may be considered as a proof of ownership but cannot be used for transfer of ownership of the goods mentioned on the AWB.  It does mean that the AWB cannot be consigned as “To Order”. (Ref IATA TACT Rules 6.6.d)


A bill of lading, may transfer ownership of the goods and can be issued on “To Order” basis and must be endorsed by the parties involved for transfer of ownership.


Although the AWB is a non-negotiable document, it can be used for shipment under “Letter of Credit – LC” basis. Shipper can present the Shipper’s copy of AWB, which is issued based on the terms of LC, to the intermediate bank with the invoice, packing list and other documents needed as per LC term, and receive the money of merchandize from intermediate Bank. This amount paid by the Intermediate Bank will be billed to the Consignee’s Bank (issuing bank) who provided the credit for consignee. 


The AWB are consigned directly to the issuing bank who opened the letter of credit. The importer can obtain the goods (Delivery Order) from the carrier at destination which is endorsed to the name of issuing bank. The Bank will then receive the billed amount of goods along with other charges from consignee and endorse the Delivery Order of the carrier to the name of consignee. Consignee may then refer to the customs to clear the goods.


One of the reasons that an AWB is a non-negotiable document is the fact that the speed of carriage of cargo by Air is much more than transport through Sea or Land. This way the cargo may have arrived to destination while the documents of the shipment still remained in Shipper’s custody waiting for a courier company to send it to destination, for consignee. This will result in high storage charges at destination while waiting for the original AWB to receive by consignee. That is why the “Consignee Copy” of the AWB is being sent to destination by Carrier along with the shipment and delivery order of the shipment will be released to consignee along with the Original Consignee page of the AWB.