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5 Things to Know about Airway bill of imports 

#1 What exactly is an Air Waybill (AWB) of imports?

The Air Waybill (AWB) of imports holds significant importance in air freight transportation, functioning as a formal contract between the shipper (exporter) and the airfreight carrier. In the context of imports, the AWB is initiated by the exporting party and received by the importing entity.

Key facets of an Air Waybill for imports include:

  1. Contractual Arrangement: The AWB functions as a formal agreement delineating the terms and conditions of carriage between the shipper and the carrier.

  1. Acknowledgment of Receipt: It is tangible proof that the carrier has officially received the specified goods for air transportation.

  1. Comprehensive Details: The document encapsulates information regarding the transported goods, encompassing their characteristics, quantity, and weight, facilitating proper identification and handling.

  1. Routing Guidance: Essential details about the intended route, encompassing departure and arrival airports, are outlined in the AWB.

  1. Shipping Directives: The document may incorporate specific instructions for cargo handling, such as special storage requirements or nuanced delivery instructions.

  1. Unique Identification: Each AWB is assigned a distinct number, facilitating seamless tracking and tracing of the shipment throughout its transit.

  1. Non-Negotiable Nature: Unlike a negotiable Bill of Lading in sea freight, the AWB is a non-negotiable document. This implies that it only serves as a document of title, allowing goods to be released to the consignee with the physical presentation of the AWB.

  1. Customs Significance: The AWB plays a pivotal role in customs clearance, providing pertinent information to customs authorities to process imported goods.

#2 Why do you need an airway bill of imports? 

The Air Waybill (AWB)  of imports assumes a crucial role in the importation process for several compelling reasons:

  1. Formal Contractual Arrangement: Operating as an official agreement, the AWB establishes a formal contract between the shipper (exporter) and the airfreight carrier. It meticulously delineates the terms and conditions governing transportation, fostering a transparent understanding of the responsibilities and commitments of both parties.

  1. Confirmation of Goods Receipt: Serving as tangible proof, the AWB verifies that the carrier has received the designated goods for transport. This confirmation holds paramount importance for the systematic tracking and tracing of the shipment throughout its entire journey.

  1. Customs Regulatory Compliance: Functioning as a critical document for customs authorities, the Air Waybill furnishes comprehensive information about imported goods. This detailed data assists customs officials in evaluating and clearing the shipment in strict accordance with relevant regulations.

  1. Cargo Identification: Crucial details about the nature, quantity, and weight of the goods are encapsulated in the AWB. This information is indispensable for the accurate identification and proper handling of the cargo during its transit.

  1. Routing Guidance: The document contains essential information about the intended route of the cargo, including details about departure and arrival airports. This aids in the strategic planning and efficient execution of the transportation process.

  1. Shipping Instructions: The AWB may integrate specific instructions from the shipper concerning cargo handling. This could encompass special storage requirements or explicit delivery instructions, contributing to the meticulous execution of the transportation plan.

  1. Tracking and Tracing Convenience: Each AWB is assigned a unique number, facilitating seamless tracking and tracing of the shipment. 

  1. Non-Negotiable Character: Differing from a Bill of Lading in sea freight, the AWB, while not constituting a document of title, bestows the right to the consignee to claim the goods upon arrival. 

#3 What are the different types of Airway bills of imports?

In the realm of air freight transportation for imports, there are two primary categories of Air Waybills (AWBs): the Master Air Waybill (MAWB) and the House Air Waybill (HAWB).

Master Air Waybill (MAWB):

  • Issuing Authority: The MAWB is issued by the principal airfreight carrier, typically the airline, to either the freight forwarder or the shipper.
  • Coverage: It encompasses the entirety of the shipment, including various House Air Waybills (HAWBs) linked to diverse consignees or destinations.
  • Responsibility: The primary carrier takes on the obligation for the complete shipment until it reaches its ultimate destination.

House Air Waybill (HAWB):

  • Issuing Authority: The HAWB is issued by the freight forwarder to either the shipper or the consignee.
  • Coverage: It specifically pertains to a distinct portion of the cargo or a single consignment within the overall shipment covered by the Master Air Waybill.
  • Responsibility: The freight forwarder takes on the responsibility for the segment of the shipment outlined in the House Air Waybill.

#4 Is an Air Waybill of imports the same as a Bill of Lading? 

An Air Waybill (AWB) for imports differs from a Bill of Lading (BOL), as these documents fulfill distinct purposes and are associated with different modes of transportation.

Air Waybill (AWB):

  • Mode of Transportation: Utilized in air freight transportation.
  • Issued by: Typically issued by the airfreight carrier or a freight forwarder.
  • Nature: Functions as a receipt for the goods and a contract of carriage between the shipper and the airfreight carrier.
  • Title: The AWB is not a document of title; it does not confer ownership of the goods. Its primary use is for tracking and tracing during air transport.
  • Transfer of Goods: Goods can be released without presenting the physical AWB.

Bill of Lading (BOL):

  • Mode of Transportation: Employed in sea or ocean freight transportation.
  • Issued by: Typically issued by the carrier (shipping line) or a freight forwarder.
  • Nature: Acts as a receipt for the goods, evidence of the contract of carriage, and a document of title.
  • Title: The BOL is a negotiable document of title, allowing its transfer to another party, enabling them to claim the goods.
  • Transfer of Goods: Transfer of the BOL is often necessary for the release of goods at the destination port.

#5 How can you conduct remittances with Airway bill of imports?

Outward remittances from India associated with an Air Waybill (AWB) for imports encompass diverse elements, and the obligation for these payments is subject to the terms established between the involved parties. Here is an overview of the standard considerations related to payments on an AWB for imports:

Airfreight Charges:

  • Payer: The consignee (importer) typically bears the responsibility for airfreight charges, unless stipulated otherwise in the terms of sale (Incoterms). In specific instances, the shipper (exporter) might prepay the freight charges.

Customs Duties and Taxes:

  • Payer: Import duties, taxes, and other fees related to customs are generally the consignee's responsibility. 

Handling and Clearance Fees:

  • Payer: Handling fees and customs clearance charges are often the consignee's responsibility. These fees may be linked to services provided by customs brokers, freight forwarders, and other entities involved in the clearance process.

Freight Forwarder Fees:

  • Payer: In cases where a freight forwarder is engaged, the consignee may be required to make payments for services such as cargo consolidation, documentation, and customs clearance.

Payment Terms:

  • Credit Terms: The terms of payment are typically outlined in the sales contract between the buyer and the seller. Common terms include "payment in advance," "payment upon receipt," or "letter of credit," influencing when the consignee must fulfill the financial obligations.

Payment Methods:

  • Methods: Various payment methods, such as wire transfers, letters of credit, credit cards, or mutually agreed-upon means, may be employed. The chosen method often aligns with the terms established in the contract.

Document Release:

  • Release Upon Payment: In specific scenarios, the release of the AWB and other crucial documents may be contingent upon the consignee's settlement of the specified charges.

FAQ on Airway bill of imports 

What is the air waybill for customs?

The Air Waybill (AWB) is a critical document in customs processes for international air freight. It provides essential information about the shipped goods, facilitating the customs clearance process. Here are key elements of an Air Waybill for customs:

  • Identification and Description of Goods:  The AWB contains detailed information about the characteristics of the transported goods, including descriptions, quantities, weight, and other pertinent details necessary for customs classification.
  • Consignor and Consignee Details: Information about the shipper (consignor) and the recipient (consignee) is included in the document. Customs rules use these details to identify the parties involved in the transaction.
  • Declared Value: The AWB specifies the declared value of the goods, which is crucial for customs authorities to assess duties and taxes based on the stated value of the cargo.
  • Freight Charges and Payment Terms: Information about airfreight charges and payment terms may be included in the AWB. Customs authorities consider these details to verify that the appropriate charges have been paid.
  • Handling and Special Instructions: The AWB may contain handling instructions and any special directives from the shipper. Customs officials take note of these instructions to ensure proper handling and compliance with specific requirements.
  • AWB Number: Each Air Waybill is assigned a unique number, which is vital for tracking and tracing the shipment. This number is utilized by customs for monitoring the goods in transit.
  • Signatures and Certifications: Signatures and certifications from the shipper, carrier, and other relevant parties may be present in the AWB. These signatures authenticate the information provided in the document.

1. How can I get air waybill?

To obtain an Air Waybill (AWB), you can follow a process that typically involves engaging with an airfreight carrier or a freight forwarder. Here are the general steps:

Choose an Airfreight Carrier or Freight Forwarder: Contact an airfreight carrier (such as an airline) directly or engage the services of a freight forwarder, which can provide comprehensive logistics support, including document preparation like the AWB.

Provide Shipment Details: Furnish detailed information about your shipment, including specifics about the goods, quantity, weight, dimensions, and details of the consignor (shipper) and consignee (recipient).

Receive the Air Waybill: Upon providing the necessary information and agreeing to terms, the airfreight carrier or freight forwarder will generate the Air Waybill. 

Payment of Freight Charges: If airfreight and other remittance charges are not prepaid, make arrangements for the payment by the agreed-upon terms.

Distribution of Copies: The Air Waybill typically has multiple copies. Distribute these copies to relevant parties, including the consignor, consignee, carrier, and any other stakeholders involved in the transportation process.

Use in Customs Clearance: The Air Waybill is a crucial document for customs clearance. Provide the AWB to customs authorities in both the departure and destination countries as part of the import/export process.

2. Is the air waybill the same as the invoice?

The Air Waybill (AWB) and the invoice are distinct documents, each fulfilling a unique role in the realm of international trade and transportation.

Air Waybill (AWB):

The Air Waybill, issued by the airfreight carrier (airline) or a freight forwarder, functions as a transport document.

Serving as a receipt for air-shipped goods, the AWB contains essential information, including details about the nature of the goods, quantity, weight, shipper's and consignee's information, and transportation terms.

Unlike a document of title, the AWB does not confer ownership of the goods; its primary purpose is to facilitate tracking and tracing of the shipment during transit.


The invoice, a commercial invoice for exports document issued by the seller (exporter) to the buyer (importer), plays a crucial role in financial transactions.

It serves as a bill for the goods, specifying the amount the buyer is required to pay.

Including particulars such as a description of the goods, quantity, unit price, total amount, payment terms, and other financial details, the invoice is distinct from the AWB.

Unlike the AWB, the invoice is a financial document and is often necessary for customs clearance. Additionally, it plays a pivotal role in facilitating the payment process between the buyer and seller.

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