GLOBAL SELLING BLOG

Master Bill of Lading vs House Bill of Lading: Everything you need to know

In terms of export logistics process, both the Master Bill of Lading and the House Bill of Lading are used. Learn about the key differences between the two types of bills.
Master Bill of Lading vs House Bill of Lading
A Bill of Lading is an important export document that works as proof of shipment. It states what products are being shipped, where the shipment is from (origin country) and what is the destination of the shipment (destination country). In terms of export logistics process, both the Master Bill of Lading and the House Bill of Lading are used.

What is a Master Bill of Lading?

A Master Bill of Lading is issued by the owner or operator of a ship (carrier). It consists of the transport contract between the shipper (owner of goods in transit) and the carrier (operator of a mode of such transit). The cargo shipper obtains a Master Bill of Lading if they operate directly with a freight forwarder or a mainline carrier. Shipping businesses and carriers prepare a Master Bill of Lading as a transfer receipt with information on the terms necessary for freight transportation and details of the consignor or shipper, consignee and the person in possession of the goods. It is an important document for ocean freight as it is printed and signed by the carrier. After the carrier acknowledges that it has received the cargo, the Master Bill of Lading is delivered to the organisation (shipper) that made the booking.

Purpose of a Master Bill of Lading

A Master Bill of Lading performs many key functions in terms of cargo ownership and purchase agreements. When you engage in an international trade transaction and shipment of goods, it might be difficult to determine when the ownership of the products shifts from the exporter to the importer or other parties involved in the process. A Master Bill of Lading answers these questions and helps define these ownership limits.

What is included in a Master Bill of Lading?

Some of the information included in a Master Bill of Lading are1:
• Shipper/consignee information, container numbers, seals, item counts and weights. The goods cannot be discharged without a Bill of Lading. Thus, the information on a Bill of Lading must be clear and correct.

How to fill a Master Bill of Lading?

Some of the following details need to be provided while filling a Master Bill of Lading2:

• Details about the shipper or Non-Vessel Owning Common Carrier (NVOCC) such as business name, address and contact information.
• Details about the consignee including business name, address, contact information and any tax ID numbers as required.
• Notify party specifics such as business name, address and contact information.
• If a forwarder is utilized, business name, address, contact information and FMC number need to be added.
• Booking number issued by the carrier and any internal reference numbers for the shipper, consignee, or cargo.
• Name of the vessel and the voyage reference number.
• Loading and discharging ports
• Container and seal numbers
• Piece count, package type, and commodity description are shown next to the container it pertains to.
• Weight and volume adjacent to the container to which it applies
• Total component count, weight, and volume for all containers in the cargo AES/ITN number,
HS Code, payment terms (Freight Prepaid, Collect, DTHC Prepaid, etc.), BL Release Type (Express, OBLs printed at origin or destination, etc.)

What is a House Bill of Lading?

A House Bill of Lading is a document that is issued by an ocean transport intermediary freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company. It is an acknowledgement of the receipt of goods that are shipped, issued to the suppliers when the cargo is received3.

Master Bill of Lading vs House Bill of Lading

Some of the differences between the House Bill of Lading and the Master Bill of Lading are:

House Bill of Lading

• An NVOCC operator or a freight forwarder issues a House Bill of Lading (HBL).

• In an HBL, the shipper is usually the actual shipper/exporter of the cargo (or as specified by the L/C).

• The consignee will usually be the actual receiver/importer of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C).

• The notify could be the same as the consignee (or any other party as dictated by the L/C).

Master Bill of Lading

• Shipping line (carrier) issues a Master Bill of Lading (MBL) to the NVOCC operator or freight forwarder.

• In a Master Bill of Lading, the shipper is usually the NVOCC operator, their agent, or the freight forwarder.

• The consignee will usually be the destination agent or counterpart or office of the NVOCC operator or the freight forwarder.

• The notify could be the same as the consignee.

Easy e-commerce exports with Amazon
Global Selling

As an e-commerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling enables Indian sellers and MSMEs to take their products from India to international marketplaces across 200+ countries and territories. Without having to set up a physical store or warehouse abroad, Amazon’s simple registration process and hassle-free logistic support helps you reach global customers in a seamless manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will issue the Master Bill of Lading?
The Shipping Line (Carrier) issues a Master Bill of Lading (MBL) to the NVOCC Operator or Freight Forwarder.
What is the MBL used for?
A Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is a document produced by a carrier that is used to reflect the goods' contract of transportation.
What is the difference between a Bill of Lading and a Master Bill of Lading?
An NVOCC operator or a Freight Forwarder will issue a House Bill of Lading (HBL) to their customers, while a Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is provided by the Shipping Line (Carrier) to the NVOCC Operator or Freight Forwarder.
What is the full form of MBL?
The full form of MBL is the Master Bill of Lading.
Published on August 29, 2022.

Sources:
1. https://www.morethanshipping.com/information-include-Master-bill-lading-shipping-instructions/
2. https://www.20cube.com/blog/the-significance-of-two-bills-of-lading-in-freight-forwarding/#:~:text=Master%20Bill%20of%20Lading%20(MBL,document%2C%20mandatory%20for%20sea%20shipments
3. https://www.shippingandfreightresource.com/difference-between-house-bill-of-lading-and-master-bill-of-lading/#:~:text=A%20House%20Bill%20of%20Lading%20(HBL)%20is%20issued%20by%20an,Operator%2C%20or%20Freight%20Forwarder..
Disclaimer: Whilst Amazon Seller Services Private Limited ("Amazon") has used reasonable endeavours in compiling the information provided, Amazon provides no assurance as to its accuracy, completeness or usefulness or that such information is error-free. In certain cases, the blog is provided by a third-party seller and is made available on an "as-is" basis. Amazon hereby disclaims any and all liability and assumes no responsibility whatsoever for consequences resulting from use of such information. Information provided may be changed or updated at any time, without any prior notice. You agree to use the information, at your own risk and expressly waive any and all claims, rights of action and/or remedies (under law or otherwise) that you may have against Amazon arising out of or in connection with the use of such information. Any copying, redistribution or republication of the information, or any portion thereof, without prior written consent of Amazon is strictly prohibited.

*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

Start your export
journey today

Join our family of one lakh Indian exporters selling globally
Follow Amazon Global Selling on