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Master Bill of Lading vs. House Bill of Lading & How It Impacts You

Jul 30, 2020 11:19:08 AM

When moving goods from their starting location to their final destination, a bill of lading makes the rules, and using the correct one is critical. Direct from DDC's team of customs brokerage processing and freight billing experts– Here is a quick and simple guide on the differences between a House Bill of Lading (HBL) and a Master Bill of Lading (MBL) and when they should be used in ocean freight. 

House Bill of Lading

A House Bill of Lading is a BOL created by an Ocean Transport Intermediary (OTI) such as a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company (NVOCC) and is issued to the supplier once the cargo has been received.  The HBL is an essential document in shipping as it's the formal acknowledgment of the receipt of goods being shipped. 

According to Freight Comparator, the HBL has the following requirements:

  • The consignee should be the actual receiver of the cargo 
  • The shipper should be the exporter of the cargo 
  • The notify can be either the importer or any other party mentioned in the bill of lading 

Master Bill Of Lading

A Master Bill of Lading is issued by the carrier (ship owner or operator) and represents the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier. It's important to note that the cargo shipper will only receive a Master Bill of Lading if they are working directly with a mainline carrier or a freight forwarder. 

The MBL is arguably one of the most reliable documents in maritime transportation because it is printed and signed by the carrier, and once the carrier confirms that it's received the cargo, the MBL is released to the entity who made the booking.

House Bill of Lading Vs. Master Bill of Lading

The main difference between the HBL and MBL is that an HBL is issued by an NVOCC (or freight forwarder) and usually lists the actual shipper and consignee, whereas, the MBL is issued by the carrier. Both the House and Master Bill of Lading  contain the same accurate, precise, and detailed information about cargo (the number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements, etc.). It’s also worth noting that the shipper, consignee and notify party are the only details that will be different in the HBL and MBL.  

A bill of lading, regardless of the vessel, guides the actions of the proper parties along the entire route of the shipment and tells the cargo handlers where the shipment is going, how the goods should be handled, what the piece count should be and how it will be billed. Here are some additional educational resources on bills of lading: 

Of course, in order  to  avoid revenue disruptionsit’s crucial to make sure all fields on all of your shipping documents are complete and accurate. International shipping experts recommend that you recognize and enforce the accuracy of data capture as a priority, starting at the shipment's point of origin and through Customs. For help, here are five best practices to prevent stalls in fulfilling your promises to cross-border customers.

Today's leaders in transportation and logistics, from top-ranked motor carriers to global freight forwarders preparing for Brexit, rely on DDC for our expertise, and we're pleased to share our insight on BOLs and other mission-critical data to freight business process management with you.


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