AWB: Air Way Bill

French Translation : Lettre de Transport Aérien (LTA)

What is AWB transport?

The Air Waybill is the transport document for goods shipped by air. The Air Waybill acts as the transport contract of goods agreed upon between the transporter and shipper. The AWB is not a mandatory document, unless the companies are members of the IATA (International Air Transport Association).

Necessary for import and export of goods, the Air Waybill serves as all the following:

  • Proof of transport contract made between the shipper and the transporter
  • Confirmation of taking over or acceptance of goods by the transporter
  • An invoice
  • An insurance certificate
  • Guidelines for handling of goods

The characteristics of an Air Waybill

The layout of the Air Waybill was standardized by the IATA via the CSC (Cargo Services Conference). The AWB must indicate the following obligatory information:

  • The date and place the Air Waybill was established;
  • The points of departure and destination;
  • The planned stopovers (the transporter can modify transit if necessary);
  • The planned date and time of departure and/or return
  • Name and address of the expediter;
  • The contact details of the forwarder at departure and destination;
  • Contact details of the transporter;
  • The contact details of the recipient;
  • The contact details of the handling company at departure and destination;
  • The nature of the goods;
  • The number of packages, the mode of packaging, their markings and numbers;
  • The quantity, volume, weight and dimensions of the goods;
  • The visible state of the goods and packaging;
  • The transport costs if stipulated, the date and place of payment, as well as the name of the payer;
  • Tax and duties details;
  • In the case of payment on delivery, the price of the goods and costs;
  • The sum of value declared;
  • The number of copies of the Air Waybill;
  • The additional documents handed to the transporter together with the Air Waybill;
  • Transport delivery time and brief description of the transit route if it has been established;
  • Customs information and conformity with aviation security regulations according to the nature of the goods.

The IATA has created the e-Air Waybill in order to simplify the air freight procedures. The AWB in paper format will progressively be replaced by the digital version. This system will make procedures faster and more secure.

Examples and practical applications

The Air Waybill can be written by the recipient, the expediter or the transporter (airline company). In the case of a single unit shipment, the Air Waybill is written by the airline agent. For a grouped shipment, the consolidator establishes a House Air Waybill, signed by the airline company before loading of the goods, then handed over to the shipper. The shipper is responsible for the exactness of the information and declaration relative to the goods registered on the Air Waybill. The expediter can manage the transport of goods using one or many Air Waybills if there are several packages to be shipped.

In paper format, the Air waybill is produced in 3 copies:

  • The first copy “for the transporter” is signed by the shipper;
  • The second copy “for the recipient” is signed by the transporter and shipper;
  • The third copy “for the expediter” is signed by the transporter. The transporter then returns the AWB to the expeditor on acceptance of the goods.

Regulatory basis

Convention for the standardization of certain regulations relative to international transport of goods by air or the Montreal Convention of 28 May 1999.

Convention for the standardization of certain regulations relative to international transport of goods by air or the Warsaw Convention of 12 October 1929, amended in 1955, 1961, 1971 and 1975. States that have not signed the Montreal Convention (destined to replace the Warsaw Convention) are subject to the regulations of the Warsaw Convention.