House Air Waybill (HAWB)

What is
House Air Waybill (HAWB)

The House Air Waybill is a receipt issued by a freight forwarder to the shipper for the goods being shipped. Serving as a contract of carriage between these two parties, the HAWB is a key document used in international transportation of goods via air. It details the terms and conditions under which the freight is to be carried and is critical for tracking and managing shipments.

House Air Waybill: An Integral Document in Air Freight Forwarding

In the sphere of air freight forwarding, the House Air Waybill (HAWB) is a fundamental document playing a pivotal role in the shipping process. It is essential for both freight forwarders and supply chain professionals to understand the nuances of the HAWB, as it is integral to the successful management and tracking of air shipments.

Role HAWB in Air Freight Forwarding

  • Contractual Document: The HAWB outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon by the shipper and the freight forwarder, including crucial details like the nature of the goods, destination, and agreed-upon delivery terms.
  • Shipment Tracking: Vital for tracking the shipment, it contains a unique number that enables all parties involved in the supply chain to track the cargo's progress from origin to destination.
  • Customs Clearance: In international shipping, the HAWB is used for customs clearance purposes, providing customs authorities with the necessary details to process the shipment.
  • Proof of Delivery: Once the goods reach their destination, the HAWB acts as proof of delivery, confirming that the freight forwarder has fulfilled their contractual obligations.

Distinction from Master Air Waybill

It's crucial to distinguish the HAWB from the Master Air Waybill (MAWB). The MAWB is issued by the airline to the freight forwarder and always falls under IATA rule, while the HAWB is issued by the freight forwarder to the shipper may or may not follow the IATA rules.. The MAWB covers the entire shipment, which can include multiple HAWBs, an important distinction for understanding responsibilities and liabilities in air freight forwarding.MAWB, it always falls under IATA rules.

Electronic Air Waybill (eAWB)

Transitioning from traditional paper-based air waybills, the eAWB is becoming increasingly prevalent in air freight forwarding. IATA introduced an electronic air waybill (e-air waybill or e-AWB) that became the default contract of carriage for all air cargo shipments on January 1, 2019. It’s a part of IATA’s e-Freight program of digitizing the industry and going paperless. An eAWB serves the same functions as a traditional AWB but in a digital format. This shift towards digitalization not only streamlines the documentation process but also enhances accuracy and efficiency in tracking and managing shipments. The adoption of eAWB aligns with the industry's move towards greater sustainability and reduced paper waste, and it is crucial for freight forwarders and supply chain professionals to adapt to this digital evolution for improved operational efficiency and compliance with global shipping standards.

Impact on Supply Chain Management

  • Efficiency in Logistics: The HAWB enhances efficiency in logistics, providing clear shipment details for faster processing and handling at various supply chain stages.
  • Risk Management: By clearly stating terms of carriage and liability, the HAWB aids in risk management, ensuring all parties understand their responsibilities.
  • Documentation Compliance: Supply chain professionals must ensure the HAWB is correctly filled out and compliant with international shipping regulations to avoid delays and penalties.

Challenges and Best Practices

  • Accuracy of Information: Accurate and complete information on the HAWB is vital to prevent delays and complications, especially in customs clearance.
  • Understanding of Terms: Professionals must thoroughly understand HAWB terms to avoid legal issues and misunderstandings.
  • Coordination with Carriers: Effective coordination with carriers and other stakeholders is necessary to ensure HAWB details align with those on the MAWB and other shipping documents.


In conclusion, the House Air Waybill is a critical document in air freight forwarding, serving as a contract, a tracking tool, and a document for customs clearance. Its proper management is essential for the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain, especially in international shipping. Understanding the HAWB's role, ensuring accuracy in its details, and adhering to best practices, including the adoption of eAWB, are key for freight forwarders and supply chain professionals to ensure smooth and successful air freight operations.

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