What are the Differences Between a Master and House Bill of Lading?


What is a Bill of Lading (BOL)?

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important documents in the shipping process. To ship any goods, a Bill of Lading is required and acts as a receipt and a contract. A completed Bill of Lading legally shows that a carrier has received the freight as described and is obligated to deliver that freight in good condition to the consignee.

The information in the Bill of Lading is critical, as it directs the actions of personnel all along the route of the shipment – where it’s going, the piece count, how it’s billed, and how it’s to be handled on the dock and trailers. It could be on a prepaid or collect basis.

The transportation documents used in maritime transports are generally referred to as a Bill of Lading. Bill of Ladings are classified differently due to the different features they have in practice. Basically, there are two different bill of lading types: the Master Bill of Lading and the House Bill of Lading.

What is a Master Bill of Lading (MBL)?

A Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is classified as a Bill of Lading issued by a ship owner or operator, known as a carrier. This type of Bill of Lading is the best type for the financier because it represents the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier.

International maritime transport is carried out mostly as container transport. There are large-scale carriers that carry container shipping worldwide such as MSC, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM, Evergreen, Cosco, etc. These companies carry out their own shipping activities with their own container ships. If an exporter wishes to transport with one of the specified carriers, it communicates with the carrier company and organizes transportation. After the loading organization, the carrier shows a signed bill of consignment to the exporter when the loaded container leaves the loading port. The carrier takes responsibilities for the Master Bill of Lading, as it is signed by the carrier and printed by the carrier. Therefore, a Master Bill of Lading is one of the most reliable documents in maritime transportation. A Master Bill Of Lading is basically printed in two ways:

1. A Direct Master Bill of Lading, organized directly by the agency/carriers to the exporter.
2. Master Bill of Lading, organized by carriers for freight forwarders.

What is a House Bill of Lading (HBL)?

A House Bill of Lading (HBL) is a document created by a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company (NVOCC). The document is an acknowledgment of the receipt of goods that are to be shipped. It is issued to the supplier/shipper once the cargo has been received, and the consignee, who the freight forwarder delivers the shipment to.

The document also includes specific information about the items shipped and the value of the shipping contract. A House Bill of Lading shows an agreement between the shipper and consignee. On a House Bill of Lading, the actual shipper and consignee of the shipment are usually listed.

To summarize, here’s how it is determined what Bill of Lading is issued;

The main difference is that a House Bill of Lading is issued by an NVOCC or freight forwarder, and usually lists the actual shipper and consignee. By contrast, a Master Bill of Lading is issued by the ship line company or mainline carrier and usually lists the agents or parties involved in the transportation of the goods.

Additionally, the actual shipper of the cargo will only receive a Master Bill of Lading if they are working directly with a mainline carrier or a freight forwarder. If the shipper is working with a freight forwarder, they will receive a House Bill of Lading instead as their Bill of Lading.