Transport documents are contracts for carriage of goods exchanged between different actors. They differ depending on the method of carriage used.
Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading (B/L) is a contract for maritime carriage that specifies the taking of responsibility, or the loading, of goods by the carrier. It contains detailed information on the goods, the boat and the port of destination.
It is a document of title to the goods, that gives right to their ownership. The carrier commits to delivering the goods to the person who holds the bill of lading and who will come and get the goods. It is a transferable title: the originals may be transferred by endorsement.
The Sea Waybill documents only the carriage contract signed by the shipper and the maritime transport line and represents the receipt of the goods. It contains detailed information on the port of embarkation, the port of destination, the name of the ship, the name of the shipper, the name and the address of the recipient.
Different from the Maritime Bill of Lading, the Sea Waybill is not a document of title to the goods and is non-transferable.
Consignment Note (CMR)
The CMR consignment note certifies the carrier's taking of responsibility for the merchandise and shipping upon signature by the carrier. It documents a carriage contract of the goods that exists independently of them. It must be established in the form specified by the "Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road" (CMR).
Air Waybill (AWB)
The Air Waybill constitutes the proof of the carriage contract, the taking of responsibility for the goods and the documentation of the prices. It certifies the effective shipment once the carrier has entered the date and number of the flight. It is standardized by the IATA (International Air Transport Association), that moreover, develops solutions for the dematerialization of AWB's.
In the case of grouping, when goods are gathered with other goods to complete a load for the same destination, the forwarder that groups the goods becomes legally, with respect to the carrier, the shipper and thus the drafter of the parent air waybill, referred to as the Master Air Waybill (MAWB). A "daughter" air waybill referred to as the House Air Waybill (HAWB) documents the contract between the forwarder and each of the shippers included in a grouping.
Rail Consignment Note (CIM)
The Rail Consignment Note (CIM) or International Consignment Note is a document governed by the 1980 Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF-CIM). It is issued by the carrier and is considered as the rail carriage contract. This document is non-transferable and is not requested upon arrival.