Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

The airway bill plays a critical role in international shipping by providing essential information, facilitating customs clearance, enabling tracking and visibility, and acting as proof of contract and receipt. It enhances efficiency, security, and accountability in the air freight transportation process, making it an indispensable document for businesses and logistics providers involved in international shipping.

What is Airway Bill?

A dispatch note or consignment letter that outlines the conditions of the contract between the shipper and the carrier (airline) is known as an airway bill. Global Air Waybill structure verification is the responsibility of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)1.

The consignee’s and shipper’s names and addresses, the three-letter airport codes for the origin and destination, the declared shipment value for customs, the quantity and weight of the goods, a description of the items, and any additional instructions (such as “perishable”) are also included in the airway bill.    

Normally a one-page document, the air waybill includes details about the shipment, the sender, and the destination. The document, which is given by IATA, comes in eight colours, each of which denotes a distinct shipping stage or goal. The Air Waybill also includes important information including the sender’s and receiver’s addresses, the carrier’s addresses, and contact details.

Types of Airway Bill

There are two types of AIrway Bills:

  1. Neutral AWB– this layout is identical to the airline airway bill without any specifications.
  2. Airline-specific AWB– the airway bill which has the airline’s name, logo, address, and AWB number.

8 distinct colour codes can be used to issue air waybills. Each hue represents something particular:

Green: The carrier (issuing authority) still has the original copy of this document.

Pink: This colour is likewise regarded as the original copy, and it stays with the shipment’s consignee.

Blue: The copy or an air waybill sent to the shipper is also regarded as an original.

Brown: In the course of commuting, this duplicate Air Waybill is utilized as a receipt or evidence of delivery.

White: The shipper also keeps this copy and uses it for a variety of things.

Each Air Waybill is given a distinct 11-digit number. This special code denotes the data in the following sections:

Functions of Airway Bill 

  1. Acts as an evidence

The airway bill is like a receipt of transportation of the goods from the seller to the consumer. This proof guarantees the package will arrive safely and securely, and it is an essential document to prevent or end tampering. Updates regarding the shipments may be easily accessible using the Airway bill number. 

  1. Source of contact

The airway bill serves as a document that provides details on crucial elements, such as address, dates, and contact information, to speed up and simplify the procedure. The package may be tracked and traced by both the sender and the recipient. 

  1. A proper description of goods

The weight, volume, size, and other relevant details are provided in more depth and specificity in the airway bill. Additionally, this aids in managing slots and space. The airway bill also specifies the kind of products sent.  

  1. Easy shipment tracking

To assure security and prompt delivery, the cargo business has seen a movement toward the e-AWB as a result of technological advancements. The parties may also easily trace and monitor the shipments using the e-Airwabill. 

  1. Customs Clearance

The airway bill contains essential information about the shipment, such as the shipper’s and consignee’s details, the description of the goods, and their value. This information is vital for customs authorities to assess duties and taxes and facilitate smooth customs clearance at the destination country.

Electronic Airway Bill

The electronic airway bill (e-AWB), which was originally launched in 2010, replaced the paper airway bill as the standard contract of carriage for all shipments of air freight on January 1, 2019. IATA currently uses electronic air waybills the majority of the time, however, traditional air waybill documents are still recognised. The electronic version can show the same data that is presented in the paper version. A substantial amount of paper is needed for each shipment of goods, so the paper must be managed and distributed.         


Thus, a legal document called an airway bill is used to transport and deliver goods by air. The airway bill is a one-page document that is complex due to the vast information it contains with the different types, colours and numerous receivers. It also plays a significant role in international shipping 

When delivering products overseas, an airway bill serves as a contract between you and the carrier. It contains the package’s contents, its origin and destination, as well as other crucial details. It contains the specifications of the shipping that needs to be signed by both parties to be legally binding. It is made enforceable by legislation. To read more about similar subjects, visit NimbusPost. 

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