A document that contains information about a shipment’s contents, the point of origin, intended route and destination

When people travel and move through countries, they must carry along their passports, which tells immigration authorities where they come from.

No passport? No way through.

Like people, all shipments that move across borders also need a unique identification tag.

The waybill is the shipment’s version of the passport. It contains all the information that the relevant authorities need to know about its point of origin, its contents, where it is headed, and the route it will take.

In maritime logistics, the waybill is also sometimes known as the bill of lading, a document that has been used among freight carriers and shippers for hundreds of years. This important piece of paper provides critical shipment details, such as the sender’s and recipient’s name and address, conditions of carriage and package contents — all so that consignments can be delivered accurately, securely, and promptly.

The waybill is usually attached to the exterior of the package. Couriers, customs officials, and even machines refer to it to easily identify and track the package.

With the rise of e-commerce, the waybill has become an even more important component of the package. A unique tracking number on the waybill allows the item to be tracked in real time.

Technological advances have paved the way for electronic waybills, which promise to boost transparency and efficiency, and also serve as an anti-evasion measure.

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