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What Is an Air Waybill (AWB)? | Speed Commerce

What Is an Air Waybill (AWB)?

3PL Glossary > Air Waybill (AWB)

What Is an Air Waybill (AWB)?

An air waybill (AWB) is a vital document utilized in the airfreight industry. It serves as a contract between the shipper, the airline, and the consignee, detailing the terms and conditions of transportation. Unlike a bill of lading for ocean shipments, an AWB is non-negotiable and confirms the receipt of goods for air transport.

What Do the Color-Coded AWB Copies Mean?

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The AWB plays a pivotal role in streamlining the air cargo process. Its accuracy and completeness are vital for ensuring a smooth and efficient journey for the goods from the shipper to the consignee. As an essential part of international trade, the AWB facilitates transparency, compliance, and effective communication across the logistics chain.

Ensuring the proper completion of an AWB is essential for international shipments. Any inaccuracies or missing information can lead to delays, customs issues, or misrouting of the cargo. As technology evolves, electronic AWBs have become more prevalent, further enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of air freight processes.


The identification system for the airline on the air waybill comprises three digits, while the subsequent eight digits serve as serial numbers to uniquely identify the package. It is common for the air waybill to feature a hyphen following the initial three digits, resulting in a format such as the following: 111-12345678.

No. AWB is non-negotiable, meaning it is not a document of title and cannot be transferred to another party.

Key information on the AWB includes details about the shipper and consignee, a description of the shipped goods, flight information, and any special handling instructions.

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