Learning How to Read Transport Documents

Documents are part of our life. You can’t become a participant of transportation without documents. Below you can find useful advices how to find required information in supporting documents.


Let’s start from the most popular/widespread way of transportation – by truck.  Almost everything can be transported by truck. In case of international truck transportation it’s a CMR waybill. It includes the information about supporting documents. It’s the novel about cargo life where you can find out who, what, how may, to whom, from where and how long the cargo was transported. And this information is not comprehensive. Original CMR is received by shipper, consignee and carrier. All parties should carefully check the documents; any mismatch can lead to problems, timeouts and headache for transporters.
So, how we can read CMR. First two columns – shipper and consignee. They or their legal representatives are the ones who should put stamps in columns 22 and 24. Columns 1 and 2 are filled-in according to invoice. The third column is the place of delivery, the forth – the place of cargo pick-up. The fifth column shows supporting documents, primarily invoices (with the date of issue). Columns from 7 to 11 are devoted to transported goods. There you can find all the information from commodity to gross weight. The customs of destination and temporary warehouse are indicated in column 13. The main task of the client is to put signature in correct place in documents says Alexey Lipatov, the Head of the Department of Multimodal Transportation of ACEX Group.

Алексей ЛипатовWe work in order to make the business of our customer easier.  That’s why we are responsible for filling-in of transport documents. We complete CMR on our own. Our scope is to fill in the information about customs, truck plate number etc. For import delivery it is the shipper who is responsible for CMR completing, but we prefer to issue the waybill ahead and to forward it to the consignor in order to avoid any mistakes. Everything must match up: the shipper, the consignee, the number of pieces, etc. The client should make sure that all documents correspond to proper goods, the rest is on our account.

SMGS railway consignment note consists of 6 numbered sheets, which are completed by the consignor and forwarded to the carrier. Here you can find the original railway consignment note – on the first page and a copy, invoice, sheets of release, acceptance and notice of delivery of cargo. In these documents you can find the name and sometimes the contacts of the shipper, the name of railway station of origin and the name of railway (it is coded in 2-4 letters, for example, GR – the Georgia railways, or DSVN for Vietnam). All the details – from the terms of transportation to the route and wagon damage description are indicated in statements of the sender. Obviously, weight and station of destination are also mentioned. Useful information: in column 8 should be mentioned who provided the wagon – the shipper or the carrier. Even if the wagon was provided by the consignee you must put “the shipper” as they are equal here.



Aurway Bill Airway Bill

AirWay Bill is the most numerous as 12 copies are required: 3 originals – for the consignor, the airline and the consignee, the rest are copies. Even the number of this paper is very informative: AWB has 11-digit number. These numerals are not ordinary ones, first 3 are the prefix of airline (for example, 235-Turkish Airlines or 157 Qatar Airways), after the series number goes. Such Airway Bills are called MAWB – Master AirWayBill. In case of consolidation of several cargoes from different shippers and for different consignees or in case of delivery between several cargo agents HAWB – House AirWayBill is used. MAWB performs as a transport document, connecting agents in the country of dispatch and destination and airline, HAWB is used for Customs purpose. But in conditions of the Russian market most part of transportation goes straightly through direct MAWB, as underlined by Eugenia Vidulina, the Head of Customer Relations Department of ACEX:

Евгения Видулина

If we make Customs Clearance we usually check the AirWay Bill and its correspondence to transport documents. The main columns are “the shipper” and “the consignee”. The nature of the goods is out of interest from the point of view of Customs (only in case of dangerous cargo, the rules are strict here). Also it is necessary to check the weight – if we have 80 kg instead of declared 30 – something went wrong, minimum differences are not critical here.  There are some peculiar moments – for example, if the cargo should arrive to the Sheremetyevo airport you need to make sure that cargo has not been transported by the airline, which flights are served by Domodedovo only. But the most important for the customer is the number of AirWay Bill as the movement of cargo can be tracked (the route and booking information are indicated in AirWay Bill, but the real time information is the most useful).   

For the sea freight delivery the Bill of Landing is the signal for payment depending from the terms of delivery and agreements. This document is very important for the crossing of border as well as for the confirmation of dispatch,  says Denis Bobrakov, the Commercial Director of Black Sea Shipping Ltd:

Денис Бобраков

There are 3 types of work with Bills of Landing. The work with originals –release in the office of the shipping line of the country of origin and acceptance in the office of the country of destination, but this solution is likely to end. The next is Telex release – issuing of originals at the address of the freight payer and their acceptance after the confirmation of parties (usually after payment). SeaWay Bill – the approval for the delivery of cargo without issuing of originals at the country of dispatch as it fastens and simplifies the process. Bill of Landing is firstly the document connected with freight forwarder and shipping line relations. So for the customer it’s not as important as invoice.

Finally the accuracy and right choice of transportation specialists will help the customer to save time and money.

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