HomeBill of LadingDifference between HBL and MBL? & how it impacts your shipment

Difference between HBL and MBL? & how it impacts your shipment

The basic difference between HBL and MBL is that – MBL means Master Bill of Lading that is issued by the main carrier of goods after the goods are received from a freight forwarder to deliver at the destination as per agreed terms. HBL means House Bill of Lading which is issued by the freight forwarder after the goods are received from the shipper agreeing to deliver goods at the destination.

We suggest you first read and know about – what is Bill of Lading and what are the type of Bill of Lading.

How to Differentiate Between MBL and HBL?


The first question that might arise when you practically start handling sea shipments is what is the difference between MBL (Master Bill of Lading) and HBL (House Bill of Lading)

How will you differentiate between the MBL and HBL?

We have explained all questions on MBL & HBL with examples in detail in a Layman’s language. Also, to know about what is Bill of Lading is and its types you can refer to our article on the same.

What is the Master Bill of Lading (MBL)?

  • Master bill of lading is a document issued by the carrier to the shipper.
  • When the carrier receives the goods from the shipper it issues Master bill of Lading to the shipper. Hence, it is also used to prove the receipt of goods by the carrier.
  • The shipper directly gives goods to the carrier and receives the Master bill of Lading.

What is the House Bill of Lading (HBL)?

  • House bill of Lading is a document issued by the freight forwarder or an NVOCC (Non-Vessel Owing Common Carrier) to the shipper.
  • In simple language, A freight forwarder or NVOCC companies receives goods from multiple shippers who want to send their goods to the same destination, he then combines/loads all the goods from these multiple shippers in a single container and then gives this container to carrier who gives him Master Bill of Lading (MBL). He then issues House bill of Lading (HBL) to all these shippers to prove the receipt of goods.
  • HBL is mainly used to save costs and freight involved in import export. It is just like if you book an entire flight for yourself it will be obviously costlier so you just book a single seat.

Now that you clearly know the difference between MBL & HBL we will now understand How MBL and HBL are used practically with help of examples.

Difference between HBL and MBL - www.eximpedia.com
Difference between HBL and MBL – www.eximpedia.com

Example of Master bill of Lading

  • Let’s assume you are an exporter in India and want to send 100 boxes of pens to Japan. You will pack and load these boxes in a container and do the export customs clearance process and once your container reaches the port and is loaded on the carrier (Ship) which is owned by Mearsk Shipping line, Mearsk will issue Master Bill of Lading to you which means carrier(ship) has received your goods and is ready to ship to Japan.
  • Now, you have received the MBL which you will send to your buyer/consignee in Japan by courier.
  • Mearsk shipping line will issue a delivery order to your buyer/consignee in Japan after which your buyer/consignee will have to submit the original Master Bill of Lading to the Mearsk Shipping line office to receive the goods at the port for delivery.
  • Once Delivery order (DO) is received by your buyer/consignee in Japan from Mearsk Shipping line they will be able to take the goods and do the further clearance process and take delivery of goods.

The main process is explained in a very short and crisp manner above. There are many aspects that need to be followed to take actual delivery/export which you will know when you handle the work practically. You can also mention your queries in the comment section below.

Example of House Bill of Lading

  • Assume that you are an exporter in India who wants to ship 5 boxes of pens to USA.
  • Now since the boxes are only 5, booking entire container is not worth. It will just increase your cost.
  • So, you find a freight forwarder or a NVOCC company. You tell the freight forwarder that you want to ship the 5 boxes to USA and ask him to give you the best rate for shipping the same. He will give you the rate and ask you to either send the goods to his warehouse or he will arrange for a vehicle to pick up your goods which is 5 boxes.
  • He will then arrange for a container and load your goods with certain other exporters goods in India who want to ship to USA.
  • Now he will book freight (space) on the ship by contacting the shipping line say COSCO Shipping line, Cosco will give him Master bill of lading (MBL) mentioning all details about the container and goods inside it and other details as per the Multimodal transport document act and customs requirement.
  • After freight forwarder receives MBL from the shipping line Cosco, he will issue House bill of lading (HBL) to you and other exporters whose goods are there in the container.
  • You will send this HBL to your USA buyer by courier before the ship reaches USA.
  • Your buyer in USA will submit this original HBL in Cosco in USA and get the delivery order. Once delivery order is issued by cosco your buyer will take the delivery.

So, if you see everything is actually done by the freight forwarder or NVOCC Company. This helps you save your overall costs and freight too.

The above details are explained in a very Layman’s language and crisp manner. Once you do the process practically there are many different aspects you will understand.

Eximpedia suggests you please check all the details on MBL and HBL correctly as it is a negotiable document and can be considered as a legal document too.

Difference between HBL and MBL

Other all details such as the number of containers, container numbers, weight, measurements, description of cargo, vessel information, seal numbers, etc. remain the same.

Read all the documents carefully and calculate your costs and select which one is better for you MBL or HBL.

Also please do follow Eximpedia on all social media platforms for all the latest information on import, export, and foreign trade.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular