Difference Between HAWB and MAWB


All shipments, irrespective of their origin and destination, are provided with documents from the carrier. In the case of air freight, the document issued by the airline is called an airway bill or simply AWB. However, there are two different types of airway bills based upon the party that is arranging the freight of the shipment. These are called Master airway bill and House airway bill. This article attempts to make clear the difference between HAWB and MAWB.


This is the main document issued by the airline that is carrying the shipment. This bill is also referred to as master airway bill and is issued by either the airline or by its authorized agent. MAWB is non-negotiable, and it provides for transport of goods or consignment from one airport to another. When an agent issues the bill on behalf of an airline, it is called a Master Airway Bill (MAWB).

MAWB has an eleven digit number printed on it, of which, the first three digits are the prefix of the airline while the remaining are for the consignment and help in tracking the location of the shipment. There are several copies of MAWB and the first three are considered originals. First one is blue and is the copy of the shipper. Second one is also blue and is the copy of the airline. The third copy is orange and is given to consignee. There is also a yellow copy that is considered a delivery receipt.


The acronym HAWB stands for House Airway Bill and is issued by the airfreight agent for its customer. There are two main functions of HAWB. It serves as the receipt for the goods or the shipment and also as an evidence of a contract between the airfreight agent and the customer. The fright agent accepts that it has gotten the goods from the customer and also the fact that it is obliged to act as a freight forwarder. The document contains all the terms and conditions of the contract. Usually HAWB is readied before the goods are delivered to the airline that carries them. However, HAWB is not a document of title.

It is the responsibility of the airfreight agent to ensure that all correct entries are made in the HAWB. The agent also has to ensure proper care of the goods while they are in his custody. The agent has to make sure that the person who receives goods at the final destination is, in fact, a representative of the consignee to avoid any mistake of identity.

What is the difference between HAWB and MAWB?

Airway bills are of two types, the Master Airway Bill and the House Airway Bill. The nomenclature is indicative of the entity that arranges the export of the shipment.

The bill issued by the cargo agent on behalf of the carrier or by the airline itself is called the Master Airway Bill. MAWB is usually for consolidated cargo though there are also papers for individual consignment that are referred to as House Airway Bills. However, HAWB can also be issued by a freight agent. The airline then issues MAWB to the freight forwarder.