1. What is a Master Bill (MBL)?
An MBL is a master bill of lading issued by a shipping company to the shipper.
On the master bill, the “shipper” is usually the freight forwarder of the seller or the maritime agent. The “buyer” is usually the maritime agent or the freight forwarder of the buyer.
2. What is a House Bill (HBL)?
An HBL is a secondary bill of lading issued by a freight forwarder to the shipper (actual shipper) and consignee (actual consignee).
On the secondary bill of lading, the “shipper” is usually the seller, the exporter of the goods, and the “consignee” is the buyer, the importer.
3. Difference Between MBL and HBL
In terms of appearance:
- MBL has the logo of the shipping company, while HBL is printed with the logo of the freight forwarder company.
- MBL only has one stamp and one signature, while HBL can have two stamps and two signatures (signatures and stamps of the freight forwarder and the carrier).
- MBL states the port of destination, while HBL states the place of receipt.
In terms of ease of editing the original bill:
- It is easier to edit an HBL than an MBL.
In terms of risk for the cargo owner:
- Making an HBL is riskier than making an MBL. When making an MBL, the shipper can take the original bill to sue the shipping company in the event of a loss, but when making an HBL, you can only take the original bill to sue the freight forwarder. Small freight forwarders will easily evade responsibility.
In terms of legal relationships:
- An MBL regulates the relationship between the actual carrier (the owner of the ship) and the person who booked the space on the ship (which can be the freight forwarder or the actual exporter). While HBL only regulates the relationship between the cargo owner (real shipper) and the intermediary (freight forwarder).
- When issuing a bill of lading, an MBL will be subject to the Hague, Hamburg, etc. rules, while HBL will not.
In general, MBL is more beneficial for cargo owners than HBL. However, MBL is also more complicated to process and requires more time.