All You Need to Know About Airway Bills: A Guide for Shippers

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“Thank you for your purchase, your order will be shipped out by the seller soon. Click here to check the status of delivery.”

I’m sure you have lost count of how many times you’ve received this notification after clicking the confirm purchase button. But have you ever wondered how you can easily track the whereabouts of your parcel once the seller sends out the product?

Or how can the dispatcher or delivery person be able to deliver the parcel to your house (mostly) without making any mistakes? 

If your guess is because of the tracking number, you’re partially correct!

The answer is because of the whole piece of paper that is attached to your parcel!

What Is an Air Waybill (AWB)?

If you’re wondering, that piece of paper is called an air waybill (AWB). It is an official piece of document that a seller issues to show the detail of the goods that are being shipped to the receiver. 

A seller will have to fill in and submit this piece of the document before they can hand over their parcel for shipping or delivery. 

This is because an airway bill can also act as a contract between the shipper and the courier. It is also what connects all three parties, the sender, the courier and the receiver.

Take a look at a sample of our Air Waybill (AWB).

Here’s a sample of our AWB just for your better understanding. I’m sure you’ve seen something similar to this if you've ever received a parcel before!

Why Do I Need an Air Waybill?

The most obvious reason is that an air waybill will act as a document that can be proof that the shipment has been conducted. Once a parcel has been delivered, the Air waybill with the receiver’s signature can act as solid evidence that the parcel is well received.

An air waybill also acts as a waypoint for the delivery person. Without an air waybill, parcels will not be delivered efficiently. Why? Well, couriers will not be able to sort parcels by territory or postcode without Air waybills. Safe to say that dispatchers might not even be able to deliver your parcel within a few days!

An air waybill can also be a legally binding document that provides details and descriptions of the goods and shipments. This can be very useful when it comes to solving or preventing problems that might occur.

For an instance, if there are any unwanted conflicts, claims or disputes that are parcel or shipment related, the air waybill can be used as a legal document and evidence in solving the problem.

Also, the most important information in an air waybill is its unique tracking number. Every piece of air waybill provides a short string of numbers that is unique only to that document. This will enable a sender and receiver to track and identify which courier is handling the parcel shipped.

In other words, to ensure the parcel has a smooth and efficient journey, an air waybill will be necessary to do so.

What Should I Fill In in an AWB?

An air waybill requires you to fill in vital information that can help the courier company to successfully ship the product from your hands to the receiver's hands.

Don’t know how to do so? Let’s break each section down so you can understand them easier! 

  1. Sender’s details: Basic information about the sender. Information from the company name, phone number, address, city state and also postcode.

  2. Recipient details: Same as the above, but the for the receiver! The receiver’s postcode number will be enlarged for the dispatcher’s better viewing.

  3. Goods Description: The basic description of the goods and the declaration that the items are not under the prohibited items list.

  4. Weight of the parcel: The actual weight and the dimensional weight of the parcel.

  5. Services and Charges: If you were to request any repack services and the total shipment fees

  6. Insurance: To fill in the value of the goods. If the parcel is lost on its journey to the seller, the courier will reimburse an amount of the value of the goods. 

  7. Payment: To notify the courier which party will be paying for the goods delivered to

  8. Destination Area Code: Helps the courier company by providing them with the receiver’s area code for them to sort things easily. 

  9. Sender’s signature: Once you have checked everything, you can sign on the consignment paper before handing it over to the courier. 

  10. Dispature’s signature: The deliveryperson will sign on the air waybill when they have picked up the parcel. 

  11. Recipient’s Signature: Finally, the receiver will sign on the consignment paper once he or she has successfully received the parcel.

  12. Remarks: Finally, if there are any specific requirements or delivery deadlines, they can be mentioned in the remarks section of the consignment notes.

*Please take note that the criteria above are just a general guide and each courier company might have different interpretations of an Air Waybill.

Once you’ve finished filling up the form, always remember to make sure everything is accurate and complete. As an air waybill will be treated as a legally binding document. 

You won’t want your parcel dedicated to the receivers going to the wrong place, or stuck in the warehouse, don’t you?

When Will I Need an Airway Bill?

The rule of thumb is, you will always need a physical air waybill as long as you are planning to ship anything.

Currently, you must print out and attach the air waybill to the parcel before handing it over to the counter to the courier.

That goes without saying that shipping internationally will also require an air waybill as it will be required by the customers or other authorities as a part of the import and export process.

The copy of consignment notes may vary depending on the shipping journey and the courier of your choice, but the rule of thumb is that you should at least have 3 copies of the air waybill that can act as proof for yourself, the courier and also for the receiver to sign on.

How Do I Print Out My Airway Bill?

If you’re trying to print your air waybill but don’t want to risk it being unusable for your parcel, we would always recommend you print your consignment notes at your local post station. However, safety comes with a price and the price of printing an air waybill will vary for the courier of your choice. So always pay attention to the prices before you’d want to print the consignment note!

What’s the Difference Between the Shipping Forms in Malaysia

As you might have already noticed, different companies have different names for these shipping documents. These shipping documents may be namely shipping labels, consignment notes and airwaybills. However, in Malaysia, these shipping documents have a similar meaning. 

Yes, if you’re trying to send a parcel regardless domestically or internationally, you will need an Air Waybill. Typically, in Malaysia, an AWB is able to can represent the functions that a consignment note and a shipping label can do in other countries. 

So, you will not need to worry too much about the differences between these shipping forms as couriers in Malaysia treat this term as the same document, unlike other countries.

The Future of Air Waybills

We live in an era where the pandemic has brought huge changes. For those who frequently send out parcels to friends or customers, you might have noticed a recent technical update or shift in Air Waybills recent years.

What change is that? To be specific, shipping companies have now introduced Electronical Air Waybills or eAWB where people can get everything done with a click of a few buttons. 

Senders are just required to scan a QR code provided by the courier company and enter the information digitally. 

Senders are free to do this in the comfort of their own house or any courier outlets once they hand over their parcels. Gone was the time when we had to bring our parcel to a physical shop only to manually fill in everything with a ball pen.

Maybe in the future, we won’t even need to attach any physical paper to the parcel we send out. Hopefully, we are able to practise ‘greener’ delivery methods by only using QR codes or bar codes for each parcel that can be easy for dispatchers to track and deliver.