Emergency Logistics Glossary

What is the AWB?

Definition: Air Waybill (AWB)

The Air Waybill (AWB) is a document that accompanies an airfreight shipment.

The AWB is a contract between the sender and the airline transporting the shipment. The AWB is also evidence for the transport contract and for the delivery of the goods. A transport via On Board Courier does not require an AWB, as the goods transported are declared as luggage rather than airfreight.

What does an AWB include?

In the Air Waybill you find the shipping list containing all accompanying papers for the transported airfreight:

  • freight invoice
  • insurance certificate
  • proof of fulfilment of the customs-related obligations
  • delivery confirmation

Additionally, the AWB can contain a list of all other papers that can vary depending on the destination:

  • commercial invoice
  • consular invoice: this will be issued by the consulate of the importing country, including information about the country of origin and the appropriateness of the price. This is done by the consulate of the importing country in the exporting country
  • certificate of origin
  • export licence
  • IATA „Shippers Declaration for Dangerous Goods“: A form describing dangerous goods and how to handle them
  • „Notification to Captain“ (NOTOC): information for the air carrier about dangerous goods on board and how to handle them

The Air Waybill has three carbon copies – green for the air carrier, blue for the sender and red for the recipient, usually there is an additional yellow copy as well.

No transport without AWB

Without an Air Waybill goods cannot be shipped as airfreight. For the emergency logistic it is therefore very important that an AWB be issued, otherwise the timeline cannot be met. The exception: a transport with an On Board Courier doesn’t need an AWB, because your shipment will be handled as luggage, not as air freight.