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What is a Waybill?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 16, 2024
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A waybill is sometimes referred to as a bill of lading. Such a document is commonly used in the shipping industry. Its primary purpose is to provide information about a shipment. In may also act as a receipt for the payment or rendering of shipping services. Such documents are commonly used for shipments by road, boat, or air.

When a person plans to ship something, she will generally need a waybill. This is usually made available by the shipper as a paper form or it may be made available online as an electronic form. In most instances, it will be filled out by the shipper.

The type of information requested on a waybill can vary depending on the shipping company and the means of shipment. There is some information, however, that is standard. To begin with, details about the shipper are usually requested. These may include her name, address, and telephone number.

The shipper may have the option of choosing from several shipping methods. For example, a company may offer choices between standard and expedited services. She may be able to choose between land or air delivery. Such a form may also offer a shipper the option of additional services, such as e-mail delivery confirmation or signed delivery.

Once the shipper has indicated all of her shipping preferences, there may be a space where an agent of the shipping company will indicate the cost for the service and whether it has been paid. If the shipping costs are to be paid by the receiver, this may be indicated.

In order for the package to be received, however, the receiver needs to be identified. Some companies allow a business to be named as the receiver on a waybill. Others require a specific individual’s name, even when a company name is provided. The address, telephone number, and e-mail address of the receiver are also commonly requested.

When a waybill is in paper form, it generally has multiple copies. One may be retained by the agent who picks up or accepts the package. A second copy is generally given to the shipper. Another copy is often attached to the shipment. This copy should eventually become the property of the receiver. A forth copy may be taken by the company agent that completes the delivery.

Many waybills contain tracking codes. These allow the progress of the shipment to be monitored. It is also common for the terms and conditions of shipment to be listed on the back of each copy of the waybill.

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Discussion Comments

By wavy58 — On Apr 21, 2012

@seag47 – The company should be emailing you a copy of your waybill. It should include all the information in one email, but you may have to mark a certain box in order to receive this bill.

Otherwise, you can see it right before you place your order. The page that pops up with your item description, quantity, and total cost including shipping and handling is a waybill.

However, the copy that you could be receiving by email might have even more information on it. Mine usually has the credit card that I used listed on it, and this can be helpful in remembering which one you charged it to, if you have more than one card.

By seag47 — On Apr 20, 2012

I do most of my shopping online, so I usually don't get a paper waybill. I have to click through so many steps to enter all the information that I'm not even sure which part is considered the waybill.

Is it the thing that the company says I should review before clicking to place my order, or should I print out each window as I click along and save all of them together? I go through several, from one where I enter my name and address to one where I enter my credit card number, and it would be exhausting to print them all and keep up with them.

By shell4life — On Apr 19, 2012

I make and sell art at home, so waybills are a convenient way for me to keep records of my expenses. When the time comes to do my taxes, I have neat little paper forms to go by when determining my deductions.

I keep a waybill for every shipment that arrives. It clearly states the number of canvases and tubes of paint that I have ordered and the price for each one.

It is way more convenient for me to keep all my waybills in a folder than to write down every single item in a book for record keeping. The company that sends the waybill basically keeps records of my expenses for me.

By orangey03 — On Apr 19, 2012

I guess that those order forms you fill out in catalogs are actually waybills. They have spaces to mark your shipping preferences, your order specifications, and all your personal information. They also must be sent to the shipper.

Every time one of my catalog orders arrives in the mail, a copy of this waybill is included in the box. The only time I really need it is if the item shipped does not match what I specified on the waybill. Then, I can have proof that the company got my order wrong, and since they also have a copy on file, they can clearly see where they made a mistake.

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