Telex Release – Electronic version of the bill of lading

Bill of Lading, or sea waybill, is one of the most important documents in international transport. On its basis, we can pick up the cargo at the destination port. In the previous article, we also described types of bills of lading and what records must contain such a document. When importing from China, people often use the Telex Release.

Telex Release

The release of the telex (sometimes referred to in contracts as the “Telex release”) is a confirmation issued by the carrier at the starting port to the destination port, allowing for issuing the cargo without sending the recipient a printed version of the original bill of lading. After the payment is settled, the shipper informs the carrier that he contacted his office at the port of destination of the goods. The container is issued to the recipient based on his disposal.


This is only possible if the bills of lading have not yet been printed and also issued to the exporter. If the bills of lading were printed and issued, they should be returned to the carrier/forwarder. Only then the disposal of Telex Release can be issued.

The name for this type of bill of lading comes from how documents were formerly sent.

Telex (Teleprinter Exchange Service) – a device for sending text via telephone lines, subscriber telegraph service, consisting of sending information in alphanumeric form. Currently, we can do that via email. Sometimes you can also meet with an updated confirmation in the internal shipping system.

Ways to free containers:

  • Three original Bill of Lading documents – personal or ordered on request are delivered to the shipowner and are paid
  • One original Bill of Lading document with the recipient’s stamp and signature is delivered to the shipowner and fees are paid
  • Telex Release – a company that exports goods provide original Bill of Lading documents to the shipowner, in the country of loading. The shipowner’s representative in the country of delivery receives confirmation from the shipowner’s branch in the loading country, i.e., telex release and charges are made
  • Sea Waybill – an express bill of lading, issued in one copy. It is not required to provide the original to the shipowner to release the container.

What is more…

Taking into account practical considerations, using the telex is faster and less complicated than sending the B/L to the recipient’s carrier, and then also sending it back to the agent at the place of delivery. Such a process may also delay the delivery of the load, which is why in some situations we decide to use Telex Release.

Examples of situations where telex is useful:

  1. You agreed with the supplier that you would pay for the goods only after sending it (B/L is a receipt).
  2. The supplier wants to retain ownership of the goods until he receives payment.
  3. You do not intend to sell goods to a third party when it is still in transit (i.e., you also want to be present in person when accepting a delivery).

Telex Release

In practice, the sender will return the original bill of lading to the carrier at the port of loading and will also instruct the forwarder to issue a telex. Later, the forwarder’s agent at the port of loading will inform the agent at the unloading port that the original B/L has been received and the cargo that is covered by it can be issued to the designated consignee without submitting the original B/L.

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