Master Airway Bills (MAWB) play a crucial role in international air freight to ensure the smooth flow of goods during customs clearance. This article will help you explore the MAWB concept to help you understand more about it.


You will learn the following:


Definition of Master Airway Bill

The Master Airway Bill (MAWB) is a transport document used in air shipments, issued and signed by the air cargo carrier or its agent, often on a pre-printed carrier’s airway bill format.

It serves as evidence of the terms and conditions of transporting goods over the carrier’s routes(s). It is required when multiple House Airway Bills (HAWBs) are consolidated into one shipment for transportation by air.


The Importance of Master Airway Bill

The Master Airway Bill holds great importance due to its multifaceted role, which includes:

  • Contractual Agreement for Cargo Transportation: Every Master Airway Bill functions as a comprehensive agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the cargo carriage. These contractual details are typically found on the reverse side of the bill.
  • Confirmation of Goods Receipt: Issuance of a Master Airway Bill by an air freight carrier acts as a legally recognised confirmation that the listed goods have been received. In disputes, this document can undergo legal scrutiny to resolve disagreements.
  • Record of Freight Charges: The Master Airway Bill also incorporates information about additional expenses incurred during the trade transaction. This data can serve as a freight bill with accompanying documents, facilitating accurate accounting.
  • Evidence for Cargo Insurance: As a legally binding document confirming goods reception, the Master Airway Bill can serve as proof of cargo receipt by the carrier. This document can be precious when insurance coverage for the cargo is required, especially at the supplier’s request.
  • Essential Customs Declaration: When clearing customs, the Master Airway Bill ranks among the most critical documents. It provides comprehensive information about air-transported freight, aiding in customs clearance.


Master Airway Bill VS House Airway Bill

The House Air Waybill (HAWB) is a transportation record utilised in airfreight consignments. Typically generated by a freight forwarder on a standard air waybill layout, the HAWB outlines the contractual details governing the shipment’s transportation. In cases where a neutral air waybill lacking pre-printed carrier information is employed, it can serve as the basis for issuing house air waybills.

The HAWB details the specific cargo, while the MAWB encompasses all HAWBs within a particular consignment. Therefore, it’s important to distinguish between the MAWB and the HAWB. Here are the differences between the MAWB and the HAWB:

Aspects Master Air Waybill (MAWB) House Air Waybill (HAWB)
Issuer Actual carrier (e.g., Korean Airlines, Emirates Airlines, etc.). Forwarder company (e.g., XYZ Forwarding Ltd, etc.).
Signatory Carrier or carrier’s agent. Forwarding company without carrier agency indication.
Form Pre-printed form of actual carrier’s air waybill. The natural form of an air waybill.
Regulatory Compliance Always subject to IATA Rules and international air conventions (e.g., Warsaw Convention, Hague Amendment, Montreal Convention, etc.). May or may not be subject to IATA Rules and international air conventions (e.g., Warsaw Convention, Hague Amendment, Montreal Convention, etc.).
Terms and Conditions States the carrier’s terms and conditions, providing the consignee with legal protection if goods are damaged or lost in transit. States the forwarding company’s terms and conditions, potentially leaving the consignee without legal protection if goods are damaged or lost in transit.
Mention of Waybill Numbers States only the MAWB number. States both MAWB and HAWB numbers.


The Format of Master Airway Bills

The key features and appearance details of the Master Airway Bill include:

  • The Master Airway Bill comes in eight distinctive colour combinations, with the first three copies being the originals. These combinations are provided for several parties, including:
    • The first original copy is green and is designated for the carrier agency.
    • The second original copy is pink and is intended for the consignee.
    • The third original copy, which is blue, is provided to the shipper.
    • The fourth copy is a receipt and delivery confirmation, and it is brown.
  • The remaining copies are all white.


4 Key Sections to Pay Attention to In MAWBs

The required data for Inclusion in every MAWB are listed below:

  1. Upper Left: Contains shipper, consignee, agent, departure and destination airports, carrier’s details, AWB number, and a booking and tracking code.
  2. Upper Right: Includes airline details, transportation and declared values of goods for customs.
  3. Centre: Lists shipment contents, item count, total weight, chargeable weight, charges, and goods details.
  4. Bottom: Provides space for additional costs, shipper’s or agent’s signature, and fields for the date, time, and location of execution.


Luwjistik’s Solutions in Helping LSPs with MAWB

Now that you have gained a comprehensive understanding of the Master Airway Bill (MAWB), its format, importance, and common mistakes to avoid, let’s delve into how Luwjistik can be of assistance in navigating the complexities of international air freight. Luwjistik offers valuable solutions for navigating the complexities of international air freight:

  • Pre-Alert Email: Provides clients with preliminary notifications about shipments, allowing consignees to make necessary preparations.
  • Tracking and Tracing: Enables clients to track and trace shipments, ensuring transparency and visibility throughout the shipping process.
  • Expert Support: Clients benefit from access to an expert support team with knowledge of MAWBs and freight operations and a comprehensive knowledge base focused on MAWB-related content.

To explore these strategic approaches and unlock your logistics potential, visit our website at or contact our support team at