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Differences between an Original Bill of Lading, Telex Release, and Express Release

Shipping Documents
3 min read
Ocean FCL
Ocean LCL
Air Freight


There are many factors to think about when it comes to ocean freight shipping. Paperwork, container shipping rates and cargo insurance are some, to name a few. Within the category of paperwork, it’s important to get to know perhaps the most important one: The Bill of Lading.

There are many different variations of the Bill of Lading, including the Telex Release and Express Release, that you should be familiar with.

Difference between the Original Bill of Lading and Telex Release

When an import or export is carried out, the Bill of Lading can be in the form of a physical hard copy of the document known as the Original Bill of Lading or a virtual copy called the Telex Release.

If working with an Original Bill of Lading, this needs to be presented in order to be able to receive the merchandise at destination. In this case, the shipping costs of sending the document will have to be incurred. Whether this is paid by the importer or exporter will have to be negotiated between the two parties. If you’re dealing with the Telex Release, an Original Bill of Lading will still be generated. But presenting a copy of it will be enough to secure the release of your goods.

The exporter must send the the Bill of Lading to the importer indicating the choice to use either the Original Bill of Lading or the Telex Release. The final decision usually depends on how much the provider trusts that his clients will have made payment.

For a more detailed look at the Bill of Lading fields, you may give our guide on How to fill in a Bill of Lading a read. You may also want to check out our post on the differences between a house and master Bill of Lading.

How does a Telex Release work?

  • Pay the bill to a commercial provider
  • The provider informs the agent that the Bill of Lading has been released
  • The shipping line informs the agent that the merchandise can be withdrawn without the Bill of Lading
  • The consignee withdraws the merchandise without the original Bill of Lading


  • Expedites customs clearance
  • Fast and convenient
  • Eliminates the costs of shipping documentation

What is an Express Release?

The Express Release is another variation of the Bill of Lading. In this case, there is no original physical document of the Bill of Lading. In this case, you not only save the shipping costs, but also the derivatives of its generation. The Express Release is the fastest and cheapest variation of the Bill of Lading. However, it is only recommended for shippers and consignees with trusting relationships as the Express Release doesn’t offer as much protection for the shipper as the other options.


  • This is the fastest option. The merchandise can be released as soon as it arrives at the port.
  • Eliminates the costs of shipping documentation.
  • Eliminates the costs of generating the documentation.

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