What is the difference between House B/L and Master B/L for logistics?

Today, I’ll talk about the difference between House B/L and Master B/L.

First of all, what are House B/L and Master B/L? They are surely B/L of securities in international transportation, but what is “House” and “Master” mean?

Let’s take a closer look!

Explained House B/L and Master B/L in Video

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What’s House and Master B/L?

In short, House B/L is issued by a forwarder and Master B/L is issued by a shipping line. You might be confused because you have never seen two B/L for one shipment.

But actually, a customer sees just only one type of B/L.

HBL and MBL difference

・House B/L(HBL) : Forwarder issues
・Master B/L(MBL): Shipping Line issues

House B/L example

First up is House B/L. This is the actual B/L format that we use in our company.

Point on House B/L

① Shipper Column:Actual Shipper Name & Address
② Cnee Colum:Actual Consigner Name & Address
③ B/L format:Forwarder’s B/L format
④ D/O release:Forwarder’s local partner or branch

This local company will issue Arrival Notice and D/O at the import side. If you don’t receive Arrival Notice as an importer, you can make an inquiry here.

Master B/L “with the House B/L”

At the same time that the forwarder issues House B/L, the shipping line issues Master B/L for the Forwarder. As of the above, if you are using House B/L, Master B/L describes it in this way.

Point on Master B/L with the House B/L

① Shipper Column:Export Forwarder Name & Address
② Cnee Colum:Import Forwarder Name & Address
③ B/L format:Shipping Line’s B/L format
④ D/O release:Shipping Line local branch or agent

Master B/L for Customer

Customers can also book forwarders while it is also possible to use the Master B/L issued by the shipping line.

When a forwarder does not have a local agent in the destination country, Or when a customer requests to use Master B/L, it will be issued.

Point on Master B/L for customer

① Shipper Column:Actual Shipper Name & Address
② Cnee Column:Actual Consignee Name & Address
B/L format:Shipping Line’s B/L format
④ D/O release:Shipping Line local branch or agent

Quick Summery

Let’s do a little organizing. In the case of Booking with House B/L, both House B/L and Master B/L are issued.

But a customer receives House B/L only, which is issued by a forwarder. In this case, Master B/L is processed by the forwarder side, so the customer will never see the Master.

And in the case of booking using Master B/L, A shipping line will issue the B/L for the customer. Forwarders are not involved in creation of B/L, or D/O at the destination side.

Advantage and Disadvantage of House B/L

Advantage of House B/L

・Fast issuance
・Quick to revise
・Flexible handling
・This speed also affects to issue the certificate of origin.

Disadvantage of Master B/L

・D/O fee will be charged at the destination

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The feature of using House B/L is the Speed and Flexible!

Advantage and Disadvantage of Master B/L


・There is no D/O fee at the destination.
※Only DOC fee about USD20.


・Take time to issue
・Take time to revise
→This taking time will affect to issue the certificate of origin.

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It will be the opposite of House B/L

Reason why take time to issue and revise B/L

As the disadvantages of Master B/L, it takes long time to issue and revise.

The shipping line has to issue B/L for all the containers on boarding the vessel. So, they have much more B/L to be issued.

Since some shipping lines prepare B/L in other countries, compared to a forwarder who is actually communicating with the customer, inevitably, it takes a lot of time.

The same thing will happen to revise B/L. If it’s a forwarder, the person in charge will revise B/L quickly but Shipping lines take times for revising, because the number of B/L issued is so large.


Since we explain B/L from a forwarder’s point of view so I tend to explain in terms of forwarders.

In logistics operations, speed and flexibility in case of trouble are essential. I think it’s very important.

House B/L will certainly incur costs on the import side, but it’s also true that there are plenty of benefits beyond that.

Balancing both cost and service, please choose the best B/L for your shipment.