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House Bill of Lading and Switch Bill of Lading – are they same..??

Image for question boyI have been asked a question whether House Bill of Lading and Switch Bill of Lading are the same..??

In the strictest of terms, NO.. Because House Bill of Lading is a format of how a bill of lading is issued, whereas Switch Bill of Lading is a bill of lading that has been switched – means the details have been amended from what it was initially issued as..

So could a House Bill of Lading be switched..??

Technically YES, it could be switched, subject to the conditions covered in my previous articles about What is a Switch Bill of Lading and when and why is it used..?? and Who can request shipping line to issue switch bill of lading..??, but remember a House Bill of Lading is issued by a Freight Forwarder or an NVOCC and they might not have offices where the bills are required to be switched..

So practically it might not work..

Has anyone had any experience with switching a House Bill of Lading and did it work well for you..??


  1. My company (Trader T) in Hong Kong sources goods from a manufacturer (M) in Japan and sells to a customer (C) in India.
    We do not wish to disclose to M where we are selling the goods, nor do we wish to disclose to C where we are sourcing the goods from. Our understanding was that the first BL would have: Consignor: M, Consignee: T, PoL: Japan, PoD: HK and the second BL would have Consignor: T, Consignee: C, PoL: HK and PoD: India.
    However, we are told by our agent that the PoD on both BLs (original and switch) will be India – we want the first BL to have PoD as HK else M comes to know that we are simply trading the goods, which will affect our other business with them. Please advise if we have to re-export? or if we should use switch BL only?

  2. Once we asked our agent in Dubai to issue a switch b/l as it was a triangle shipment where the middlesman did not want the actual manufacturer and the actual consginee meet. Switch b/l is practised mostly for triangle shipments.

  3. Yes, i have did a few switch hbl for my client especially on siwtchin the destination, whereby my local client in Malaysia and purchased the goods from India and needs to ship direct to his customer in Rotterdam.instead stopping at Port Klang.
    I as a NVOCC / freight forwarder have no problem on switching the HBL for my client as long with a legitimate reason.

    • but remember a House Bill of Lading is issued by a Freight Forwarder or an NVOCC and they might not have offices where the bills are required to be switched..

      I am not pretty clear with this line.

  4. good day
    they are different because hous bill of loading have not the same legal value like original bill of loading
    the house OBL is generally use for freight forwarder who have local representation at port of discharge
    but to pick up container to port terminal, you must have original obl fully endorsed

  5. It is very risky to issue Switch Bill of Lading as it requires material changes in the contents of original set of Bill of Lading. Therefore Switch Bill should not be issued under any circumstances without surrender of 1st sets of original Bill of Lading. Moreover, Shipping line may consider to provide this facility to a shipper/customer who has trading relationship with the shipping line for long & holds high reputation as a customer. Even then shipping line must obtain permission from Insurance Company before issuance of such Switch B/L in order to avoid any dispute with insurance company, if any claim arises. Although it is in practice in shipping trade, but should be used only in exceptional cases with necessary precautions & indemnity duly signed by shipper.

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