HomeBill of LadingWhat is a back to back shipment..??

What is a back to back shipment..??

This was a question from one the readers of the blog.. Its usually known as a back to back bill of lading rather than shipment as the shipment is actually the same but the documentation will be different..

Well, back to back bill of lading is when there is an NVOCC operator involved or when a Freight Forwarder wants to issue their own bill of lading.. In such cases, the House Bill of Lading issued by the NVOCC/Freight Forwarder will be an EXACT replica of the Master Bill of Lading issued by the actual Shipping line.. The only difference will be that the shipper, consignee and notify party details will be different in the HBL and MBL..

In the HBL

  • the Shipper will usually be the actual shipper/exporter of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)
  • the Consignee will usually be the actual receiver/importer of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C)
  • the Notify could be the same as Consignee or any other party as dictated by the L/C)

In the MBL

  • the Shipper will usually be the NVOCC operator or their agent or the Freight Forwarder..
  • the Consignee will usually be the destination agent or counterpart or office of the NVOCC operator or the Freight Forwarder
  • the Notify could be the same as Consignee or any other party..

The rest of the details like vessel/voyage information, cargo description, number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements etc etc will all remain the same..

The contract of carriage is generally governed by the contract of carriage of the Master bill of lading which usually overrides the House Bill of Lading contract as far as insurance cover is concerned, so one has to be very careful to make sure that the vital details remain the same when issuing a HBL on a back to back MBL..

Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. hi if we are a freight forwarder but does not have an NVOCC license yet, does this means we cannot issue an HBL? we were approved for IFF (international freight forwarder and for domestic only but no NVOCC license yet.

  2. Hi,
    According to INCOTERMS 2010, while the rule is “Free on Board (FOB)”, The Freight Forwarder Documentation Fees is to be paid by the Buyer.
    But if we are a Forwarder or Forwarding Agent and we deal with the Shipper/Seller, the Seller is liable to pay the above mentioned charge to the Forwarding agents.

    Which one is the correct way ? 🙂

    • Hello Kim, these are two different terms altogether.. Back to Back relates to the issuance of House Bill of Lading against a Master Bill of Lading using exactly the same description of shipment except for the shipper/consignee/notify and all terms and conditions remaining same..

      Door to Door is a type of contract undertaken by the shipping line or freight forwarder and used in a Combined Transport Bill of Lading wherein the shipping line arranges transport of the cargo from the shipper’s warehouse at the Place of Origin till the consignee’s warehouse at the Final Destination..

    • Where three parties are involved in three different countries, for a shipment: The Shipper in one country, the Consignee in another and a trading firm in the third – from where the money is collected and disbursed to the Shipper (there being no L/C) and where certain documents such as B/L and Invoice can be ‘switched’, how can one ensure that under no circumstances must the consignee be known to either the Shipper or the trading firm?

  3. wow! i am a logistics student,graduating this year and you peolpe have thoght me a lot. thank you. now i ma just searching for a job,hope i find 1 soon to experience all this.


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