What is a Delivery Order and who issues it..??

In many articles on this site, I have explained what a Bill of Lading is and its importance in the whole shipping cycle..

A bill of lading signifies the handing over of the cargo by the seller to the carrier for the movement of the cargo from Point A to Point B.. When the cargo reaches Point B, there needs to be a handover from the carrier to the cargo receiver..

This handover is accomplished by means of a document called a Delivery Order which is another important document in the shipping cycle and in an ideal cycle you can call it the climax of the cycle.. The parting of ways of the cargo and the carrier if you wish.. 🙂

Image for Delivery Order

A Delivery Order is a document issued by the carrier, in exchange for 


  1. One or all duly endorsed Original Bill(s) of Lading or duly authorised and issued Bank Guarantee (if original bill of lading is lost)
  2. A Telex Release confirmation from the loading port or principal confirming surrender of one or all Original bills of lading issued for the shipment
  3. A copy of a Sea waybill issued

releasing the cargo to the legal consignee mentioned in the bill of lading..

Only with this delivery order the consignee can clear the cargo with customs and take delivery of the cargo from the port, terminal, depot or wherever it is stored..

As mentioned in my post about Bill of Lading and duly discharged bills of lading, it is very important that the releasing agent issues the Delivery Order to the right entity as this document is the final frontier before the cargo is released and it cannot be reversed under normal circumstances..

 

Who issues a Delivery Order..??

The Delivery Order is issued by the carrier of the cargo directly if they have their own office at the destination or by their authorised destination agent on behalf of the main carrier..

Depending on the service type of the container which is indicated on the bill of lading, this may also be issued by the Groupage Operator for LCL/LCL cargoes..

In cases where a House Bill of Lading (HBL) has been issued by a Freight Forwarder, the Freight Forwarder’s counterpart agent at destination will collect his Original HBL and issue a Release Letter to the main carrier requesting that their Delivery Order be issued to the nominated consignee..

In most cases where HBL is issued, the Master Bill of Lading (MBL) will be either a Sea Waybill or will be Telex Released to facilitate easy release..

Based on this release letter, the main carrier will release the Delivery Order to the nominated consignee..

If the issued bill of lading is a negotiable bill of lading, the carrier will issue Delivery Order only once they have verified that the original bill of lading has been properly endorsed in order to ensure that the cargo is released to the correct party..

Below are the permutation and combination of consignee and the endorsements required on the negotiable bill of lading for that consignee..

Bill of Lading consigned to Endorsements Required on a Negotiable bill of lading
To Order, To Order of Shipper or To Order of ZYX
  • Shipper’s endorsement stating DELIVER TO THE ORDER OF “ZYX Client” (who could be the actual receiver) and
  • ZYX’s company stamp and sign in case he is taking the final delivery or
  • ZYX’s endorsement stating, DELIVER TO THE ORDER OF “ABC Client” (if the cargo has been further sold)..
To Order of XYZ Bank
  • Shipper’s endorsement stating DELIVER TO THE ORDER OF “XYZ BANK” and
  • XYZ bank’s endorsement stating, DELIVER TO THE ORDER OF “ZYX Client” (who could be the actual receiver) and
  • ZYX’s company stamp and sign in case he is taking the final delivery or
  • ZYX’s further endorsement stating, DELIVER TO THE ORDER OF “ABC Client” (if the cargo has been further sold)..

The issuance of the Delivery Order signifies the end of the shipment cycle for that shipment and once the Delivery Order has been issued, the bill of lading maybe considered as duly discharged and accomplished..

It may also be considered as the end of the contract between the carrier and the consignee for that particular shipment..

This is of course assuming that the consignee takes delivery of the cargo promptly after securing the Delivery Order..

Abandoned cargo is another story all on its own..


Article republished after critical updates

*** End of Article ***

52 thoughts on “What is a Delivery Order and who issues it..??”

  1. Please kindly explain the whole documents procedure in the whole shipping circle.
    Like when BL,Manifest,DO,RO work step by step.
    And I am confused with original BL,Sea waybill,Express BL and so on.

    Thanks and Regards,
    May

    Reply
  2. Hello I’m Customs Broker, MAERSK has a container in HOU for my client,and is requesting me a D.O. I already sent them the Customs Clearance form 7412 T.E. but MAERSK is not releasing the container until I give them a D.O. is not my responsibility send them a D.O. and now they are charging demurrages because they are waiting for the D.O.
    Please tell me who is responsible to file a D.O?
    What MAERSK is doing wrong?

    Reply
    • Hello,
      I have the same question and wants to know the legal remedies for a clearing agent who was issued with a delivery order but the consignee didn’t get the cargo from the port. Can an agent withdraw from such shipment by returning the delivery order to the shipping line?

  3. Hi Sir

    I have a case where shipping line / carrier issued a Delivery Order for a container to an appointed consignee clearing Agent who paid the destination charges. After few days the consignee changed his mind to clear the cargo through that Agent.The other Agent is not disclosed. The agent wrote to the shipping line to withdraw delivery order and the letter was received by the line. After 3 years the shipping line came back to the clearing aged demanding the return of longstanding empty container. The agent produced copy of the withdrawal letter which the shipping line but the line has rejected. Question. Is the clearing agent liable for the return of empty container to the shipping line.

    Reply
  4. Dear sir,

    kindly advise do forwarder face any issue to take release order from shipping liner when acutal CONSIGNEE is in blacklist by shipping line . (HBL Invovles) – do we have any article if we face such issue by liner

    Reply
  5. in a contract that is CIF, to get the delivery order the shipping line charges not only THC but also cost for maintenance charges, cleaning charges,off dock movement charges, ISPS charges, So who is responsible to bear these charges seller or buyer. Further these charges are randomly charged by shipping line. are these defined in Icoterms

    Reply
  6. Dear Hariesh, wonderful article. Thank you.

    Can you please name the international conventions in which Delivery Note is defined? What is the legislational background of DO?

    Reply
  7. I sold some goods to a customer on CIF price. When he clear goods from airport and he received invoice from his custom clearance agent it was mentioned Delivery Order Charges ……
    My customer is asking me to pay these charges and saying it is your responsibility to pay.

    Kindly advise, what are these charges for and who will pay? me or my customer?

    Reply
    • Dear Imran

      Incotem CIF clearly states that all overseas charges are to be for the seller and all local charges at destination is for the buyer, since DO are at destination, so as seller you are not involved

  8. Hi
    I have imported Container and it was released by customs and FDA and also by shipping line but had an issue with broker which they don’t want to issue DO until the gets released and shipment is demurrage so I asked my trucker to pickup Container with arrival notice which we have received from our freight forwarder does this is going to be legal move??? Because broker is threatening that will have problems by customs for this taking this step. Can you guide on immidiate basis will really appreciated.

    Reply
  9. I imported an item from china, and freight company’s agent on destination is asking for extra charges for issuing Delivery Order. While the original Bill of Lading i received states that , “Freight and Charges Payable By: Shipper”. What should be my course of action with the agent?

    Reply
  10. What is the difference between a DELIVERY ORDER and a DOMESTIC BILL OF LADING ? (trucking).

    Case: Intl. air shipment arrives and a DO is issued to the carrier to pick up the goods at the airline. The same carrier brings the goods to the final destination within the continental USA. Does the DO protect the issuing party as good as a BOL does and can be used instead of a domestic BOL ?

    And if not what are the considerations why we would possibly want to issue a DO and a BOL ?

    Reply
    • Hi Shantanand, as the name DAT suggests, Seller’s responsibility ends once cargo is DELIVERED AT TERMINAL.. IF the DO charges is applicable BEFORE this agreed point then Seller is responsible, IF the DO charges comes AFTER this agreed point then Buyer is responsible..

  11. This is a very useful information. But should also mention in all your articles related to doocumenrs, as to who keeps the original and whk keeps the copy of documents. It is very important to know which documents in original be kept by seller and which original be kept by the buyer. Who should get/keep copy and who should retain original/ copy of which documents

    Reply
  12. but how normally the value/ money of delivery order estimated. what are the determinants of the value and how the deal between seller and buyer reduces this value.

    Reply
    • Hi Fadi, am not clear on the question.. The delivery order itself doesn’t have any monetary value.. It is just a document authorising release of cargo to a certain entity and that cargo has value..

    • Hello Onja, no these are different because Delivery Order refers to import when the cargo is still in the container and container is still with the shipping line.. Container Release Order (different countries have different terminology) refers to empty container release for packing of export cargo.. Two different cycles..

  13. Hi i have issue regarding my shipment
    Shipping company from origin port
    Has put my D/O on hold
    And they showing reason that my shipping agent haven’t done payment regarding the shipment, I have copy of surrenderd B/L,
    Packing list and invoice of shipment
    What steps should I follow to clear my shipment as I don’t have D/O ?
    Thank you

    Reply
  14. What advantage is there for the importer to have a HBL issued AND MBL (by way of telex release), over the more simpler procedure of just having a MBL issued and then getting the DO after surrendering the original MBL?
    And, does it not mean that in lieu of the MBL, once a telex release is provided, the HBL is irrelevant?

    Reply
    • Hi Galely, there is no advantage or disadvantage for the importer as such whether a HBL is used or MBL is used.. As far as the importer is concerned they will only receive 1 bill of lading and that should be the HBL.. So in the case where there is a HBL, they are only concerned about this.. Even if the MBL is telex released, the original HBL will still need to be surrendered before they get the DO from the discharge port agent mentioned in the HBL..

  15. If a HBL is involved in the Carriage of goods and if the goods are consigned to a bank , it’s whose responsibility to ensure that the original BL has been endorsed by the bank before releasing the cargo to the purchaser. The named destination agent in the BL or the Carrier/their local agent or both ? .

    Reply
  16. In a LCL Container ( cargo) arrived at a Gateway Port and sent to a CFS , can the Liner company deny issuing a D.O. to a CHA and insist that D.O.s will be issued simultaneously only when all the CHA come together to claim their cargo packed in LCL. Is it correct and if not, what exactly is the practice / procedures adopted by any Shipping Lines to the CHA in issuing a D.O. .

    Reply
  17. I think you need to address a bit wider use of a delivery order with regard to the daisy chain of releases on inbound cargo.

    As the cargo enters port, it is under the bond and control of the carrier. The carrier will enforce collection of its monies and the bill of lading and Customs/Ag releases, etc., and will advise when its requirements and its other legal requirements it monitors have been met. But there are other parties in the line of control, so that the carrier notification simply passes the opportunity to release to others.

    If the carrier has a clear path to release to the consignee when the carriers requirements are met and no other responsibilities, they would be in a position to financially damage others who still have a financial or jurisdictionally valid claim to the goods.

    Around these digs, for instance, the carrier does not know what entity is next in the line of custody unless someone, such as the importer of record or his Customs Broker gives a “delivery order” to the ship line.

    Even though the goods are released by the line, the carrier is not free take an independent flier and ignore the interests others may have in the goods.

    The bill of lading endorsement is applicable to the carrier only. The carrier releases to the broker or to its own agent, not directly to the consignee.

    Reply
  18. Good afternoon, if a shipment has an ocean B/L that ends at the port (i.e. Los Angeles) but it will be delivered to an interior location (i.e. Kansas City), can this freight move on a delivery order to destination or does it need a domestic straight bill of lading?
    Thanks

    Reply
  19. If the B/L is consigned ”To Order” & importer name is mentioned in notify party column as 1st notify or 2nd notify & Bank name is mentioned as 2nd Notify party or say 1st Notify party. In this case if shipper has endorsed the B/L then still we need to get the endorsement of Bank mentioned in notify party to release the Delivery Order? As per my knowledge it is not required. Pls correct me if I am wrong.

    Reply
    • Hello Shankar, endorsement is required only dependent on what is shown in consignee column.. Notify party column has only the info of the people that need to be “notified”.. Nothing else.. So your understanding is correct..

  20. Kindly let me know, In import FCL in which HBL is involved and who will Endorse on HBL and who Will Endorse on MBL

    Reply
  21. Hi Gowri, If it is the actual consignee mentioned in the bill of lading, then he doesn’t need to.. If the consignee is asking you to release the DO to someone else, then he should give an authorisation letter on his original letter head stamped and signed..

    Reply
  22. Reading your article, let me add some details about current process within a world shipping carrier : Delivery order is issued when you get documentation (as you mentioned) but also after the carrier (or its agent) has checked that all invoices have been paid , that there is no pending charges. in some countries they also check that a empty return depot is defined and in some other (rare) cases that customs clearance has been performed (or at least Information systeme got the green light). Delivery order, for carrier, is a confirmation that client is ‘free’ of any duty and is entitle to get his container for import haulage.

    Reply
    • Hi Vincent, thanks for your comments with valid points, appreciated.. I would say that in most countries Delivery Order will be issued only after customs clearance has been done and proof of such clearance submitted to the shipping line.. It would be considered in contravention of the Customs Act if cargo is released to the consignee without it being cleared for release by Customs..

    • You’ re right, sorry. but in case of existing PCS, shipping line not always check customs clearance bu give his green ight (documentation, settlement) and then PCS collect customs green light to give final green light to customer. But most of the agencies are really checking on customer website directly.

  23. Hi Hariesh

    In case HBL, I think forwarder has to surrender OBL to carrier along with release letter requesting carrier to issue DO to a named consignee. Correct me if am wrong in my understanding

    Ramana Murthy R S V
    India

    Reply

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