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HomeBill of LadingWhat is a telex release in global shipping..??

What is a telex release in global shipping..??

You may have heard the term Telex Release several times in your day-to-day work, especially in container shipping..

You may have even seen many sites on the internet referring to “telex release bill of lading” as a type of bill of lading.. While this is totally incorrect and a discussion for another day, the focus of today’s article will be what is a telex release..??

What is a telex release..??

As you know, a bill of lading is the most important transport document in global shipping.. performing 3 key functions :

  1. Evidence of Contract of Carriage
  2. Receipt of Goods
  3. Document of Title to the goods

In cases where originals of the bill of lading have been physically issued (for paper bills of lading), the “consignee” reflected on the bill of lading is expected to surrender at least 1 or all of the original bills of lading that have been issued to them at the discharge port to secure the release of the cargo..

In some cases, this surrender may also be done by the shipper at the port of loading to the shipping line or their agent..

Based on this surrender, the load port office of the shipping line will advise their discharge port agent that “x” number of originals have been surrendered by the shipper and that cargo covered under the surrendered bills of lading may be released to the consignee shown on the bill of lading (or their endorsed parties) without the presentation of any original bills of lading..

This simple message conveying this instruction from the load port agent to the discharge port agent is also known as Telex Release..

When is a Telex Release used..??

A telex release would be requested under below circumstances :

  1. The consignee at the destination is a counterpart office of the shipper – For example – if Acme Agri Products is the shipper shown on the bill of lading and they are consigning some cargo to their office overseas, as there is no negotiation involved, they don’t require an original bill of lading at destination..
  2. The shipper could not process their documentation in time and the ship that is carrying the cargo has already reached or is en route to the destination and the original bills will not reach the consignee in time for them to clear before the expiry of free days..
  3. In some cases, an NVOCC operator might request for a telex release from the line as they might have issued their house bill of lading to their customer..

Many of the shippers/exporters that follow the No.1 above, do also use “Express Release” instead of a Telex Release..

Yes, there is a difference between Telex Release and Express Release..

Technically a Telex Release can only be actioned when the bill of lading is issued as a Straight Bill of Lading and not as a Negotiable/Order Bill or Sea Waybill.. This is because, with a negotiable bill of lading, there may not be a clear indication of the negotiable parties involved or who the bill of lading can be further endorsed to..

However, some shipping lines allow telex release on Negotiable/Order Bill of Lading if the full set of originals issued for that shipment is surrendered, after verifying the endorsements on the bill of lading..

But why the name Telex Release..??

Telex Machine

The name TELEX is the acronym for TELegraph EXchange service..

The machine shown in the picture is a Telex Machine, which is a teleprinter that can send and receive text-based messages using the telegraph service..

A message sent using the Telex machine is known as a Telex message..

A telex service could be used for real-time one-on-one communication with someone on the other side of the world or could be used to send a previously drafted message..

Telex was one of the most popular methods for communicating with ships while at sea and may be considered the precursor to email communication..

The release instruction from the POL to POD is called a Telex Release because in the past, such release instructions to the discharge port used to be sent using a Telex Machine..

In its heydays, a Telex machine was used to transmit more than just cargo release instructions..

Many vintage shipping people (like myself) may remember having used a telex machine for the transmission of regular messages to the ships such as preparing and sending reports before, during, and after a ship’s operation (Arrival reports, Container Load Lists, Cargo operations progress reports, and TDRs (Terminal Departure Reports))..

Although nowadays such OBL surrender information and release instructions are sent by email or updated in the shipping line’s online system the name telex release stuck due to the long period that the telex machine was used for such purposes and the quick communication that was possible using Telex..

Fascinating isn’t it.. 🙂

This post has been republished with some updated content..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
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. Hello Hariesh,

    I hope you still find the time to read the comments, especially since the pandemic hit, more and more parties are beginning to use telex releases. I’d also like to thank you as your articles have definitely helped us in regards to telex releases.

    I would like to ask a question regarding the risks and mitigation for banks when it comes to dealing with telex releases.

    So a client of ours who we financed with a letter of credit and a bill of lading as its document of transport and us (the bank) as the consignee have requested to release their cargo using a telex release. After further discussions, we ultimately decided to allow them to release their cargo with a telex release provided they submit a letter of indemnity and a buyer’s acceptance to us, but they have notified us that they will be using more telex releases as their document of transport in the future.

    So my question is; What are the risks that banks face when financing clients who use telex releases? And what mitigation options do banks have (other than a letter of indemnity) when it comes to financing clients who uses telex releases?

    Thank you.

  2. Urgent Assistant
    The Exporter collected the goods payment after that he submitted the OBL to shipping agent in Loading port Shipping agent in Loading port issued the Telex Released (According to the Importer request)
    The Telex Release received by the Shipping agent in Discharging port after the vessel arrived to Discharging port we had surprised that the shipper stopped the Telex release claiming that the importer requested to change the consignee details (Which is not true)
    The Shipping agent in Discharging Port refused to issue Delivery Order to clear the goods from the port
    My Question is
    Can the shipper (exporter) stop the telex release after they have requested for it through the shipping agent in Loading port?

    How can we save our rights in this case and receive our goods when the shipping agent refuse to issue Delivery Order for us ?

  3. what if you have a customer in USA who buys FOB from different suppliers and is your client for years… he recently buys from a totally new supplier in Ningbo and you book the container as usual. 14 days later the shipment arrived to port and consignee is on credit terms net 15 credit limit $50k never had issue collecting any invoices and this one morning you get an email from your overseas office who the booking agent and it says the shipper want to hold the cargo because did not get paid yet..

    my point is i have not known this shipper or had a conversation nor relationship or is even profiting or selling any service to them. the client been settling all ocean freight, duties, charges supporting me.. why should i risk damaging or losing my account or risk any unpleasant words from myclient?? like why does everything have to stop because shipper cant wait or is nervous feeling for the balance of 70% of the goods purchased.
    they were not nervous when the buyer flew to their factory to see the goods and make the purchase..

    why should i wait or apply a hold for a shipper that i make zero dollars from and never will make any profit and take into care about his balance remaining to be collected from the goods?? shipper isnt worried about my balance or if not releasing the goods for another 2-3 days will upset the client per say.

    doesnt make alot of sense because that can irritate your client who is the one supporting you with ocean freight and risk jeorpardizing or irritiating your client because of the shippers 21k balance?? which everyone can presume he will get paid from the importer within few days.. the client nominated the forwarder to arrange his goods, clear customs and deliver for a price agreed upon and my duty is near complete, and i should halt for a stupid shipper orders that i again make zero dollars from and have no relations or are they providing our office any CIF shipper routed business.

    why should any one care unless the shipper is the party who seek our service? and a telex release fee of $65 profit? which most shippers dont even want to pay. all this for the shipper does not make alot of sense.
    how many missed payments have any factory in China received from any US importer?? they pay their goods…if they felt any doubt shipper should of made other buying terms before the forwarder was nominated.

    im just saying we are forwarders paid to ship, clear and deliver the goods. NOT to baby sit shippers bank account which is not even the party who paid the freight.. smh..

  4. Good day, Is it possible to ask tlx release if surrender 3/3 original of negotiable b/l( To order) with shipper endorsement and written letter request release cago to another one who not being on b/l? Pls suggest.tks

    • If the bill is TO ORDER and the shipper has endorsed the bill, you can surrender all 3 bills to the POL agent and ask them to advise their POD agent to release cargo to the party endorsed by the shipper.. However, each line may have their own policy which pls check..

  5. Dear Mr. Hareish,

    Great article. I want to ask you about this kind of case. We have a supplier of the goods(also shipper and exporter), freight forwarder in exporter’s country, freight forwarder in importer’s country and a buyer. Assume everything was settled, container is shipped and on it’s way. Forwarder in importer’s country paid invoice sent by Freight forwarder in exporter’s country. After that Forwarder’s in exporter’s country disappeared, they won’t take phone or answer mails(let’s say it was a fraud). Meanwhile container arrives, but is not released. Can this kind of problem be solved?

    • Thank you for the reply Mr Hariesh. What I am interested in is in this case can Forwarder in importer’s country somehow take container for example if he explains situation to shipping line and pays the cost of freight.

    • Hi Beqa, shipping line/their agent will and should always follow the right documentation procedure when it comes to releasing goods and cannot just follow an “explanation”.. Proper documentary process must be followed..

  6. I did not receive original bill to present at port of discharge. I was asked to present a telex bill from consignor. What should i do now?

    • Hi Harold, the line/their agent at destination should also have received the telex release instruction.. They should be able to release the cargo.. Have they mentioned any problem..??

  7. Buyer has made all the payments needed for FOB dispatch. Is it possible that the seller use telex release and also send the originals of HBL by parcel shippment?

  8. GOOD DAY,
    is it possible to send TLR went the OBL is received for shipment .
    shipment is ready , full on the terminal awaiting vessel .

  9. I am about to receive a car in Lagos nigeria, I have paid $25 for telex release in new york to grimaldi. Do I. Still need to pay for telex release in lagos? My clearing agent is trying to make. Me believe that i still have to pay for it in lagos.

  10. Hello.
    I need to know i m an there any document or notice verification letter priorv to telex release.
    I paid 50% deposit for my goods ..the bal the exporter want to telex release the good but i need to pay in full….
    I dont hv any document to hold as i will bepaying the exporter and without anything to hold on.pls advice

  11. Thank you for your explanation. If the shipper and consignee has agreed on a Telex released house bill of lading, but the forwarders charges are outstanding, is the forwarder still obligated to issue the Telex release? After all, the house bill should also protect the forwarder in instances like this?. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Irrespective of agreement between shipper and consignee, whoever has issued the bill of lading, whether line or forwarder, will issue telex release only once all their charges has been settled.. No one will release bill of lading without collecting all their payments..

    • Hello Chase, that would depend on whether it is issued as a Negotiable/To Order Bill of if it is issued as a Seaway Bill.. If Negotiable/To Order Bill, it is required physically at POD.. If it is Seaway Bill, you can email copy.. Why don’t you download my Beginners Guide to Importing links to which you can find on the site..

  12. Dear Mr Hariesh
    if the shipment is back to back shipment ,has mbl & Hbl
    and there is no time to courier hb/l to client so what is solution

    is there case such as telex release for hb/l ?
    also the b/l issue at port of loading only or can issue at port of discharge ?



  13. There was a time in my life (giving my age away) when almost all communications between lawyers were by way of telex, at least, that was the practice in London when I worked there. The language used was often abbreviated to save on space and cost (like telegrams). If you have ever communicated with Mr Peter Newton of Seaboard in Cape Town, although he uses email his language is still telex-speak e.g. “XXXX is …. xxxxxxx biz …. … strge n ctr packing operation …… some yrs ago b4 ” (Details redacted to protect confidentiality of the communication.)

  14. Hello,
    I received 3 original copies of Bill of Lading from shipping agent, and I courier 2 of them to the consignee. Unfortunately, consignee misplace the two original Bill of Lading.
    Can I surrender the only one original Bill of Lading, in my hand, to the shipping agent at loading port and ask for the telex release?

    • Hi Siaw, There are some procedures you need to follow with shipping agent. First inform to them that you customer were missed the OBL’s. I hope that shipping agent will require Written letter from customer to issue new Original bills or to accept Telex Release and might be penalty will involved. Shipping agency HO will involve and advise you for more info. Hope you understand.

    • Hello Nirmala Dhanapal,
      Thank you and from what I understand, should any one of the three original Bill of Lading surrendered to the shipping agent, the balance of two is considered void.
      Therefore, the shipping agent at port of loading should able to do a telex release when receiving one original Bill of Lading from me.

  15. hello, I`m as a consignee and there are two parties with me (shipper and the shipping line) can you tell me which way is better? telex release or release by presenting the original Bill, and which one does cost price than the other according to the consignee

    • Hello Ahmed, sorry I am not clear what you mean by there are two parties with me.. Telex release is also a release by presenting the original bill of lading although you might be surrendering the original bill at the load port at another port.. Telex Release issuance attracts an additional cost as the shipping line will charge you for receiving the original bill of lading and doing the administrative work of sending a release to the discharge port to release the cargo..

    • Hi Ahmed, I would suggest telex Release is good option. However, check with your shipping line whether Telex charges are applicable or not. If no charge, then surrender the originals at Origin and get confirmation mail from Origin Agency.

  16. Hi, I need some information. I am being told that Telex release could not be done on Master bill of lading it is on applicable on House bill of lading. Kindly clarify is it right info. Need ur kind response

  17. Its possible… But usually Line will collect the original BL which they issued earlier before releasing the Telex release.

    If the customer genuine and trustworthy no problem.. else collect original before u issuing telex to be in safe side.

  18. What is the recourse if the shipping company does not send a telex release, when you have paid them in full for shipping. who is responsible for storage fees at destination if the freight company delays with telex release

  19. Hi Muhammad, once OBL has been taken and couriered then its not possible to issue a Telex Release.. In order to secure a Telex Release you have to surrender all original bills of lading that have been issued..

    • telex release usually done upon payment, once the payment done to line at load port.. they will send telex msg to their dest agent.. Yon can also ask copy of surrender msg fyr.

  20. guys i have some question to be clear.
    1.why bank are involved in this.
    2.what is freight collect on master bill of leading.
    3.what is freight prepaid on house bill of leading.
    Please clear it out i am confuse in this..

  21. Thanks for above information
    I have few queries regarding this

    1. For this telex service is shipping line charging some extra charges to Shipper or Consignee
    2. (not a bank or To Order)..may i know why this provision is there

  22. Dear Hariesh,
    Bills made out ‘to order’ can be telex released or the new term ‘e-mail release, provided the S/ has endorsed the full set of original Bills of Lading.

    • Can a shipper stop the telex release after ordering the telex release for any reason ? and if yes what are the consequences.

    • Hi Albert,
      Advantage:- If ur shipment moves to short transit destination and you dont agree any free days from line at destination… In this case ur consignee has to take DO on or b4 the date of arrival of container box and return the box at earliest to avoid heavy demurrage and detention charges at destination. For this telex release highly useful
      Believe there is no disadvantages in express release

    • Hi Varun, I wouldn’t say that there are no disadvantages with an Express Release.. Each bill of lading should be issued basis the requirement of the shipper, consignee and depending on the trade and the sale agreement, so we cannot say one bill is more advantageous than the other.. We could say that one type of bill of lading will be more suitable than the other for a particular shipment..


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