Table of Contents
Table of Contents

How Can I Obtain a Telex Release for a Bill of Lading?

Sellers (or shippers) of goods can request that the freight carrier transporting their goods issue an emailed telex release to the buyer (or recipient) of the goods.

Historically, a freight carrier issued a telex release after the original bill of lading (BL) was received at the port of destination. Though not yet universally used, a telex release sent via email can replace the need to obtain the original BL in order to release shipped goods to the recipient.

A telex release allows the carrier's agent to release the cargo at one port even though the original bill of lading may be at a different port. Some carriers require payment of all fees before the telex release is transmitted to the recipient or their agent. They may even require some form of indemnification.

Key Takeaways

  • Shippers can request a telex release from the carrier that issues their original bill of lading.
  • A bill of lading is a legal document between the shipper of goods and the carrier (transporter) of those goods.
  • It provides proof of ownership and details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried.
  • Typically, a carrier of goods must obtain the original bill of lading before releasing cargo to the consignee (or recipient) listed on the bill of lading.
  • An emailed telex release for a bill of lading allows the carrier's agent to release the cargo to the recipient or recipient's agent without having the physical bill of lading.

Telex Release

Also known as a telegraphic transfer, a telex release is delivered by email to the recipient of goods shipped. A telex release can be a convenience because the original bill of lading isn't required for release of the goods to the recipient. It has been surrendered by the sender to the carrier.

The recipient of the goods presents the telex release to customs officials at the port of destination. The identity of the recipient must match the identity of the party on the telex release in order for the goods to be released to the recipient.

A carrier that incorrectly words a telex release can cause delays and may increase costs if goods need to be stored temporarily.

While a telex release is not a replacement for a bill of lading, it is a convenient option for shippers who do not need original documents for their accounting or legal records.

Bill of Lading

The seller or shipper of goods provides the carrier or transport company with the information on a bill of lading. They are also the party that requests that a telex release be sent by the carrier to the buyer or recipient of the goods.

When the shipper requests a telex release, the carrier can release the freight without the original bill of lading and minimize the risk of lost or stolen documents. A shipment that requires third-party transportation services may be delayed if the original papers are not available. For a telex release, the shipping company should provide confirmation of the original bill of lading along with details of the freight contents.

In some cases, a telex release may be requested because of a problem with the original bill of lading. If the documents are lost, stolen, or otherwise inaccessible, the shipper must then request a telex release from the carrier.

This process can be time consuming and often results in additional charges for freight storage. The carrier sends the telex release when the original bill of lading is located or when a letter of indemnity from the shipper is provided.

A letter of indemnity ensures that the carrier or carrier's agent will suffer no losses or damages for releasing the shipment of goods to the recipient prior to obtaining the original bill of lading.

Risks of a Telex Release

Usually, the carrier's agent at the port of destination is responsible for obtaining the original bill of lading before releasing the cargo to the consignee or the recipient listed on the bill of lading.

To prevent asset theft, the bill of lading should accompany the cargo throughout its transit. Thus, the bill of lading acts as part of a carrier's internal controls to ensure that it delivers the goods to the correct recipient.

However, there are times when the shipper may surrender the original bill of lading to the carrier's agent in a port other than the discharge port. In this case, the third-country receiving agent must send the telex release to the discharge port agent confirming that they have the original bill of lading.

The telex release will instruct the agent at the discharge port to release the cargo to the specified consignee on the bill of lading or another party authorized by the shipper.

The telex release must be worded carefully so that both parties understand the instructions and fulfill them correctly. In international trade, there have been documented instances where language barriers or careless communications have led to the release of valuable goods to unauthorized recipients.

Criminals commit wire fraud by sending fake telex release emails to discharge agents that authorize them to release shipments to others participating in the crime. Many shipping lines have procedures in place to prevent such fraud, such as receiving written confirmation from the shipper before releasing goods without an original bill of lading.

Why Aren't Telex Releases Used Everywhere?

Some ports may not use telex releases because they don't have the digital capability to do so. They may not have dependable internet connections. In fact, internet connections may be non-existent.

What Is a Telex Release?

Also known as a release bill of lading, telex bill of lading, and telegraphic transfer, a telex release is an email message containing bill of lading information that allows a carrier to release goods to a designated recipient without having the physical, original bill of lading in hand.

What Is Meant by the Word Telex?

Telex is short for telegraphic exchange. Before the advent of more modern electronic communications (including the telephone), the telegraph was the equipment used to send messages to ships at sea and across great distances on land. The exchange was the physical location at which messages were received (or sent) and then delivered by hand to recipients.