A freight carrier typically issues a telex release after all original copies of the bill of lading are surrendered. A telex release allows the carrier's agent to release the cargo at one port even though the shipper surrendered the original bill of lading at a different port. Some carriers require payment of all fees before the telex release is transmitted to the receiving agent. Shippers and forwarding agents can usually obtain the necessary information by contacting the carrier who issued the original bill of lading.

Key Takeaways

  • A bill of lading is a legal document between a carrier of goods and a shipper that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried.
  • A carrier of goods has the responsibility to obtain the original bill of lading before releasing cargo to the consignee or the recipient listed on the bill of lading.
  • A telex release for a bill of lading allows the carrier's agent to release the cargo at one port even though the shipper surrendered the original bill of lading at a different port.
  • Shippers can usually obtain a telex release by contacting the carrier that issued the original bill of lading, although some carriers may require fees or a letter of indemnity before issuing a telex release.

Telegraphic Transfer

Also known as a telegraphic transfer, a telex release is typically delivered by email and incurs additional expenses. Ideally, a telex release is quick and convenient, but issues with paperwork can cause delays and may increase costs. It is not a replacement for a bill of lading. Instead, a telex release is a convenient option for shippers who do not need original documents for their accounting or legal records.

Bill of Lading

A shipping company or forwarding agent can request a telex release in the original bill of lading instructions. When this occurs, the carrier can ship the freight without the original bill 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. The shipping company should provide confirmation of the original bill 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 request a telex release from the shipping company. This process is generally quite 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 will ensure the carrier's agent will not suffer any losses or damages for releasing the shipment of goods to the recipient prior to obtaining the original bill of lading.

Dangers of a Telex Release

The carrier has the responsibility to obtain 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 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 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 authorizing them to release shipments to others participating in the crime. Many shipping lines have procedures to prevent such fraud, such as receiving written confirmation from the shipper before releasing goods without an original bill of lading.