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HAWB vs. MAWB — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Published on January 31, 2024
HAWB (House Air Waybill) is issued by a freight forwarder for individual shipments. MAWB (Master Air Waybill) is issued by the main carrier of goods and consolidates multiple shipments.
HAWB vs. MAWB — What's the Difference?

Difference Between HAWB and MAWB


Key Differences

HAWB (House Air Waybill) is a document issued by a freight forwarder when goods are sent via air. It represents a contract for an individual shipment, containing detailed information about the specific cargo and its destination. MAWB (Master Air Waybill), on the other hand, is issued by the main air carrier that transports the goods. It covers the entire carriage from the origin to the final destination and consolidates multiple shipments under a single bill.
HAWB is crucial for the consignee and the shipper as it provides the necessary details for tracking and receiving the individual shipment. It acts as a receipt of goods, a contract of carriage, and a document necessary for customs clearance. MAWB serves a similar purpose but at a broader level, encompassing all the goods carried under a single flight or consignment. It is used by airlines and major cargo agents and is pivotal for air carriers to manage and document the entire cargo under their responsibility.
Each HAWB corresponds to a single consignment and is unique to that consignment, with its own tracking number and specific details. It is essential for the handling and delivery of individual shipments. MAWB numbers are used to track the entire shipment carried by an airline or carrier. The MAWB number is linked to multiple HAWBs, each representing a part of the larger consignment.
In logistics, HAWB is particularly important for the consignee and customs agents to identify and process each specific shipment. It contains information such as the shipper's and consignee's names, detailed description of the goods, weight, and destination. MAWB is primarily used by airlines and large freight forwarders to document and control the entire shipment. It includes information about the total consignment, including all the individual HAWBs under it.
In a typical air freight transaction, HAWB is issued by the freight forwarder to their client, providing transparency and control over their specific shipment. MAWB is issued by the airline to the freight forwarder as a receipt for the entire cargo, indicating the freight forwarder's responsibility for all the individual shipments under it.

Comparison Chart

Issued By

Freight Forwarder
Main Air Carrier


Represents individual shipments
Consolidates multiple shipments


For tracking and receiving individual consignment
For airline to manage and document the entire cargo

Details Included

Specific shipment details (shipper, consignee, cargo description)
Overall consignment details (all HAWBs under it)


Crucial for consignee and customs clearance of each shipment
Essential for air carriers and large freight forwarders

Compare with Definitions


HAWB is a document for individual air freight shipments issued by freight forwarders.
The HAWB number allowed us to track our shipment from New York to Tokyo.


MAWB is used by airlines to document and manage entire air cargo.
The MAWB helped the airline keep track of all cargo on board.


HAWB acts as a receipt and contract for specific cargo in air transportation.
Upon receiving the HAWB, we confirmed the details of our cargo.


MAWB is pivotal for air carriers in air freight logistics.
The MAWB was crucial for the airline's cargo logistics planning.


HAWB contains detailed information about each separate air shipment.
The HAWB listed all the contents of our package precisely.


MAWB serves as a master receipt for all cargo under a single air consignment.
Our freight forwarder presented the MAWB as proof of shipment.


HAWB is unique to each air freight consignment with its own tracking number.
We used the HAWB number to locate our parcel in transit.


MAWB is a document issued by the main air carrier consolidating multiple air shipments.
The airline issued the MAWB for all the freight on the flight.


HAWB is essential for customs clearance of individual air freight consignments.
Customs requested the HAWB to process our shipment.


MAWB links to multiple HAWBs, representing the total air shipment.
Each HAWB under the MAWB was for a different consignee.

Common Curiosities

Is a HAWB necessary for customs?

Yes, a HAWB is essential for customs clearance of individual shipments.

Can a HAWB be used for tracking?

Yes, a HAWB provides a unique tracking number for each shipment.

What role does a MAWB play in air freight?

A MAWB serves as a master document for all cargo under a single air consignment.

Who issues a HAWB?

A HAWB is issued by freight forwarders.

What is a MAWB?

MAWB is a Master Air Waybill issued by the main air carrier consolidating multiple shipments.

What is a HAWB?

HAWB is a House Air Waybill issued by a freight forwarder for individual air freight shipments.

What information does a HAWB contain?

A HAWB contains details like shipper, consignee, cargo description, and weight.

How is a MAWB important for airlines?

MAWB is crucial for airlines to manage and document entire air cargo.

Can a HAWB exist without a MAWB?

In air freight handled by freight forwarders, a HAWB is usually linked to a MAWB.

Who issues a MAWB?

A MAWB is issued by the main air carrier or airline.

Does a MAWB link to HAWBs?

Yes, a MAWB links to multiple HAWBs under the same consignment.

Can consignees use MAWB for tracking?

Consignees generally use HAWB for tracking; MAWB is used by airlines and freight forwarders.

How does a HAWB differ from a MAWB in terms of detail?

HAWB contains specific shipment details, while MAWB covers broader consignment details.

Do all air shipments have both HAWB and MAWB?

Typically, yes, especially when handled by freight forwarders.

Is the MAWB number different from HAWB numbers?

Yes, the MAWB number is unique and different from individual HAWB numbers.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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