Understanding the DHL airway bill

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When shipping internationally, there are several things that you need to take note of, such as the size of the package, the weight of the package, and the destination. In addition to these factors, you also need to fill in the DHL Express air waybill accurately.

Whether you own an export business or simply want to send a care package to loved ones overseas, you are required to ship packages with the air waybill (AWB) attached. Understanding that this can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the international shipping process, DHL Express has prepared a guide to understanding its air waybill. This article strives to answer all the questions customers may have such as what is the DHL Express' air waybill and how to get or find the AWB. It will also cover useful information to take note of and the details needed to fill out this form, so that you can ensure your package arrives at its destination safely and on time.

Air waybill vs commercial invoice

In order to understand what the DHL Express' air waybill is, it is helpful to first clarify what it is not. One common mistake that people often make is confusing the air waybill with the commercial invoice. But there are several key differences between them.

Air waybill

Firstly, the air waybill is an essential document for international shipping. It has all the necessary instructions and details about your shipment that are required for safe transportation. The AWB’s main purpose is that it provides proof of ownership of the goods or products shipped and also contains information about the sender and recipient. Shipping companies typically stick the waybill onto the outside of the package, allowing customs officials to conveniently access and check key information regarding the shipment. Therefore, by filling in the details of your waybill correctly, you will help to ensure a seamless shipping journey for your shipment. 

Commercial invoice

On the other hand, a commercial invoice is an important export document that is a request for payment for goods sold internationally. Customs authorities require it for international customs clearance and it should contain details such as the destination, means of payment and trade terms. Using it, customs authorities determine the amount of duties, taxes and tariffs to be paid after the inspection of the invoice. Hence, if the information provided is clear and precise, there will be fewer delays during customs clearance.

What is the DHL Express air waybill and what details do I need to fill in?

DHL Express' air waybill is a vital document containing all the requisite information about your shipment such as the proof of ownership or recipient details needed for shipping to and from Australia. It will be used for customs clearance to ensure that everything matches the contents and the shipping invoice.

As a result, there are certain fields that shippers have to fill in online and cannot leave blank such as:

  • Shipper’s address and details with you or your company’s name, contact number, email address along with your full mailing address including the postal code

  • Receiver's address and details like the company or recipient’s name, phone number, email address, as well as their full mailing address including the postal code

  • Shipment details including the weight, dimensions and a description of the contents

  • Payer account number

Other crucial information to take into account when filling in the AWB include:

  • If shippers (senders) choose the Duties & Taxes Paid (DTP) payment option on the AWB, the shipper will bear the full costs of any import duties, taxes or other regulatory charges. If this option has not been selected on the AWB, Duties & Taxes Unpaid (DTU) remains the default option, and duties and taxes will be bourne by the consignee (receiver). Do indicate your choice clearly on the AWB to avoid mistakes and unforeseen payments for duties and taxes.

  • There is an expiration date for your air waybill and it will be invalid after that date.

  • Shippers are required to provide a sender/receiver Tax ID for most countries if your shipment is for a sale of goods, so do find out your sender/receiver Tax ID in advance.

To learn more about examples or formats of the DHL Express air waybill, head to our how to prepare your shipment page now.

Ensure a seamless shipping journey with DHL Express

The DHL Express air waybill is an important document for businesses shipping goods internationally. By understanding and filling in the information included on the bill correctly, you can ensure that your shipment arrives at its destination without any delays or unexpected fees. If you would like more information about how to prepare the DHL Express air waybill correctly through MyDHL+, our team of experts is here to help. Take advantage of our world-class shipping solutions and open a business account with DHL Express today.