Why do we need a SWB? Advantages over a 'normal' B/L
In modern commerce, especially if the consignee is known and there is no interest in transferring title to the goods carried, a normal B/L has the disadvantage that it is required to be physically produced by the consignee.
Race against time
It often happens that the administration and the process which a normal Bill of Lading has to undergo is complicated and takes a long time. This is especially true if banks and letters of credit (L/Cs) are involved. In many such circumstances, it is a fight against time to get the B/Ls in the consignee’s hands before the cargo arrives at its port of discharge. This is all the more apparent when the load and discharge ports are not far apart and voyage times are small- particularly in short sea trades in Europe and South East Asia.
A Sea Waybill is ideal for these kinds of trades. Goods can be delivered to a consignee or receiver without need of a physical document having to reach him. A SWB is even more ideal when banks or L/Cs are not involved, as the documentation is then even simpler, thus reducing workload of everyone involved be it the company, agent or the Master.
Use of modern technology
With the growth in communications’ technology, a SWB is designed to be accepted ‘paperless’, and can be sent by email or other such means. The original document need not be produced. Although there are still a few countries which will not permit goods to be discharged to a consignee without a physical document, their numbers are decreasing.
In practice, goods will be released to a consignee once he or she has produced proof of identity under a SWB.