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The most important document in air cargo transportation is the transportation contract, or air waybill (AWB). A cargo agent or airline draws up the contract by issuing an air waybill, the form of which is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Instructions given by the shipper, and air transportation regulations of the countries concerned are closely observed. The conditions of the contract are printed on the reserve side of the original air waybill.
The air waybill has several functions in international transportation:
- It confirms the transportation contract between the shipper, the carrier and the consignee.
- It confirms that goods have been accepted for transportation as air freight.
- It constitutes the shipper`s assurance that he or she has observed the conditions of the contract.
- It is an important document for customs, banking and other transactions. It is also a receipt for payment of air cargo.
- It serves as the shipper´s proof of ownership under Article 12 of the Warsaw Convention.
- It defines the limits of the carrier`s liability.
- In conveys to ailine personnel the shipper`s instructions concerning the routing and the handling during loading and storage.
Other essential documets in addition to the Air Waybill are the Shipper´s Declaration for Dangerous Goods and the Shipper´s Certification for Live Animals. Other documets that may be required in the country of origin or destination are a bill of sale, consular certificates, and export and import licenses. These can be attached to the Air Waybill.
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