What is the difference between a telex release and express release?

Telex release vs express release
Telex release vs express release

Often times exporters/importers will hear the terms telex release and express release. Both the terms are often used interchangeably. This is because both releases allow the consignee to take delivery of goods without producing the original bill of lading at the destination. Although the end result is the same, these are two very different terms and it is important to know the difference.

Telex release, as the name suggests, is a telex message that the origin agent or shipping line sends to its counter part at the destination to release the cargo without production of the original bill of lading. The origin agent will send this message only after the shipper has surrendered the original bill of lading to the origin agent. These days telex has been replaced by emails but the name has stuck on.

Express release, on the other hand means, that no original bill of lading was issued in the shipping instructions to the carrier. The destination agent can release the goods to consignee as soon as it arrives without production of any original bill of lading (since none was ever issued)

The key difference to note here is that in telex release, an original bill of lading is issued, printed and handed over to the shipper. However the shipper then surrenders the origin bill of lading at the origin itself. In case of express release bill of lading, no original B/Ls were requested or issued. Telex release require the shipper to pay full documentation charges for the original bill of lading as well as the surrender charges.

A telex release can be requested in few cases such as:

  • When the Original Bill of Lading cannot be mailed to the destination in time without incurring storage fees (short transit or delay in releasing the B/L at the origin).
  • When the payment for the cargo has already been secured and Original B/L may no longer be necessary to hold the title to the cargo.
  • To save on the mailing / courier cost. Although, agents at origin charge a surrender fee to surrender the original bill of lading and send a telex release.

An express release bill of lading can be requested when there is no requirement for an original Bill of Lading. Such bills of lading so released are called Sea Waybill. The reason for not needing original bill of lading could be for various reasons such as:

  • The payment for the cargo is already secured and no banks are involved in the transaction (for discounting LC etc)
  • The transaction is between trusted parties such as group companies / branch offices or there exists a long standing relationship between the buyer and supplier.
  • When the supplier doesn’t have enough time to release the original B/L and courier it to the destination without incurring storage or other charges. Since there is no original B/L to surrender, the supplier doesn’t have to pay any surrender fees at the origin to do an express release.


  1. Good illustration on the differences. btw, how about LOI? what is the difference vs Telex Release. Understand for Bulk Liquid shipment, usually we heard about LOI vs Telex Release.

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