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What is an OBL, Telex Release, and Express Release?

This article will walk through the differences between an Original Bill of Lading (OBL), a Telex Release, and an Express Release. 

Original Bill of Lading (OBL)

An Original Bill of Lading (OBL) is a document that serves as proof of ownership of the importer’s goods. 

The OBL is typically issued by the origin forwarder on the origin manufacturer’s behalf. Once the origin manufacturer receives payment for the goods the importer purchased, the shipper arranges for release. 

Imported goods are not released unless the original bill of lading is presented or, in place of the physical OBL, a Telex or Express release is arranged.

Telex Release

A Telex Release typically happens for the release of cargo when the original bill of lading has been surrendered elsewhere. It’s typically an email and stamped Telex on the House Bill of Lading (HBL).This type of release tells the origin and destination forwarders that the cargo can be released to the consignee without the original HBL being presented.

Express Release

An Express Release means that the original HBL was never issued or printed. In these cases, the shipper has typically fully released the goods from the start and they are not pending any type of payment for the goods.


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