UsChina Shipping, What is telex release?

You may have heard the term Telex Release several times in your day to day work especially in container shipping..

Let me explain what a Telex Release is..

In some instances a shipper or exporter may surrender one or all of the original bills of lading that have been issued to them at the loading port.

Based on this surrender, they will instruct the loading port agent to advise the discharge port agent that the cargo covered under the surrendered bills of lading may be released to the consignee shown on the bill of lading without presentation of any original bills of lading..

A telex release is simply a message conveying this instruction from the loading port agent to the discharge port agent..

The shipper or exporter would request a telex release under circumstances below:

The consignee at destination is a counterpart office of the shipper – example – if say DHL Global Forwarding is the shipper shown on the bill of lading and they are consigning some cargo to their office overseas, as there is no negotiation involved, they don’t require an original bill of lading at destination

the shipper did not process his documentation in time and the ship that is carrying his cargo has already reached or reaching the destination and the original bills will not reach the consignee in time for them to clear before the expiry of free days

Some cases, an NVOCC operator might request for a telex release from the line so that they can issue their house bill of lading to their customer

Many of the shippers/exporters that follow the principle of No.1 above use “Express Release” instead of a Telex Release..

Yes there is a difference between Telex Release and Express Release..

Technically a Telex Release can only be actioned when the bill of lading is issued as a Straight Bill of Lading and not as a Negotiable/Order Bill or Seaway Bill..

However, there are some lines that allow telex release on Negotiable/Order Bill of Lading based on surrender of the full set of Original Bills of Lading after verifying the endorsements on the bill of lading..

But why the name Telex Release..??

The name TELEX is the acronym for TELegraph EXchange service..

A message sent using the Telex machine is known as a Telex message..


A telex service could be used for real time one-on-one communication with someone on the other side of the world, or could be used to send a previously drafted message.

Telex was one of the most popular methods for communicating with ships while at sea and maybe considered as the precursor to email communication.

The release instruction from the POL to POD is called a Telex Release because in the past, such release instructions to the discharge port used to be sent using a Telex Machine..

In its heydays, a Telex machine was used to transmit more than just cargo release instructions.. Many people (like myself) may remember having used a telex machine for the transmission of regular messages to the ships, preparing and sending reports before, during and after a ship’s operation (Example : Arrival reports, Container Load Lists, Cargo operations progress reports, and TDRs (Terminal Departure Reports))

Although nowadays such OBL surrender information and release instructions are sent by email or updated in the shipping line’s online system, the name telex release stuck due to the long period that the telex machine was used for such purposes and the quick communication that was possible using Telex.

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