What Is A Telex Release? Meaning and Differences Between Bill Of Lading

A Telex Release is a message sent by a cargo agent at a port of origin to a port at the final destination of a shipment. A Telex Release signals that the shipper has surrendered the Bill of Lading that was issued to them.


When undertaking a shipment, you’ll likely hear the term “bill of lading”. A Bill of Lading is a document issued by a Carrier (somebody who transports and delivers goods) to a Shipper (someone who supplies and/or owns the goods – also known as a Consignor), confirming goods were received in an acceptable condition and are ready to be shipped. It is a highly important document, forming evidence of a contract between a seller and a buyer as well as the receipt of the goods purchased.

When a bill of lading, normally the Original Bill of Lading, is surrendered at the port, the carrier will send a release authorisation to the point of origin. Doing this will secure the release of the cargo so that the consignee can access their goods. They can do this without the physical presentation of the bill of lading.

This release is known as a ‘Telex Release’. The word ‘telex’ comes from a historical phrase used in vintage shipping, ‘Telegraph Exchange Service’. Text messages used to be sent through the telegraph machine via the telegraph service. Today, telex messages are simply sent through email. The communication will simply say that the goods can be released to the consignee (the importer who purchased the goods). If there are any charges that have not been paid, the cargo will not be released until they are settled.

Telex Release Example

How It Works

The agent at the point of origin will  communicate with the agent at the destination port the following:

  • confirmation that the relevant original bills of lading have been surrendered and that cargo can be released;
  • confirmation that all charges have been paid;
  • complete details of the cargo, including the container number, the content, the bill of lading number and the time and place it was issued; and
  • the complete name and contact details of the consignee to whom the cargo is to be released.

Why send a telex release over the original bill of lading?

Sending a telex release has numerous advantages over using an original bill of lading. Some of the pros include:

  • the message is transmitted electronically with no possibility of the documents getting lost;
  • the message is sent quickly, whereas sending the physical original bill of lading can cause delays (resulting in detention or demurrage); and
  • it’s useful when dealing with shipments that have a short voyage with little time for documents to be couriered.

The main problem with relying on a Telex Release is the risk of e-mail fraud, which is outside the control of the consignee. E-mail fraud can result in cargo being incorrectly released. It is therefore important that your forwarder has robust cyber-protection systems and strategies in place.

Talk to ICE today about how your cargo and the benefits of Telex Release.

Request a Free Quote or call us on 1300 227 461

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