Paperwork plays an important role in our industry. Paper documents can get lost, handling them takes valuable time and they leave an ecological footprint. But with your help we can change this, by getting rid of the pouch, sending your documents directly to the final destination (e-Freight) and removing the need for a hardcopy Air Waybill by signing an EDI contract with IATA (e-AWB) and confirm this with an Activation Notice with Airfrance/KLM


"e-Freight aims to take the paper out of the air cargo supply chain and to replace it with cheaper, more accurate and more reliable electronic messaging.

"Good to know:
  • Take the paper out of air cargo
  • Cargo pouch documents (shipper docs)
  • Replace the paper documents by electronic data
  • Applicable in limited network (stations to be added by IATA)
  • Special handling codes
EAW: Full e-Freight shipment, no paper air waybill of shipment documents
EAP: Code not to be used anymore, if not EAW there is a pouch with paper documents to accompany the shipment


The e-AWB refers to a transportation contract between a shipper/forwarder and an airline.  With the e-AWB, there is no longer a need to print, handle or archive a paper AWB."
The contract obtains its legal status by an electronic combination of:
  • The FWB message sent by the forwarder to the airline;
  • The FSU/RCS message sent in return by the airline to the forwarder.

Good to know:
  • Forwarders who signed the e-AWB contract, do not have to hand-over a green airline-copy of the AWB for accounting purposes.
  • The e-AWB will be gradually implemented throughout our network as an addition to the current e-Freight process.
  • Shipments under an e-AWB contract can be recognized by the special handling code: ECC
  • Under the Single Process, a freight forwarder always sends electronic data to the airline and never delivers a paper AWB with the Cargo. The airline determines when a paper AWB needs to be produced based on requirements at destination or transit point and when needed, prints it on behalf of the freight forwarder using the exchanged electronic data."

What are the benefits

  • Lower costs: the total Airfreight Industry can save up US $ 4.9 billion per year
  • Faster supply chain transit times: the ability to send shipment documentation before the cargo itself can reduce the industry cycle times
  • Greater accuracy:  allowing electronic data entry at point of origin until RCS reduces delays to shipments due to inaccurate or inconsistent data entry. Electronic documents are less likely to be misplaced, so shipments will no longer be delayed because of missing documentation. This will improve the C2K quality.
  • Regulatory compliance: e-freight meets all international and local regulations relating to provision of electronic documents and data required by customs, civil aviation and other regulatory authorities.
  • Increased security:  electronic documents are only made available to parties who require them for the completion of a shipment
  • Environmentally friendly: e- Freight will eliminate more than 7,800 toned of paper documents. This will also lead to weight reduction on board, which in its turn leads to less CO2 emission. 

e-Freight & e-AWB explanations

e-AWB: The paper Airway bill is substituted by an electronic message. The FWB is the contract of carriage.
EDI: Electronic Data Interchange: transfer of structured data, by agreed message standards, from one computer system to another without human intervention
EDI agreement: contract between forwarder and airline or IATA where forwarder accepts conditions of carriage on all FWB send in the future. The EDI contract replaces the paper AWB that used to be the contract. Signed with an airline (bilateral) or with IATA (multilateral)
ECC: SHC entered in FWB automatically by airline noting that an EDI contract is signed meaning no paper (copy) of the AWB is required at acceptance of the shipment. ECC stands for Electronic Contract of Carriage
Single process : when a customer has signed an EDI agreement (and, in case of a multi-lateral signed by headoffice of forwarder) he accepts the activation notice we agree that regardless of the lane no paper (copy) of the AWB is needed anymore. Thus the airline takes care of paper documents needed by customs on non eligible lanes and the forwarder doesn't have to think about this.
ECP : SHC indicating that an EDI was signed but the lane where the shipment was travelling on was not eligible for e-freight and thus the airline printed the documents for customs. Electronic Contract Printed (IATA definition to be added)
EAW : All document are substituted by an electronic message, also the Airwaybill is electronic (eAWB). Thus no paper pouch is handed to the airline by the forwarder.
Transport documents: Documents mandatory available during flight. Today (MC99, MP4) allowed to have electronic alternatives
Shipper documents: Documents essential for forwarder distribution purposes and/or mandatory for customs clearance processes (is role of forwarder). Most of these documents have electronic alternatives, some are not allowed in electronic format. Traditionally carriers transport these documents free of charge (but this free of charge service started in the past when forwarders were acting as carrier representatives) but this situation could evolve in the near future.

How to go Paperless

Going paperless may sound difficult, but it's relatively easy. You probably already send your electronic AWB to us and pre-alert your counterpart at the receiving end with all shipment documents via e-mail or other means. Basically, you have already taken the first steps towards going paperless. The next steps are about signing the Multi Lateral Agreement  with IATA and a confirmation from the airline in the Activation Notice.

Multilateral EDI Agreement (e-AWB)

The Multi Lateral Agreement is a contract signed by the forwarder and IATA where the legal status of the FWB message (plus RCS) as a contract is captured. By signing the Multi Lateral Agreement, confirmed by an Activation Notice from Airfrance/KLM in agreement with the forwarder, the process of handing a paper copy of the AWB at export acceptance is not required anymore. Currently, a forwarder can deliver all cargo without AWB. With the "single process" in place the airline will print an AWB if needed at final destination. Shipments under a Multi Lateral Agreement confirmed by the Activation Notice can be identified by the SHC (special handling code): ECC.
This code is added by AFKL automatically and does not have to be inserted by the forwarder.

Activation notice

The Airline and Freight Forwarder have bilateral discussions on locations and start date. The Airline sends an " Activation Notice" to Freight Forwarder confirming the bilaterally decided location(s) and start date. When the Activation Notice is received by the forwarder the e-business can start from the mentioned start date.

Checklist for going paperless

  • Sign multi-lateral EDI agreement IATA (check if all of your branch offices are included)
  • Check messaging capabilities (needs to be FWB version 9 or higher)
  • Check if your IT system is capable of sending and receiving all electronic messages containing IATA IMP codes (FWB, FHL, FNA, RCS)
  • Check if your IT system is capable of inserting the EAW special handling code
  • Request AFKL Cargo to do a performance check on the FWB messages your IT system sends (we check on coverage and content of the messages)
  • Agree with your sales or CSO a start date and request AFKL Cargo to send an Activation notice. Advise AFKL Cargo for which origin stations it will be applicable
  • Check with any third party such as Delivery companies that transport the systems from the forwarder facilities to the Airline facilities.
  • Run a first test shipment and test

  • AFKL Cargo already signed the IATA multi-lateral agreement
  • AFKL Cargo to send activation notice to freight forwarder after the forwarder signed the multi-lateral agreement
  • AFKL Cargo is capable of sending and receiving IATA IMP codes
  • AFKL Cargo to check the quality of the FWB messages of the freight forwarders
  • AFKL Cargo to agree with ground handling agent to work paperless
  • AFKL Cargo to prepare and test first test shipment of freight forwarders



I have FWB version 6 capabilities. Can I start now?

No, to start you'll need FWB version 9 or up. This is due to the special handling code feature available from the versions 9 and up

Where do I have to insert in the FWB that my shipment is secure?

Security: ECSD and SPX
ECSD: Electronic Consignment Security Declaration
SPX: Special Handling Code to place in FWB to show that cargo is secure


SPH/SPX/EAW  security status
OCI/SE/ISS/RA/00123-45 RA No. and Party
///ED/1213  RA Expiration
///SM/AOM-KC  Screening Method
///SN/Mickey Mouse  Issued by
SD/01JUL131235  Issued on – Date and Time

Can we do AVI, DGR and other Special Cargo with e-AWB?

First step is only to replace master AWB, Special Cargo can be shipped under Single Process
FWB containing all necessary information (product code, Special Handling Code etc.) is still required
Shipments can never be EAW
Required documents (Shippers Declaration, CITES, etc.) in paper format must accompany shipment

Can I do e-AWB to every country?

Yes, some countries still require a paper AWB for customs reasons, the Single Process means that you can deliver all cargo without an AWB for all destinations and the carrier will print the AWB in plain paper when needed

Additional Information

  • Special regulations apply to shipments into the USA. Read the IATA e-Freight start-up information for shipping in or out the USA. Without a signed EDI agreement, an original copy of the air waybill needs to be presented to the ground handling agent.
  • External companies are available to help you send documents digitally to your counterpart or final customer at the destination. For example, you could consider the services of CargoNaut (Cargo Pouch) or Champ.
  • Should you need more information on the paperless options, please do not hesitate to contact your Customer Support.

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