Back-to-back bill of lading is when there is an NVOCC operator involved or when a Freight Forwarder wants to issue their own bill of lading. In such cases, the House Bill of Lading issued by the NVOCC/Freight Forwarder will be an EXACT replica of the Master Bill of Lading issued by the actual Shipping line. The only difference will be that the shipper, consignee and notify party details will be different in the HBL and MBL.
In the HBL the Shipper will usually be the actual shipper/exporter of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C) the Consignee will usually be the actual receiver/importer of the cargo (or as dictated by the L/C) the Notify could be the same as Consignee or any other party as dictated by the L/C).
In the MBL the Shipper will usually be the NVOCC operator or their agent or the Freight Forwarder. the Consignee will usually be the destination agent or counterpart or office of the NVOCC operator or the Freight Forwarder the Notify could be the same as Consignee or any other party. The rest of the details like vessel/voyage information, cargo description, number of containers, seal numbers, weight, measurements etc will all remain the same.
The contract of carriage is generally governed by the contract of carriage of the Master bill of lading which usually overrides the House Bill of Lading contract as far as insurance cover is concerned, so one has to be very careful to make sure that the vital details remain the same when issuing a HBL on a back-to-back MBL.