Logistics Glossary

Bill of Lading

What Is the Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading (BoL) is a legally binding document between the carrier and shipper, and the consignee, who receives the goods. It contains information on the shipped goods, their origin, and their destination. It states the carriage terms and conditions. It’s issued after the goods have departed from the loading point, and you can use it as a shipment receipt once the goods have arrived at their destination. All the parties involved must sign this document.

Why Is the Bill of Lading Important?

A bill of lading is one of the many important documents in shipping and should be there with the goods during shipment. It contains all the details necessary for the carrier and the shipper, and it’s legally binding. You can also use it in litigation if needed, and hence you should ensure its accuracy. It acts as proof of shipment and its terms and conditions.

It ensures timely payment when the shipper holds the original BoL document until the consignee makes the payment. Once the shipper gets the payment, the consignee can access the goods using the original document.

Without BoL, the shipments can’t travel from one port to another. It acts as a proof of ownership and as a delivery confirmation too. It also holds significance during customs, insurance, and other financial matters.

Example of Bill of Lading

A bill of lading example is when the supplier presents a letter of credit (LoC) to the advising bank that sends it to the buyer’s bank, which must also include the BoL. Also, the buyer must show it to the supplier to receive the goods.

What Must Be Included in the Bill of Lading?

In the BoL, you must include details relevant to the contract, such as the parties’ details and the terms and conditions. Mention the full names and addresses of the shipper and the consignee. The document should contain the order reference number to identify the exact freight to be picked up and delivered. It should also contain instructions and the pickup day. You should also describe the shipment items by their type, dimensions, weight, and material. Write down the packaging type, too, if it’s cartons, pallets, drums, etc. Mention the NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) freight class as it can determine the cost of your shipment. If you have any hazardous materials, you must cite them clearly in the packaging and abide by the rules related to such materials.