Bill of Lading – A Detailed Guide

The term ‘Bill of Lading‘ is one of the terms you may come across if you’re new to logistics.

The Bill of Lading is the most crucial shipping document in the logistics industry.

Here in this detailed guide, you will get to know the meaning, types, content, and importance of a bill of lading.

So let’s dive into the details.

What is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading is a document that comes with freight that indicates the shipper’s and carrier’s agreement and governs their relationship when items are transported. It describes the contents of the shipment and transfers ownership of the shipment to the person named on the document. Typically, that party is the entity to which the cargo is being delivered.

Types of Bill of Lading

There are the following types of bill of lading:

1. Clean Bill of Lading:

The Shipping Company or its agents issue a Clean Bill of Lading without making any declarations about the defective condition of the goods/packages taken on board/stuffed in containers.

2. Received for Shipment Bill of Lading:

A Received Bill of Lading is a document that a carrier issues as proof of receipt of goods for shipping. It is not an onboard bill of lading because it is issued prior to the vessel loading.

3. Through Bill of Lading:

Through Bills of Lading are more complicated than the majority of BOLS. The agreement authorizes the shipping carrier to transfer the cargo via multiple means of transportation or distribution sites. Depending on the destination, this bill includes both an inland and an ocean bill of lading.

4. Claused Bill of Lading:

When the cargo is damaged or the quantity is missing, a claused Bill of Lading is issued.

5. Container Bill of Lading:

A container bill of lading is a document that contains information on commodities that are transported from one port to another in a secure container or containers.

6. House Bill of Lading:

An Ocean Transport Intermediary freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company creates a House Bill of Lading. When the cargo is received, the document is issued to the suppliers as an acknowledgment of receipt of items that have been shipped. The Forwarders Bill of Lading is another name for this bill of lading.

7. Master Bill of Lading:

A Master Bill of Lading is a receipt of a transfer document prepared for shipping corporations by their carriers. The document provides the terms that must be followed when transporting freight, as well as the details of the consignor or shipper, the consignee, and the person in charge of the cargo.

8. Charter Party Bill of Lading:

A Charter Party Bill of Lading is a contract between a charterer and the owner of a vessel. The charterer of the vessel issues the document to the shipper for the items that are shipped on board the vessel.

9. Multimodal Transport Document/ Combined Transport Document:

A Multi-Modal Transport Document, also known as a Combined Transport Document, is a sort of Through Bill of Lading that involves at least two modes of transportation, either land or sea. The forms of conveyance, on the other hand, can range from freight boat to air.

10. Stale Bill of Lading:

After 21 days from the date of shipping or any other date/number of days specified in the documentary credit, a stale Bill of Lading is offered for negotiation.

11. Short-term/ Blank Back Bill of Lading:

When the specific terms and conditions of the carriage contract are not stated on the bill of lading’s body or its back, a short-term or blank back bill of lading is issued.

12. Straight Bill of Lading:

According to a straight bill of lading, the goods are assigned to a specific individual and are not negotiable independently of any existing equity. This indicates that an endorsee does not have any rights superior to those already held by the endorser. A non-negotiable bill of lading is another name for this document. However, this kind of lading is risky from a banker’s perspective.

13. Order Bill of Lading:

The bill that contains the words that enable negotiation is known as an order bill of lading. By utilizing phrases like “delivery to A Limited or to order or assigns,” this clarifies that the delivery is to be made in accordance with the consignee’s further instructions.

14. Bearer Bill of Lading:

A bearer bill of lading specifies that delivery will be made to the person holding the bill. These bills are either particularly drafted or orders that do not specify the consignee either in the bill’s original form or through a blank endorsement. Physical delivery of a bearer bill enables negotiation.

15. Surrender Bill of Lading:

When using a Surrender Bill of Lading, the bank releases papers upon receiving them from the negotiating bank. This is known as an “import documentation credit.” Prior to the draft’s maturity under the relative credit, the importer waits to pay the bank.

What is Included in a Bill of Lading?

The following contents are included in the bill of lading:

  • Account number or a purchase order
  • Date of shipment
  • Name and address of the shipper
  • Name and address of the recipient
  • Quantity of items shipped
  • A detailed description of the shipment
  • The declared value of the shipment of commodities
  • Shipping packaging – cartons, crates, pallets, and other shipping packaging
  • Note if the shipment contains a hazardous material as defined by the Department of Transportation, which is subject to additional regulations.
  • National motor freight classification (NMFC) for the goods being shipped
  • Actual shipping weight
  • Specifications for delivery or pickup

Both domestic and international shipments use the bill of lading.

Importance of Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is important due to the following reasons:

1. Proof of Shipment:

The bill of lading is the proof of the contract entered between the transporter and the shipper or cargo owner to carry out the transportation of the cargo in accordance with the contract between the buyer and the seller.

2. Receipt of Goods:

This document also serves as a receipt signed by the carrier to confirm that the goods correspond to the description on the papers and that they were received by the carrier in perfect condition.

3. Title Documentation:

Finally, the bill of lading acts as title documentation as it establishes who is responsible for freight charges and any customs duties, and transfers liability and responsibility for the goods from the seller to the buyer.

Final Words

After reading this detailed guide you must have known that it is essential to use a bill of lading to ensure that items are delivered safely and effectively, as well as to protect the shipper’s assets.

A skilled 3PL, or third-party logistics provider, is a great resource if you’re interested in learning the best ways to use a bill of lading.

You can contact AVG Logistics Limited for all your logistics needs and be assured for the best quality and economical services.

Also read:

How to Choose Best Logistics Company In India?

Why to Choose a Logistics Company with Multimodal Transport?

A Comprehensive Guide to Cold Chain Logistics

Warehouse Logistics – Meaning, Importance and Types


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Priti is a mompreneur, blogger and digital marketer. She is a co-founder of InfoTalks. Passionate about internet marketing and love to share the same in the form of blogs.

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