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Tracking your finances and managing cash flow is key to running a successful business.
A freight bill is an important document that helps you do just that. It outlines the details of a shipment and serves as proof of payment between the shipping company and the receiver.
In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of freight bills, including their definition, uses, examples, how to fill out one correctly, and the difference between freight bills and bills of lading.
What Is a Freight Bill?
A freight bill, or a freight invoice, is an invoice that documents the charges for transporting goods. It contains information about the shipment’s origin and destination, as well as details about the payment made by the shipper. The bill also outlines any additional fees associated with the shipment, such as fuel surcharge or delivery service fees.
Freight bills are used to verify that all shipping charges have been paid in full by both parties before goods are delivered or accepted by either party.
How is a Freight Bill Used?
Freight bills provide an accurate picture of your current transportation costs, which helps you make informed decisions when planning future shipments. When analyzing your freight bills, it’s important to look at both the total cost of each shipment as well as any additional charges associated with it—such as fuel surcharges, storage fees, or delivery charges—as these can add up quickly if not accounted for.
Additionally, looking at trends in past invoices can give you insight into areas where you might be able to save money in the future. This can include things like selecting carriers who offer lower rates than others or negotiating better fuel surcharge rates with your current carriers.
How to Fill Out a Freight Bill?
Filling out a freight bill is relatively straightforward and can be done either by hand or electronically. When filling out a freight bill, you must provide the following:
- Freight invoice number — a unique numerical code that identifies the freight invoice
- The progressive rotating order (PRO Number) — the code assigned to the shipment when it was booked, which identifies the shipment, order, and carrier that is part of the shipping contract
- Bill of Lading number — pairing the BOL number with the freight bill helps track and find information about the cargo
- Shipper and consignee information — including names, addresses, key registration numbers, and contact details
- Freight mode — the mode of transportation used for the shipment
- Shipment costs — amount to be paid by shipper or consignee for shipping services
- Additional charges, such as fuel surcharges, storage fees, delivery fees,
- Shipment specifics — such as an itemized list of goods being shipped, the total weight of the shipment, and HS codes
- Terms and conditions — clarifying the payment terms, additional charges, and any payment special arrangements
- Route details — the origin and destination for the shipment, as well as the details of all the carriers involved
The Difference Between Freight Bill vs. Bill of Lading
Freight bills and bills of lading are similar documents with distinctly different functions in the shipping process.
Both documents contain similar information, such as the product description, dimensions, quantities, and weight. This causes many shippers to confuse the two. However, while the freight bill is an invoice for payment of shipping services, a bill of lading is a contract between the carrier and shipper that outlines the delivery details of a shipment and serves as proof of ownership.
The freight bill is typically created and sent after the goods have been shipped, while the bill of lading must be signed by both parties before shipment to serve as evidence that goods have been accepted for carriage.
Moreover, the bill of lading is a legally binding contract that outlines the responsibilities of both parties, whereas the freight bill doesn't legally bind either party.
By understanding the difference between freight bills vs. bills of lading, businesses can be better equipped to protect their goods in transit and streamline their shipping processes.
Streamline Your Document Workflow
Freight bills offer invaluable insight into each shipment's cost breakdown while also helping businesses create more accurate shipping budgets to stay profitable in today's ever-evolving supply chain marketplaces.
Whether used for audit purposes or rate negotiations with carriers, understanding how these documents work and leveraging them effectively will ensure that businesses stay on top of the competition and remain financially secure.
Access our full suite of free shipping documents today, and streamline your document workflow.