What is a Bill of Lading (BoL)?
Bill of Lading is a legal document that is issued by the carrier transporting the goods from the origin to the destination. It indicates the transfer of ownership from the shipper to the carrier. The bill of lading will detail what is being shipped, type and the destination of the goods. In addition, a Bill of Lading will also contain terms and conditions of shipping which can include information, but not limited to, Incoterms and who is paying for freight. A Bill of Lading is not a contract in itself and is just a documentation that is an evidence of one.
When is Bill of Lading (BoL) issued?
A Bill of Lading is issued when the goods are loaded on to the carrier vessel and is given to the shipper or shipper’s forwarding agent.
What is Bill of Lading used for?
A Bill of Lading has many purposes:
- It is a receipt for the shipped products, by the carrier, which the shipper can show to the buyer to receive payment
- It is a document of title to the goods mentioned in the bill of lading and that represents ownership
- It contains the agreed terms and conditions for the transportation of goods which includes information such as incoterms, freight charge terms and special instructions
Why is BIll of Lading important?
- Given Bill of Lading is a legally binding document, all parties including shipper, carrier and forwarding agent ensure that it is accurate.
- It can be used in litigation among different parties if the need arises
- Depending on the payment terms, transfer of Bill of Lading to the buyer initiates the payment process. Hence, accurate creation and timely release of the Bill of Lading is important for the seller
Different Types of Bill of Lading
- Inland bill of lading
- Ocean bill of lading
- Through bill of lading
- Negotiable bill of lading
- Nonnegotiable bill of lading
- Claused bill of lading
- Clean bill of lading
- Uniform bill of lading
What’s included on a Bill of Lading (BoL) document?
Shipper details: Name and Address of the shipper
Recipient (consignee) details: Name and address of the consignee
Carrier details: Carrier name
Date of loading: Date when carrier loaded the goods onto the vessel
Port of loading: Ocean or inland port where goods were loaded
Destination port: Ocean or inland port where goods will be unloaded
Details of goods being shipped: Type, weight and number of packages
Terms and conditions of shipping: Incoterms and freight charge terms
Any special shipping requirements: if the shipment is hazardous or fragile