What is a Bill of Lading?
07/06/2016 — Jerry Spelic
The Bill of Lading, or BOL, is one of the most important freight shipping documents because it fulfills three purposes: 1) it acts as evidence of a contract between the shipper and the carrier; 2) it serves as a receipt of freight services and goods; and 3) it is a document of title, or ownership, of goods.
Let’s examine the roles the Bill of Lading plays, one
contract between shipper and carrier. The Bill of Lading is a document that
provides the driver and carrier details of your freight shipment, including what
goods you are shipping, where the shipment is coming from, and where it’s going.
It acts only as evidence of a contract between the shipper and the carrier, since the contract is agreed upon before a Bill of Lading is issued. The BOL must be provided to the carrier when a shipment is picked up, and will
be delivered to the consignee upon delivery.
Receipt of freight
services and goods. The Bill of Lading is issued by the
carrier or its agent and provided to the shipper in exchange for receipt of the freight.
The BOL is proof that the carrier has received the freight in good condition,
as provided by the shipper. The shipper should keep a signed copy of the BOL as
proof of carrier liability in the event the shipment is lost, damaged or
Document of title,
or ownership, of goods. The Bill of Lading means that the goods
may be transferred to the holder of the BOL (the carrier) to be transferred
to someone else (the consignee). The most common type of BOL is the "Straight Bill of Lading." This is typically used to ship freight to a customer that has already paid for it.
Information contained on the Bill of Lading includes: shipper
and consignee names, name of the carrier, an itemized list of goods being
transported, number of packages and kind of packaging, weight and/or volume of
the cargo, each package’s freight
class, terms of payment, special handling instructions, and freight rate and amount.
A Bill of Lading is required for all claims for
compensation due to damage or loss, and for any disputes regarding ownership of
the freight. Without a correctly completed BOL you could be faced with a major
headache to be compensated for your freight loss or damage.
In addition, carriers have the right to inspect, reweigh
and reclassify your freight so be sure all weight and shipping
class information is accurate. Errors can result in additional charges and
delayed delivery of your freight.
As you can see, the Bill of Lading is a very important document and needs to be filled out completely and accurately.
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