What is a Bill of Lading?

07/06/2016 — PartnerShip

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 by one.

Evidence of 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 destroyed.

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.

The shipping experts at PartnerShip are here to help you focus on your business by managing the complicated parts of shipping. To stay competitive, ship smarter with PartnerShip! Contact us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now!


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