What is a Bill of Lading, and why is it so important for your shipment? 

The bill of lading (B/L) outlines the journey of your cargo from the origin to the destination. This is issued by a carrier to a shipper to detail the method and path of a shipment, and is used as a contract for the movement of the cargo. The document details the cargo being transported, with any special instructions, and typically has the terms of the contract printed on the back of the bill. It is also used as a receipt for the cargo, and kept as proof of ownership once landed at its respective transfer points or at destination.

          Historical BOL from W. L. Scott & Co. to John B. Wilbor, Bill of Lading, Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Who is on the Bill of Lading?

  • The shipper and consignee of the goods being transported
  • The carrier that issued the Bill of Lading
  • The origin freight forwarder
  • The destination freight forwarder or the arrival agent that is handling your shipment
  • The party that is paying the freight, whether it is collect or prepaid (either the buyer or seller)
    • Prepaid or collect is listed on the document – This is typically agreed upon prior to shipment

What is on the Bill of Lading?

  • Content of the shipment – For example: toys, apparel, electronics, food etc.
  •  Type of inner packaging – For example: boxes, crates, drums, rolls. packs etc.
  • Type of outer packaging – For example: 720 cases on 10 pallets or 40′ container with 1370 cases
  • Special markings or identifying characteristics on the cargo
  •  Air shipments – labeled with the airline’s Master Airway Bill number (MAWB) or the origin freight forwarder’s House Airway Bill number (HAWB)
  • Special handling instructions – For example: fragile, keep cold, keep upright etc.
  • Special instructions – For example: Do not double stack, keep in covered area etc.
  • Weight and volume of the cargo being transported

Where is this cargo going and where is it coming from?

  • Shipment’s origination point
  • Shipment’s destination point
  • Route from each place to the other
  • Date the shipment is received for transport
  • Flight, vessel and/or trucks the shipment is planned to move with

Keep in mind that the more stops a shipment has, the longer it will take to reach its destination. Usually the route is planned with multiple stops and/or modes to save on freight costs if this is what the supplier or customer wanted when booking the freight.

Our specialists at BOA are ready to find solutions to move your cargo efficiently to meet your transportation needs!

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