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Bill of Lading: how to ship your freight safely

Bill of Lading: inventory of goods shipped to your customers

If a producer or manufacturer needs to deliver goods to a customer, the first step should be to find a carrier. Choose the best method of transportation, load the goods onto the selected transport mean and fill out a Bill of Lading form (sometimes abbreviated as B/L or BoL) before shipment. This document is both a kind of agreement between the shipper and the carrier and a receipt of shipment required by the customer (receiver) at the place of destination. In total then, it must be signed by three parties: the shipper, the carrier, and the receiver. There are different types of bills of lading, based on specific trade factors.

Who needs a Bill of Lading form?

A Bill of Lading is a document issued by the carrier and specifies the composition, value of goods carried to a particular party, and provides the contact information about the shipper, receiver, and carrier.

What is a Bill of Lading for?

This Bill of Lading form is one of the most important documents in the international and domestic trade traffic, ensuring that the importer will receive the goods and the exporter will receive the payment. This document can be used equally for the transportation of goods by road or sea. It specifies the type of goods, their packaging, the carrier, the sender and the recipient. It also indicates the total value of all goods transported. Also, this bill is used at customs, as a form of inventory and registration of cargo.

Is the Bill of Lading accompanied by other forms?

Very often the Bill of Lading may not be enough for the passage of the goods across a international borders and customs services may require additional permits for transported goods.

When is the Bill of Lading due?

There is no any particular time of action for this form. The completed form acts as the final document that certifies the fact of shipment to the recipient.

How do I fill out a Bill of Lading?

The shipper is to give the information about the place from where the goods are shipped and to where they are going and the basic information about the carrier and the receiver as well as indicate the freight charge terms. If a third party (other than shipper or receiver) has to pay the bill, it should also be indicated in the bill. The sender must provide the information about the customer order (number of orders, packages, weight, existence of pallet), information for the carrier (quantity and type of handling units and packages, weight, whether the goods contain hazardous materials, commodity description) and Collect on Delivery (COD) amount. The shipper has to sign the Bill and date it. The carrier must also sign the bill and indicate the pickup date.

Where do I send the Bill of Lading?

The cargo carrier retains the Bill of Lading throughout the movement of cargo towards its destination. The bill is then transmitted to the cargo’s recipient.