The Bill of lading (BOL) is a very important document in the shipping industry that acts as a contract between the shipper, the carrier, and consignees. Because of the critical nature of the BOL, information must be filled out accurately every time. Many shippers use the same BOL form template to avoid making mistakes, however, it can be complicated for new shippers to understand all the intricacies of this process.
What is the purpose of a BOL?
The contract between carrier and shipper
A bill of lading as a contract between the carriers and shippers, stating evidence of carriage between all involved parties in order to transport the freight. It is a legal document that outlines all the most important details about the shipment and protects it.
Receipt of the goods
The BOL is issued by the carrier to the shipper in exchange for the receipt of the shipment. Essentially, this document is proof that the carrier has received the goods from the shipper in supposedly good condition.
Document of title to the goods
A document of title means the freight can be transferred to the holder of the BOL. Now, the holder of the BOL has the right to claim to transfer the goods to another.
Who issues the Bill of Lading?
Traditionally, the freight carrier issues the BOL to the shipper of goods. In some cases, brokers can also issue the bill of lading to consignees, but primarily this is a carrier’s function. You should provide the document to the carrier at pick-up or arrival. Later, the carrier passes the BOL to the receiver or consignee at delivery. It provides the driver and carrier with all necessary information to process the freight shipment and create an accurate invoice. The BOL must specify any and all details of the shipment.
What information is on the BOL form?
- Shipper and receiver (or consignee) names and complete address
- The date of the shipment
- The number of shipping units
- The freight classification
- The exact weight of the shipment – If there are multiple freight units, each item’s weight must be listed.
- Type of packaging, including cartons, pallets, skids, and drums
- A description of the items, including the material of manufacture and common name
- PO or special account numbers used between businesses for order tracking
- Special instructions for the carrier
- Note if the freight is classified as hazardous by the DOT
- The declared value of the freight
- BOL form example
- A picture of generic BOL.
- Completing BOL form
Today, most transportation management systems or online shipping platforms like GoShip.com allow you to complete the bill of lading online. This not only requires less time but also increases document accuracy. Additionally, shippers, carriers, and third parties are notified automatically if any critical data fields are missing or incomplete.
Here at GoShip, we offer an automatic bill of lading generation. While it simplifies the process of completing a bill of lading and reduces the chance of error, it is still a shipper’s responsibility to make sure that information is accurate and precise. Without correct data on the document, shippers risk paying additional charges or experience shipment delays.