What Is the Bill of Lading (BOL) and How to Fill It Out? | GoShip

What Is the Bill of Lading (BOL) and How to Fill It Out?

Posted on:
Nov 25, 2023

Updated 12/02/2023

Filling out shipping documentation can be exhausting. However, the knowledge of required shipment information and reliable guidelines can help you complete your BOL easily and quickly.

What is the bill of lading (BOL)?

The bill of lading (BOL) is an essential document in the freight shipping process that acts as the main agreement between a shipper and a carrier. The bill of lading includes vital information about your shipments, such as shipment details, dates, addresses, and special instructions. The document is issued by a freight carrier who moves your freight to you, the shipper. Additionally, the BOL acts as a receipt for your shipment, a contract between you and the page, and the document of title, which confirms the ownership of goods.

What information does a BOL include?

As the main proof of transportation, the bill of lading contains comprehensive data on all the shipment components. Looking into this paperwork, any member of the supply chain can understand what, where, and how they’re shipping freight.

  • Names and addresses. In your shipping document, you’ve got to specify correctly the names of shippers and receivers, as well as note the exact addresses of pickup and delivery locations. If your freight travels through storage facilities, warehouses, and other places, it’s vital to mention these addresses in the BOL.
  • Special number for shipment tracking. Once the BOL is issued, you receive a unique number for further shipment tracking. You can check the status of your shipment by the BOL number and control the timeline effectively.
  • Date of the shipment. Your paperwork reflects all the time details of the load. It allows carriers to stick to the deadlines and move your cargo, avoiding shipping delays.
  • Number of shipment units. It is how the carriers know how much of their capacity is dedicated to your freight. It helps them locate the cargo inside the truck and calculate the shipping price.
  • The NMFC freight class. Before launching the supply chain process, determine the correct classification of your cargo. Freight class directly influences your packaging choices and shipping rates. If you mistake the freight class, it may result in improper cargo handling and increased shipping prices.
  • The weight and measurements of the shipment. Together with the freight class of your cargo, its weight determines the final price of the shipment. Besides, the weight and measurements of your items give you a clear understanding of the suitable transport units to choose from.
  • The declared value of the shipment. This information is necessary for shippers to secure your cargo inside the truck so there’s a minimum possibility of freight damage. Also, the declared value will help you get the appropriate freight insurance.

What other details do you list in the BOL?

Aside from the most critical information, adding some details to your paperwork will be beneficial. 

  • Packaging type. Describe what packaging you’ve applied to secure your items. If you’ve packed all your freight containments properly, there won’t be any threat of damage during transportation. To verify your packaging method choice, you can address the freight class of your cargo.
  • Description of the transported goods. Include short descriptions of your cargo so the carriers are confident about what they ship. Often, freight descriptions can reduce the need for unpacking and detailed checking of all the cargo components during logistics inspections. It significantly speeds up the whole process and lets your products reach their destination faster.
  • Additional instructions. Provide short instructions for your cargo so the carriers know how to handle the freight. It concerns especially certain types of goods that require more attention when completing physical operations like loading/unloading, stacking, unpacking, etc. For instance, hazardous goods need special handling to prevent external factors’ effects.

How to fill it out?

The bill of lading or BOL is like a boarding pass in the world of freight shipping, so it is critical to provide accurate information. This will save you time, eliminate confusion, and prevent you from paying extra money. In many cases, incorrect completion of the BOL can result in additional charges.

Where do you get the BOL?

Your freight carrier initially issues the bill of lading. Where do you get the document when moving goods through a shipping service or a third party? Today, the documentation required for freight shipping is generated electronically. Since the BOL is the most critical legal paper in the transportation process, a professional shipping platform provides it for you and assists you in filling it out. This way, even a newcomer can ensure all the paperwork is completed correctly.

At GoShip, we provide automated paperwork generation and help you fill out the bill of lading. We prioritize meeting your logistics needs at a reasonable price. On our digital platform, you can search for experienced carriers, compare shipping rates, and get instant quotes. Learn more about our shipping services, and get a free LTL quote today!

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