If you own a business that requires you to ship goods or equipment from one location to another, you may have come across a document called the bill of lading. The bill of lading is one of the most crucial documents in shipping transportation as it outlines information about the parcel, including the origin, intended destination, and quantity, among other things. Below, we take an in-depth look at Bill of Lading Forms and Templates.
What Is a Bill of Lading?
A bill of lading – sometimes abbreviated as BOL or B/L – is a legal shipping document issued to a shipper by a carrier as a contract of carriage for a parcel. It can serve as a receipt to show that the goods were delivered to their intended destination and received by the shipper. Usually, the document accompanies the shipped goods and is signed by the carrier and receiver upon delivery. It indicates important details, such as the destination, type, and quantity of goods.
What is a Bill of Lading Form or Template?
A bill of lading template is a fillable form that can be used to capture the quantity, type, and destination of a parcel. Most shipping companies have their own templates, which they customize to meet the needs of a specific shipper.
Bill of Lading Forms and Templates
Essential Elements of the Bill of Lading
A bill of lading is a legal document and, for effectiveness, it must contain the following details:
- The parcel carrier completes and issues the bill of lading.
- The shipper and consignee of the parcel.
- The person paying for shipping.
- The person who will handle the parcel on arrival.
- The buyer or seller of the shipment.
- The cargo’s destination.
- The route it will take
- The vehicles and vessels that will handle the cargo
- The expected delivery date.
Types of Bill of Lading Forms
The type of bill of lading form you use will depend on the situation and the nature of the cargo and shipment method. The most common types are:
- Shipped Bill of Lading – Usually requested by the shipper as confirmation from the cargo owner that they have received the cargo in good condition.
- Ocean Bill of Lading – Required when the cargo will be shipped over the sea, either nationally or internationally.
- Through Bill of Lading – Allows the carrier to ship the cargo through different types of transportation methods and distribution centers.
- Inland Bill of Lading – Required when the cargo will be transported overland.
- Claused Bill of Lading – Completed by the receiver when the cargo is damaged or does not meet the shipper’s requirements. Also called a dirty or foul bill of lading.
- Received Bill of Lading – signed by the receiver to confirm that they have received the cargo.
- Uniform Bill of Lading – Highlights basic details about the cargo, such as the shipper and carrier’s names, origin, and destination.
- Clean Bill of Lading – Opposite of the bill of lading. This shows the cargo was received in good condition.
Purposes of Bill of Lading
There are three main reasons companies and shipping agencies create bills of lading. Depending on the information on this document, it can:
Serve as a Title
An order bill of lading will usually not include the consignee’s name, which means it can be negotiated with another party. However, a straight bill of lading is usually issued in the consignee’s name, and, since the name is already indicated, it cannot be negotiated. The bill, therefore, makes the consignee the true and legal holder of the cargo, serving as a title for the cargo carrier.
Act as a Contract Carriage
A bill of lading represents a contract carriage between the shipper and carrier and is essential for shipping the cargo as agreed to by the buyer and seller. Once signed, the carrier and shipper are in agreement, and the latter must send the cargo to the carrier.
Act as a Receipt
Last but not least, bills of lading are primarily prepared to act as a receipt for the shipment. It is completed by the carrier once they load the cargo onto the vehicle or vessel and signed by the receiver upon delivery. As such, it can be used as evidence of contract completion and as a receipt for customs and insurance purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create a bill of lading?
- Enter the current date
- Assign the bill of lading a number.
- Identify the shipper, carrier, receiver, etc.
- Describe the cargo by size, quantity, color, etc.
- Enter the PRO or ID number provided by the shipper.
- Enter your reference number.
- Include slots for the necessary signatures.
Can a bill of lading be handwritten?
It can, but most companies don’t prefer or accept handwritten bills of lading because they could contain errors or be illegible.
How do you fill out a straight bill of lading short form?
- Supply the number of units being shipped.
- Enter the weight of the cargo
- Include the names and addresses of the receiver and shipper.
- Indicate the date of shipment.
- Add any special instructions provided by the carrier.
What is required on a bill of lading?
A bill of lading must identify the shipper, carrier, and receiver of the cargo. It must include accurate names, addresses, and dates, as well as a detailed description of the cargo.
Who prepares a bill of lading?
A BOL can be created by the carrier, shipper, or a 3PL acting on behalf of the shipper.
Do private carriers need a bill of lading?
A bill of lading is not as important for private carriers because they transport their own goods.
Can a bill of lading be changed?
A bill of lading can be changed before the logistics service provider confirms the booking but not after the shipping manifest has been prepared.
Who can fill out an inland bill of lading form?
The carrier, shipper, or freight forwarder can complete a bill of lading.
Legally binding Bill of Lading Forms and Templates must set the accurate terms and conditions of the transportation. If you fill in any of the details incorrectly, you might have to deal with payment or delivery delays and their associated costs or denial of claims. In some cases, you could also face penalties for completing the form fraudulently.