It is considered the most important shipping document concerned to the import and export process. Nevertheless, most shippers do not quite understand its meaning or the types of bill of lading that are issued along the supply chain.
The bill of lading (B/L or BoL) is a highly important paper in the shipping and logistics
industry. It is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type,
quantity and destination of the goods being carried.
It provides evidence or proof of shipment, indicating the owner of the cargo. Also, the bill of lading is evidence of the Contract of Carriage, receipt of goods and document of title to the goods. Hence, the owner of the cargo (the holder of the B/L) has the legal rights to claim the goods or arrange transfer ownership of it to another party in the supply chain.
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This document must be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper, and receiver and always be conducted with the shipped goods.
Negotiable: a straightforward instruction is provided to make the delivery of the goods to anyone having possession of the original copy of the BL, which indicates the title and control of the freight. As a negotiable bill, the consignee/notify or its agent has to present an original copy of the B/L at the discharge port for customs purposes, otherwise, it will not be released.
Non-negotiable bill: In this case, it indicates a specific consignee/notify to whom the cargo will be shipped and delivered. Nevertheless, it does not serve the owner of the goods. Here the assigned consignee/ notify can claim the cargo by confirming their identity.Read More:
There are several subdivisions and formats of a bill of lading that carriers can issue along the supply chain. Some of the most used categories are:
The bill of lading will always be issued on “Freight Collect” or “Freight Pre-Paid” terms. These terms refer to which party will be paying for the International Freight costs.
Note that the carrier must receive the payment of the shipping charges (by either party) before they release the cargo to the Consignee/Notify.
To make it easier to understand, we have some common examples upon INCOTERMS for each type of term:
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Right below you can find an example format of a bill of lading: