A Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents in the world of freight shipping. However, it’s still confusing for many companies and shippers to understand what a BOL is and what role it plays in the transportation process.
To clear it up, here are the 5 most important things you need to know about a Bill of Lading:
What is Bill of Lading?
Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legal document that involves a shipper of certain freight and a carrier, who is responsible for transporting goods. The document is issued by the carrier (or transportation company) to the shipper and states the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried.
Why do you need it?
Imagine boarding a plane without a ticket. It’s not happening either way, and a BOL plays the same role in freight transportation. It serves multiple purposes, and here are the most important of them:
- A receipt for shipment
- A contract between freight carrier and shipper
- A document of title
If your freight is lost or damaged, having accurate information in your BOL will boost claim processing and raise the chances to find the cargo. Providing correct information is essential to complete a Bill of Lading. Neglecting to do so puts you at risk for experiencing delays and unwanted headache.
What information does it contain?
As the most important record in the shipping process, the Bill of Lading essentially includes a lot of important information. Basically, it answers every what, where, and who of the freight.
BOL data includes:
- Shipper’s name and address
- Receiver’s/consignee’s name and address
- Purchase order number or special account numbers used for order tracking
- Special instructions
- Date of the shipment
- Number of units being shipped
- Type of packaging (including cartons, pallets, skids, and drums)
- Note if the shipment contains Department of Transportation hazardous material
- Description of items being shipped (including the material of manufacture and common name)
- The NMFC freight classification
- The exact weight of the shipment
- The declared value of the goods being shipped
No matter if you are a large corporation, a small business or an individual shipper, if you have to ship cargo, chances are you’ll deal with the Bill of Lading. Completing it is not as scary and complex as it seems, just make sure you provide correct information.