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3 Things To Know About Bill of Lading (BOL) Meaning

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 a BOL meaning and what role it plays in the transportation process.

What is Bill of Lading?

Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legitimate 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.

Read The Definition of a Bill of Lading

Why do you need BOL?

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 the shipment
  • A contract between a freight carrier and shipper
  • A document of title

In the case of freight loss or damage, 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 is in BOL?

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 
  • Note if the shipment contains hazardous material
  • Description of items 
  • The NMFC freight classification
  • The exact weight of the shipment
  • The declared value of the goods being shipped

Final thoughts

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. And, essentially you have to understand the BOL meaning. Completing it is not as scary and complex as it seems, just make sure you provide correct information.

How Important is Accuracy on the BOL?

Since the bill of lading is a key document in the freight shipping industry, it is crucial to fill it out correctly. Providing accurate information may seem obvious. Yet many shippers underestimate the role of accuracy when completing the BOL.

Why accuracy is crucial when completing the BOL?

what is bol

It’s important to sign and date the BOL carefully to record the actual BOL date on which the cargo was loaded.

If the’re a wrong BOL  date, there are serious consequences: the company is exposed to claims from cargo interests and the P&I cover might not be available. The BOL is a legal contract and can be used in litigation. If the bill of lading is inaccurate, there are definite consequences.

When do Freight Claims Occur?

Freight claims occur when a bill of lading information does not match the actual service provided or product received. If the BOL indicates that the goods were loaded in good condition, but the consignee receives them damaged, the consignee will be entitled to make a claim for the damage against the carrier. Or, if the bill of lading states there are 100 boxes, but only 75 arrive, the consignee can make a claim for the shortage.

What are the Types of Freight Claims?

  • Limit Liability. The company may lose its right to limit liability for a claim for freight damage or shortage.
  • Lose P&I Cover. P&I cover may not be available for claims in situations where the description of goods isn’t correct.
  • No Indemnity from Charterer. No obligation to sign a bill of lading that wrongly describes the cargo.

Before signing off on the BOL, the receiver should inspect the cargo to ensure that the product is not compromised. Double-check the BOL is accurate compared to the delivery of goods, and verify the accuracy of the cargo description before signing. Any damage or defect should be recorded in detail.

Since the bill of lading is your boarding pass into the freight shipping process, all the information matters. Make sure to thoroughly check all the data on the document to avoid additional charges and claims. Once you know all is clear and concise, you are ready to ship!

What Is a Bill of Lading (BOL)?

Bill-of-LadingWhat is Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading (BOL) is a legal document between a shipper of a particular commodity and the carrier detailing the type, quantity, and destination of the goods. The carrier issues the BOL to a shipper of the goods. Additionally, it is essential that the information on the BOL is accurate.

What’s the purpose of a Bill of Lading Form?

1) it is a receipt for the goods;

2) it evidences the contract between the carrier and shipper;

3) it serves as a document of title.

What Are the Types of BOL?

There are two basic types of bills of lading – straight BOL and order BOL. A straight BOL is one where the goods are consigned to a designated party and is not negotiable. Therefore, an order BOL is one that is consigned to the order of a specific party.

It’s an important designation in determining whether the BOL is negotiable. Also, an order BOL is capable of transferring title to the goods covered under it by its delivery or endorsement.

What’s in a BOL?

Ultimately, BOL is the most important document in the shipping industry. It provides all the information that the driver and carrier need to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly. BOL has the following information:

  • 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 shipment units
  • Type of packaging
  • Note if the shipment contains hazardous material
  • Description of items
  • The NMFC freight class
  • The exact weight of the shipment
  • The declared value of the goods

When a customer books a shipment with PLS PRO, our web-based transportation management system, the system automatically generates the BOL based on the shipment details entered during the quoting and booking process. Also, it is available online immediately. So, you can easily download and share it.

Want to learn how to complete a BOL?

Learn our guide on how to complete a bill of lading form!