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What is a Bill of Lading and What is its Purpose?

International Freight Shipping

Getting to know what a bill of lading is and what is its purpose can help you ensure that you have all of the proper documentation needed to transport your freight. At C&D Logistics, we understand how important it is to have all of the proper documentation when shipping goods. That is why our team of freight shipping experts will take care of all freight shipping documentation for you.

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What is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading (BL, B/L, or BoL) is a legal document that outlines the type, quality, and destination of the goods being carried. Issued by a freight carrier to a shipper, this type of freight shipping documentation also serves as a shipment receipt for when the goods arrive at the predetermined destination. A bill of lading must accompany products that are being shipped and must be signed by an authorized representative of the carrier, shipper, and receiver.

What is the Purpose of a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading serves three main purposes in the overall shipping process:

  • Proof of a contract of carriage—While the actual contract is agreed upon when the shipper books with a carrier, the bill acts as proof that the contract actually exists.
  • Receipt of goods—The bill of lading works as a receipt that is given to the shipper from the carrier in exchange for the cargo. It offers proof that the carrier has received the cargo from the shipping agent in good condition.
  • Title to the goods—Serving as a document of title, the bill of lading declares that the holder has the right to claim the goods.

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Bill of Lading Types

The different variations of the bill of lading that can be issued include:

Straight Bill of Lading

Straight bills of lading are non-negotiable and non-transferable, as they are issued as an original document to a named party. This means that the cargo can only be released to a specific party and only when the original bill has been surrendered.

Seaway Bill of Lading

A seaway bill of lading is often issued for inter-company shipments or when the shipper is required to submit the original bill to obtain payment. This type of bill of lading is non-negotiable and does not require an original bill to be issued or surrendered.

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Negotiable Bill of Lading

Negotiable bills of lading, also known as order bills, are issued as originals and can be used to negotiate payments between the buyer and seller. This type of bill of lading contains the terms and conditions of the carrier and must be surrendered to port agents with proper endorsements in order for the cargo to be released.

If you would like to learn more about what a bill of lading is and what is its purpose, or if you are interested in one of our freight shipping services, please contact C&D Logistics at 604-881-4440 or by filling out a contact form on our website. You can also stay up to date with the latest news by following us on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.