Bill of Lading
(BOL) Definition

A bill of lading is simply a contract between you, the carrier, and the owner of the goods.

What is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading is simply a contract between you, the carrier, and the owner of the goods stating the nature of goods you're transporting, where the shipment is coming from, and its intended destination. It also serves as a formal receipt given by the carrier immediately your shipment is picked up.

In other cases, a bill of lading can be used as a document of title. In this capacity, it allows the individual holding it to claim possession of your shipment.

Why is the Bill of Lading Important?

Normally, the carrier does not need all the originals to be submitted before delivery. It is therefore important that the exporter maintains control over the entire set of the originals until a bill of exchange or payment is effected to him.

A bill of lading is a very critical matter when making shipments to move the freight or cargo from one point to another. On one hand, it is a contract between a shipper and carrier for the shipment of goods and on the other hand, it serves as a receipt issued by a carrier to the shipper.

The bill of lading is essentially a legal document that provides all the important details to the carrier and the shipper to conveniently process the cargo shipment through different maritime countries and invoice it appropriately. A copy of the bill of lading is ascribed to the packaged freight, and the original given to the carrier.


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Purpose of Bill of Lading:

The bill of lading is meant to serve as a transport document enacting the evidence of the contract of shipment of the goods. A typical bill of lading has the following properties:

  • It is a document of title, sanctioning the sale of cargo in transit and the raising of financial credit.
  • It serves as a receipt which demonstrates that the carrier has obtained the cargo as per the agreed contract and the commodities are received in perfect condition.
  • It acts as evidence for the carriage contract containing the terms and conditions under which the cargo shipment will be carried out.
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