A bill of lading (BL, B/L or BOL) is a legal document showing the ownership of the goods in a trade transaction (document of title). A bill of lading is also a receipt issued by the shipper that the specified goods have been received by the transporter and are on the transportation vehicle. Finally, it also serves as a contract for how the goods will be shipped. For a more detailed definition and description of different types of BOLs, see the section on bills of lading in this exports guide developed by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
When shipping your cargo, one of the most important things to ensure is that the cargo arrives safely and without mix-ups. This is why the bill of lading is so relevant. Not only are the items being shipped listed, the BOL also includes specific shipping instructions so that your cargo arrives complete and to the correct destination.
The BOL describes the essential details of a goods shipment. Depending on the type of BOL that is being filled, it is important to have information including: shipper (seller), consignee (buyer), point of origin, place of delivery, contents of shipment, and payment terms. For examples of different Bills of Lading, see the Trade Finance Global or ITC websites.
Bills of lading are issued by a carrier, or transporter, for a consignor (seller) to detail the transportation of the goods to the consignee (buyers). There are two main types of BOLs:
For more detailed information on BOLs, visit the Trade Finance Global website.