On a daily basis, billions of tonnes of raw materials and completed goods are transported between factories and vendors, as well as between middlemen and last-mile delivery services. If you are in the business of moving cargo, or if you need to supply or order items in large quantities (whether by truck, plane, or ship), you will need to be familiar with the bill of lading form, sometimes known as the “transport document.”
Learn about the many distinct bill of lading scenarios and how eSignature solutions such as Signeasy may assist expedite the freight processing process by allowing customers to sign electronically. We have also produced a generic, blank bill of lading (BOL) as well as a straight bill of lading template that you may use and alter as you see fit. Both templates are available for download and customization.
What is bill of lading ?
There are two phrases in the bill of lading form. The first is “bill,” which refers to the cost of the items provided, and the second, “lade,” which refers to the act of loading cargo onto a ship. Historically, this document was solely used in connection with maritime transportation; however, it is now applicable to products moved by land and air as well. As a result, this bill constitutes a legally binding contract that conclusively:
Outlines or refers to the terms and conditions of the transportation contract (cost, quantity, final destination, conditions for transport etc)
Documents the ownership of the commodities in accordance with the nemo dat norm.
It performs the function of a contract between a shipper and a carrier in relation to transportation of the goods.
It is important to note that the BOL is dealt with by three parties: the shipper (who sends the goods), the carrier (who transports the items), and the receiver or consignee (receives the goods).
The bill of lading (BOL) could be written for a prepaid or collect cargo.
Suppose a fabric company, ABC Ltd, requires cotton to be supplied (collected) from a supplier in a neighbouring state. They collaborate on a purchase order with the supplier. The supplier, in turn, contracts with a trucking firm (you! ), and both of their representatives sign the bill of lading once the cotton consignment is loaded onto the truck and driven away. Once the products have arrived at ABC Ltd. and are ready to be unloaded, a representative from the company checks that the correct product was delivered by comparing the purchase order with the applicable bill of lading before paying for the goods.
Most of the time, a Bill of Lading (BOL) document is issued to the shipper, and a copy of the document should be attached to the packaged freight. Authorized representatives from the carrier, shipper, and receiver must all sign it as well. In addition to the bill of lading, an insurance policy and an invoice are transmitted across the border.
What’s the purpose of the bill of lading form?
A fully filled bill of lading form is one of the most significant documents in the world of freight shipping since it contains the following information:
The receipt of goods (in good condition) by a certain carrier confirms that the commodities were loaded or delivered.
Because it serves as a document of title, it helps to protect against asset theft.
Assists in the creation of error-free invoices
A Bill of Lading (BOL) form is particularly important for international commerce shipments since it contains all of the necessary information for exporters to efficiently handle the shipment via various nations.
Getting this document incorrectly can result in delays in shipment and possibly even payment.
In a normal bill of lading form, there are a few things to look for.
Do you need to make a reservation for a shipment? Then take a look at our complimentary template. When viewing this bill of lading pdf, you will see the following information, which must be filled out by the shipper:
The following are the names and official addresses of the receiver and the shipper: These particulars should be clearly visible and easily accessible on the bill of lading form.
Purchase order information, including specific reference numbers: Shippers can use unique identifiers such as the PRO number and BOL number to affirm whether or not to release the products for pickup, and the consignee can determine whether or not to accept the goods at delivery.
What to look for in a typical bill of lading form
When the package is picked up, this date is utilised to track the shipment or to cross-reference with the shipping invoice.
Include the number of pieces being shipped, their weight, their Freight class (NMFC), and their dimensions in the item description. Also, make a note of the nature of the products, such as whether the item is fragile, harmful, or otherwise unusual. This will assist the carrier in taking particular care, which will be especially important while carrying dangerous materials.
Packaging: Specify how the items have been packaged, for example, in crates, palettes, cartons, pills, drums, or other containers.
Instructions specific to this case: Fill in the blanks with particular instructions for the carrier.
*Disclaimer: The template provided here is solely for the purpose of illustration and not for use. It is important to confirm with local authorities and legal experts that this format will be sufficient for your shipping before proceeding.
Types of Bill of Lading Forms
Shipping and exporting commodities are handled differently by each shipper or exporter. As a result, modifications will be required to the bills of lading forms. The following are some samples of the most often encountered BOL types:
Open a bill of lading: Do you want to transport something internationally? Consider the Open bill of lading, which is a negotiable bill of lading that can be negotiated. A signature is required in this section, and the consignee’s name can be changed numerous times — effectively transferring possession of the package to the new owner.
Bill of lading for the bearer: Are you looking to carry large quantities of goods and release them in batches? The bear bill of lading should then be used. It stipulates that the goods must be delivered to the person who has a copy of the bill of lading form. This means that the consignee’s name does not need to be supplied at the start of the process, and the column can be left blank.
Straight bill of lading: Has your consignee made full payment for the items before they have even been delivered to you? Then you utilise the non-negotiable straight bill of lading to transport your goods. In this situation, the carrier is required to deliver the package to a certain individual and no one else. This is typically employed in military applications.
Order bill of lading: This is the BOL form that is most commonly used all around the world. This negotiable instrument allows the transfer of ownership of the goods to another party if the consignee acknowledges this party as the ultimate consignee on the document and the other party agrees to the transfer of ownership. When the freight is shipped before the payment has been received, this term is used. For example, if the exporter endorses the carrier’s transfer of title to the importer after the shipment is delivered to the latter, the carrier may transfer the title to the importer.
When freight forwarders (at a port or depot) need to share a bill with carriers or agents to confirm that the item has been received by the latter, this format is employed. However, keep in mind that this does not indicate whether the products have been loaded onto the carrier or not. Once the cargo has been loaded onto the ship, this document can be turned into a shipped bill of lading. This new Bill of Lading (BOL) will represent a contract between the carrier and the shipper.
Clean bill of lading versus soiled bill of lading: If the shipper’s goods has been loaded in good order and condition, the carrier may issue a clean bill of lading to the shipper. There will be no terms in this contract that declare any damage to the items and/or packaging that occurs during the loading process. If the opposite is true, the carrier would issue a’soiled bill of lading’ or a ‘dirty bill of lading’ to indicate the situation. Among the provisions of this form will be a clause that emphasises that the items were “claused or unclean,” as well as comments on the cargo’s condition. For example, damaged packaging, broken cargo, missing pieces, and so forth.
Why choose an electronic bill of lading form?
Through a bill of lading: This is the form to use if the shipping business wants to have complete control over the transportation of the cargo from point of origin to point of destination, such as during a natural disaster. It covers the full shipping procedure, including the specifics of how cross-border freight must be handled and transported. In addition, it typically includes other bills such as negotiable ocean bills of lading (when shipping internationally), non-negotiable air waybills (when transporting through aeroplanes), and inland bills of lading (when shipping domestically) (shipping by rail or road).
A bill of lading for combined transport: Are you planning on combining several shipping methods? Then you should utilise this bill. A multi-modal bill of lading, as it is often known, will include information about cargo that is being delivered by land and sea. For example, products being delivered by truck from New York to Florida and subsequently by ship to India are examples of this.
What are the benefits of using an electronic bill of lading form?
Unquestionably, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly devoid of human contact. No one wants to get their hands on pencils, forms, scanners, printers, or even money exchangers. As a result, the idea of using an electronic bill of lading form is becoming increasingly popular. Click here to get a blank bill of lading (BOL) form in PDF format.
Aside from the ‘hygiene’ issue, here are some of the most significant advantages of using an eSignature solution, such as Signeasy, to scan, sign, submit, and track BOL forms. 1. Save time and money by eliminating the need to print and fax BOL forms.
Effective in terms of cost: Let’s face it, the paper on which bills are printed is rather expensive. Not to mention the added expenditures associated with courier services. e-bills are extremely cost-effective in each of these respects.
The transmission of electronic bills across the globe can be completed in minutes as opposed to paper bills, which might take days to reach their intended receivers and may even be lost in transit. You will never have to search through filing cabinets looking for the bills again because they are all saved on safe servers instead. This ensures that the shipping process, as well as the transfer of ownership and acceptance of delivery, are expedited.
Easily modified: There is no longer any need to rip up paper bills every time someone makes a mistake. With e-bills, you can rapidly make changes to the form and then send it on with a single click of a button to the intended recipient.
Reduces form errors: By using the ‘document fields’ feature of Signeasy, you can ensure that the necessary fields are filled out and signed by the various parties involved.