What is the Bill of Lading?

What is the Bill of Lading?

Understanding the Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a shipment receipt given by the carrier to the shipper of goods. The document presents the quantitydestination, and type of goods carried. The Bill of Lading also acts as a legal document when the carrier brings the goods to a prearranged destination.

What is the Purpose of a BOL?

Bill of Lading


  • Provides information on the terms of the shipment.

  • Explains the quantity, destination, and type of shipment the carrier is delivering

  • Serves as a receipt for the shipper

  • Also used as the title to the goods

  • Represents ownership of the goods

Who gets the BOL?

The shipper, broker, freight forwarder, or consignee, receives the BOL. (The consignee is the person who purchased the goods to begin with).

Who gives the Bill of Lading to the shipper?

The carrier gives the Bill of Lading to the shipper confirming if the freight matches and if it was delivered at the prearranged destination in good condition.

What’s on a Freight BOL?

  • Names and addresses: The full names and addresses of both the consignee and shipper should be legible. Next, they should be easy to locate on the document.

  • Purchase orders or unique reference numbers: The unique numbers may be necessary to a business depending on the circumstances. It is also used as a reference for freight to be accepted or released for pickup.

  • Special instructions:  Note instructions for the carrier (this doesn’t include additional service requests like liftgate or delivery notification).

  • Date: The pickup day. When you negotiate shipping invoices (might be needed to track freight).

  • Description of items: Shippers should note the number of shipping units, dimensions, and weight of their freight. Material description is also listed on the BOL.

  • Packaging type: Container used for shipment (shipping pallet, crate, skid, ect).

  • NMFC freight class: Freight classes impact the cost of the shipment. Freight shipments divide into categories based on weight, dimensions, density, storage capability, ease of handling, value, and liability.

  • Department of Transportation Hazardous material designation: Cite any shipment hazards. Specific requirements and rules apply when shipping.

Need help determining your shipment details or finding your Bill of Lading paperwork? Contact our agents now.

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