A bill of lading (BL or BoL) is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried. A bill of lading also serves as a shipment receipt when the carrier delivers the goods at a predetermined destination. This document must accompany the shipped products, no matter the form of transportation, and must be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper, and receiver.
A bill of lading must be transferable, and serves three main functions:
* It is a conclusive receipt, i.e. an acknowledgement that the goods have been loaded. * It contains or evidence the terms of the contract of carriage. * It serves as a document of title to the goods, subject to the nemo dat rule.Information in a freight bill of lading:* Names and addresses: The full names and addresses of both the shipper and receiver (consignee) should be legible and easy to locate on the document. * Purchase orders or special reference numbers: These numbers may be important to your business or a necessary reference in order for freight to be released for pickup or accepted at delivery. * Special instructions: Here is where you will note instructions for the carrier that are not extra service requests like liftgate or delivery notification. * Date: This is the pickup day, and it may be needed as a reference to track your freight or when you reconcile shipping invoices. * Description of items: Shippers should note the number of shipping units, the dimensions and weight, as well as information about the material and its makeup. * Packaging type: Note whether you are using cartons, crates, pallets and/or drums when shipping. * NMFC freight class: Freight classes can impact the cost of your shipment. Freight shipments are broken down into 18 classes based on weight, dimensions, density, storage capability, ease of handling, value and liability. * Department of Transportation hazardous material designation: Hazardous shipments must be clearly cited and special rules and requirements apply when shipping.
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