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What is a Bill of Lading?

Posted in Shipping on Dec 01, 2014, tagged with moving tips, preparing for your move

There's a lot of paperwork to manage when you move across the country or ship furniture, boxes, or other goods long distance. Between your moving contracts, property-related papers, and personal records, one of the most important pieces of documentation you'll need to fill out and keep handy throughout the process is the bill of lading. But unless you've moved or shipped goods long distance before, your bill of lading may look as confusing as if it were written in a foreign language. 

What is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading is a legal document issued by a carrier (or its agent) to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. The bill of lading serves multiple purposes:

  1. As a receipt of goods between the shipping company and the customer, to confirm that the goods shipped match the description on the paperwork
  2. As a contract that legally binds the driver and the carrier to the shipment (& additional details)
  3. To invoice the shipment properly
  4. To determine who pays for freight charges and customs fees
  5. To outline the liability and responsibility for the goods being shipped.
If your cargo arrives damaged, you'll need your bill of lading in order to make a claim against your moving or shipping insurance.

The information noted on your bill of lading will direct the actions of all personnel who handle your cargo throughout its entire journey. A bill of lading must accompany shipped goods, regardless of the method of transportation. It must also be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier and shipper, as well as the receiver.

What is on the Bill of Lading?

The bill of lading is automatically created once the customers’ shipping information is entered during the booking process. It is then given to the carrier during pick up and will be delivered when the shipment is dropped off. It will contain:

  • Shipper and consignee's name and full address
  • Dates of departure and arrival
  • Weight and/or volume of cargo
  • Freight rate and amount
  • Number of pieces being shipped 
  • Itemized list of goods, including number of packages and type of packaging (pallet, box, skid, etc.)
  • Marks and numbers on the packages
  • Declared value of the shipment, if there is one
  • Identification of any hazardous goods or materials
  • Quote number for tracking purposes
  • Any special shipping instructions

Conclusion

The bill of landing is one the most important moving documents. It serves many purposed, most notably as evidence of the shipping contract, and also as a receipt (signed by the carrier) to confirm the goods match the description on the paperwork, and that they have been received in good order. It will be used by all personnel who handle your cargo, and you'll require it if you need to make an insurance claim on your shipment.