Bill of Lading Meaning? B/L Importance, Purpose, and Types

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Export or import business people will go across the Bill of Lading (B/L ) through the shipping procedure. So what is the Bill of lading, its importance, the purpose of using it, and the types? Through this article from Honourocean shipping company, we will deliver all the data about this subject and much more.

What is a Bill of Lading(BL)?

According to the Business Dictionary, a Bill of Lading is:

“A document issued by a carrier, or its agent, to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. It is also a receipt for cargo accepted for transportation and must be presented for taking delivery at the destination.”

Evidence of Contract of Carriage

The Bill of lading is ” evidence of the carriage contract, but it is not the carriage contract itself.” The contract between the shipper and the carrier is formed when the goods are put into the ship and thus exists prior to the issuance of the Bill of lading. 

If the cargo is damaged before the Bill of lading is issued, the shipper can make a claim under the carriage contract as if the Bill had been issued. The Bill of lading is the actual contract of carriage between a carrier and a consignee. The physical carrier (shipowner or demise charterer) or another person may be the contractual carrier under the Bill of lading (such as the charterer or sub charterer).

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What is a bill of lading used for

A B/L has three basic purposes or roles.

  • First of all, It is a bill of lading that serves as a title document for the commodities described in the Bill of lading.
  • Second, it is a receipt for the things that have been shipped.
  • Finally, the Bill of lading encapsulates the agreed-upon terms and conditions for the goods’ shipment.

Based on the above roles, there are several variations of the B/L (let’s call it Types), important among which are as below.


1) A “Straight B/L” is a NON-NEGOTIABLE & NON-TRANSFERABLE DOCUMENT that is issued in Original(s) to a “specified” consignee.

2) A “Sea Waybill” is a B/L that is issued to a “designated” consignee but does not include any originals. This B/L is also NON-NEGOTIABLE AND NON-TRANSFERABLE.

Typically, a Sea Waybill is issued.

  • for inter-company shipments like from ACME Company Hollywood to ACME Company in the Middle of the Australian Outback or
  • where the shipment takes place between two different companies, but there are no negotiations required between the two either directly or via bank for the release of the cargo, and
  • the shipper doesn’t need to submit an original B/L to anyone to secure his payment
  • 3) When a B/L is issued in Original(s) and consigned “TO ORDER” or “TO ORDER OF SHIPPER” or “TO ORDER OF XYZ BANK,” it is termed as “Negotiable B/L or Order Bill. “

Bill of Lading Tracking

How it works

Bill of lading numbers has the format XXXX123456789…

  • The first four characters are used to send the request to the proper company automatically.
  • You can do this manually after monitoring if the company is not supported or if you wish to select a specific company.

If you know of any firms that provide tracking that isn’t listed here, please let us know!

below is tracking website: you can tracking sea shipping, air cargo shipping and express via this website:

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Bill of lading contents

Depending on the type of BOL and/or the shipping and business agreements, the exact contents of a BOL will vary from case to case. Some of the information you’ll discover in a standard BOL are:

  • The shipping line’s name and contact information
  • Number and date on the shipping bill
  • The shipper and receiver name and address, as well as any relevant contact information, as well as a note of the date to aid in shipment tracking
  • This makes it easier to cross-refer the negotiated terms and conditions with the purchase order number or another equivalent reference number (E.g., the delivery terms, the incidence of expense, etc.)
  • Special instructions – this area is crucial since it contains all of the extra service requests, terms and conditions, and carrier reminders.
  • The commodities in the shipment are described in full, including unit dimensions, weight, and content information, among other things.
  • Details about the packaging and use of cartons, crates, pallets, and drums used in shipping
  • The cost of a shipment is determined by the freight classification.
  • Indication of hazardous shipment, if applicable.
  • Signature and initials of the concerned officer

Who Issues Bill of Lading

Before we get into the specifics of bills of lading, there are a few words you need to be familiar with in order to identify the responsible parties.

A lot of parties are involved in the Bill of Lading. The Bill must include a list of these parties in order to be legally binding.

Shipper: is the sender of the products.

 Consignee: Consignee is the person on the other side of the freight. It is the individual or business that receives the items.

Carrier: The carrier is the shipping company. The carrier picks up the goods from the shipper and transports them to the destination.

  • The notify party is the person who should be notified when the goods arrive at their final destination port.

Now that you’ve learned the names of the various stakeholders, we may discuss who provides a bill of lading. As I have indicated, the carrier transportation Company (carrier) issues a bill of lading.


If you need any bill form , can contact honourocean shipping. we sent free

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Types of bill of lading

How many types of bill of lading ?  which kind bill of lading we select for ?original bill of lading vs seaway bill of lading vs telex release bill of lading ?

  1. original bill of lading :if you select orginal bill of lading mean at destination, you need bring orginal paper to pick up container.   orginal bill of lading free charge, but normally we need send from china to customer by DHL , charge about 30-50USD.
  2. Telex release Bill of lading: this mean consignee no need orginal bill of lading to pick up, ship company send by mail with telex release show at bill of lading. this need telex release charge , about 75-80 USD each bill.  it;s simple process and quick to get  than original bill of lading.
  3. seaway bill of lading. this bill of lading once send bill of lading info to ship company, they will send seaway bill . with seaway bill copy, then consignee can pick up ,no need orginal payper and also no need telex release charge. but this need consignee pay all freight before ship depature. as shipper canot control if send seaway bill of lading .
  4. House bill of lading: this mean bill of lading send by logistics company. consignee need with house bill of lading to exchange ship company bill of lading . then can pick up . to canada and use normally surrender house bill of lading

Bill of lading form

Once finish loading container, we need send bill info to ship company,bills of lading forms as below:

Copy bill of lading

once send bill info to ship company, they will send copy bill of lading ,we can check if this info right or not ? copy bill we also say draft bill of lading , example of bill of lading as below :

House bill of lading

Original bill of lading format as below

bill of lading south africa

In South Africa, if the exporter intends using a road hauler, the inland BOL is referred to as a road consignment note, while if the rail network is to be used, then the inland BOL is referred to as a freight transit order. An ocean bill of lading is the traditional BOL used wihen shipping goods with shipping lines

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