Bill of Lading

Here at this informational website, the ensuing article sets out to cover all informational aspects pertaining to an important document that accompanies all shipments, known as the forwarders bill of lading.

What is a Bill of Lading?

This important shipping document (which can be referred to as a BOL,or B/L) is a specific document issued by a carrier, for example by a company's shipping department or a ship's master, which acknowledges that specified goods or cargo have been received on board for conveyance to a location specifically named for delivery to the consignee. The consignee is usually identified in this document.

What is a Through Bill of Lading?

This document generally involves at least two different modes of transport being used. This means using either of road, rail, air, and sea. The term "through bill of lading" is derived from the word "bill", which in this context is a schedule of costs for services supplied or about to be supplied. This term also derives from the verb "to lade" which in this sense means to load cargo onto a carriers such as a ship or another form of transport such as a barge, truck or plane.

BOL Types

What follows are the several types of this document explained in easy to understand terms to make the info more accessible to everyone who reads this.

Straight Bill of Lading

This type of bill states that the goods are consigned to a specified person and it is not negotiable free from existing equities. In other words any endorsee acquires no better rights than those held by the endorser. For example, should the carrier or another hold a lien over the goods as security for unpaid debts, the endorsee is bound by the lien. However, if the endorser wrongfully failed to disclose the charge, the endorsee will have a right to claim damages for failing to transfer an unencumbered title.

This type of bill is also known as a "non-negotiable bill of lading."

Order Bill of Lading

This type of bill uses express words in oder to make the bill negotiable. For example, it states that the described delivery is to be made to the further order of the consignee by using such words as "delivery to Company Ltd. or to order or assigns". In this respect, the specific bill can now be endorsed by Company Ltd. or the explicit right to take delivery is able to be transferred by the physical delivery of the bill which is accompanied by adequate evidence of Company Ltd.'s intention to transfer.

This type of bill is also known as a "negotiable bill of lading."

Bearer Bill of Lading

This type of bill states that delivery will be made to the holder the bill. Such bill may be created explicitly or it is an order bill that fails to nominate the consignee whether in its original form or through an endorsement in blank. A bearer bill can be negotiated by physical delivery.

Surrender Bill of Lading

Under a term import documentary credit the bank releases the documents on receipt from the negotiating bank but the importer does not pay the bank until the maturity of the draft under the relative credit. This direct liability is called "Surrender Bill of Lading" (SBL), i.e. when we hand over the BOL we surrender title to the goods and our power of sale over the goods.

For you information and by way of a visual example, we have included a sample BOL image HERE

Information source:


Comment by: Binish Shah


Comment by: nando

Dear Sirs/ Madam,

In using of house B/L, any risk that counterpart agent at POD will pick up the container directly? Do the carriers will check the existing of the POD agency?

kindly advice if you know about this.. thank you

Comment by: Frances

Just a quick check, what is back dated B.O.L? Any risk in this? Kindly please advise soonest possible.



Comment by: freight forwader

Rashmi, Maybe I'll tell you if you tell me why you can't use lowercase when typing like a normal human being. All uppercase is hard to read and is akin to SHOUTING AT SOMEONE in typeface...

Comment by: RASHMI


Comment by: Vladimir

This is useful post on this very important cargo document I have been trying to find good info like this for long time. Many sites post on this subject but do not ever give comprehensive details to help people who need it.

Thank you for post, it was highly informative


Comment by: Ramat


If by HBL, you mean a Hazmat B.O.L., here is a link to more info:

Comment by: aNOOP

Dear Sir,

I would like to know what is the formalities to own a HBL in our own company.

thanks. Anoop

Comment by: Elcorin

Greetings, I enjoy reading your highly informative post on the many aspects of B O L document which I realize is needed for successful export of goods. I have added to GoogleReader!

Thanks, Elcorin

Comment by: Jez

This was an informative and interesting article covering shipping insurance documentation and was especially useful to me as I will be forwarding some cargo to another destination soon and I needed this information. Thank you

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