Make a Free Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is a legal document that details goods being transported from a shipper or seller to the recipient.

How It Works

Create a Bill of Lading in less than 5 minutes

Legally binding in all 50 states

Print and export to Word or PDF in seconds

Sample Bill of Lading

Read Full Document

Sample Bill of Lading

+
Create Bill of Lading

What is a Bill of Lading (B/L, BoL)?

A bill of lading (also referred to as a B/L or BoL) is a legal document that details goods being transported from a shipper or seller to the recipient via freight carrier. The B/L will include various information including the type of goods included in the shipment, the number of shipping units, the destination address for the transaction, and the carrier name. This document should always be included in a transaction involving shipped products because it acts as a transport document.

The B/L should be frequently signed at various points throughout the delivery process. First, it will be signed by the seller, or the people who is shipping the goods. It will also be signed by a representative of the shipping company. Then, when the package is delivered, the B/L will be signed by the recipient.

This important document protects the seller, the shipper, and the recipient. It helps ensure that all the products are successfully delivered. If there is a problem, the B/L can help you figure out where the problem occurred. In fact, if a claim is filed for compensation related to the goods, a B/L must be provided.

The document may be negotiable or non-negotiable. When a B/L is negotiable, it is often used for credit transactions; it could be used as a letter of credit. It can be bought, sold, or traded. It can even be used as collateral on which to borrow money.

Types of Bills of Lading

When it comes to shipping and trade, a B/L is one of three official documents used to guarantee proper accounting of shipments. A template helps ensure that people or businesses receive the merchandise they pay for. It also ensures that the seller receives proper payment for their goods. The template provides clarification and accountability for both parties, particularly in international trade.

When shipping or receiving goods, it is critical that a B/L be part of the process. In fact, free forms are available online to make the process easier. A template has three major roles. First, it acts as proof that the shipping line promised to carry the goods. Second, it acts as a “receipt” – proof that the merchandise listed was received and is in good order. Third, it is proof of ownership of the goods, an original bill.

There are two different types of templates. The first is known as a straight bill of lading. It is used when payment was made before  the freight ships. The second type, an order bill of lading, is used when payment will be made after shipment. Essentially, it withholds transferring legal ownership of the freight until payment is made.

Adjustments can be made to explain different things on a B/L. For instance, it might be noted “received for shipment." This would indicate that merchandise was received, but may not yet be in transit. A “shipped on board” note indicates that the merchandise was physically loaded and is in transit. Merchandise that is transported by sea often requires a “port to port” notation on the B/L. This limits the carrier’s responsibility for the merchandise to only that time that it is physically on the vessel. Thus, origin and ultimate delivery should not be mentioned.

An adjustment to the bill of lading can also indicate the condition of the merchandise at the time of receipt. A “clean” B/L lets people know that the merchandise was in good condition when it was received. A “foul” B/L means that some or all of the merchandise was damaged upon receipt. This type of B/L may also be called a “claused” B/L. These types of notations can be highly important to both parties later on.

Bills of Lading vs Charterparties

A bill of lading documents a purchase of merchandise. The parties are primarily the seller and a buyer. It may document the items shipped (including the quantity), the condition of the items, the item number, list the freight forwarder, mention special rules for handling the goods, and is signed by those who handle the items while they’re being shipped.

A charterparty is a document that outlines the relationship between a shipowner and the charterer. So, it is the agreement between the seller and the shipowner who will transport the goods. The owner of the boat may or may not act as an agent on behalf of the seller. It usually lists the freight charges.

Common Uses for a Bill of Lading

The most common use of a B/L is a cargo receipt. Usually, someone (often a business) is importing items that must be shipped in via ocean. It is often used for customs or insurance during the shipping process. However, it ultimately acts as a contract between the seller and the buyer.

Components of a Freight Bill of Sale

The components of a B/L include:

  • The full name and address of the seller (often referred to as the shipper or consignor) and the buyer (often referred to as the receiver or the consignee)
  • A purchase order (PO) number or a special reference number to help identify the shipment
  • Any special instructions the carrier must abide by
  • The pickup date
  • A description of the items (including the type of items, the quantity, the weight, and the material used to create the item)
  • The type of packing used (such as pallets, crates, cartons, or drums)
  • NMFC freight class (may also be called an NMFC item number)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous material designation

How to Fill Out a Bill of Lading

The B/L will be completed by the seller. They may receive a template from the cargo company they plan to use. Below, you’ll learn how to fill out a B/L, but keep in mind that it may slightly vary depending on the shipper and their template.

  1. Start by adding the date that you’re creating the document.
  2. Enter a bill of lading number.
  3. Apply the appropriate barcode.
  4. Enter any necessary ID number or PRO number provided by the shipper.
  5. Enter your PO or reference number.
  6. Print the full address where the goods are sent from as well as the full address of the receiver. Make sure to include the phone number for both parties.
  7. List any third-party who may be paying for the shipment. This should include their name, address, and phone number.
  8. Add any special notes such as internal account numbers or a secondary PO number provided by the buyer. You will also list any special instructions for delivery.
  9. If applicable, enter a guaranteed delivery date and time.
  10. If the B/L is for cash on delivery (COD), that information should be documented.
  11. Include the amount of the COD that must be collected before releasing the merchandise.
  12. Mention whether the purchaser may pay a COD with a company check.
  13. List how many items are being shipped and whether the shipment is secure.
  14. Describe the type of packaging (such as cartons or pallets).
  15. If you’re shipping individual pieces, list the number that will be shipped.
  16. List how each unit is measured.
  17. Document whether the product is a DOT hazardous material. Hazardous materials must be shipped in a certain way.
  18. Describe the items.
  19. List the NMFC.
  20. Use the correct class specification.
  21. List the proper weight of the products being shipped. The weight of the items should be listed separately.
  22. Document the length, height, and weight of the shipment.
  23. Provide an emergency contact number if you’re shipping hazardous materials.
  24. List the person responsible for shipment charges and if they are prepaid or need to be collected.
  25. List the declared value of the goods for customs.
  26. Sign the B/L in the proper place if the shipper isn’t responsible for collecting shipment charges.
  27. Have the authorized agent sign the B/L.

Download a PDF or Word Template

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is used to inventory goods that are being sent from one person or business to another. A copy of the bill of lading is sent with the goods and the receiver can use it to verify they've received everything that was sent.

Read More

Invoice

An invoice is a document that verifies the services or goods given to one party and the amount of money they should pay. An invoice should also include the date the payment is due and include payment options.

Read More

1099-Misc Form

A 1099-misc form details receipt of financial assets, such as rental payments, royalties, prizes or awards or other payments for tax purposes.

Read More

W-2 Form

A W-2 is a legal document that businesses must provide to their employees if they make a certain amount of money each year. Employees use their W-2 when they file their taxes. It gives them important information such as what they made and how much money was withheld for taxes.

Read More