A Bill of Lading is a binding legal document between the consigner and the carrier in the shipment of goods and specifies the nature of goods being transported to the consignee.
There are different types of Bill of Ladings, and basically, the most important in shipment include To Order Bill of Lading, Claused Bill of Lading, Straight Bill of Lading, and Electronic Bill of Lading among others.
When it comes to shipment, a Bill of Lading is an invaluable document that must accompany the goods being shipped and indicates the contents of the consignment, the carrier, the consignee, and the notify party. In this document, there are also addresses of all the parties among other details. Therefore, the different types include:
Clean Bill of Lading
This is an important document during the shipping of goods and is useful for a declaration that the items or goods arrived at the destination port in good shape.
This document is issued after the inspection of the goods on arrival. This document is more important to the carrier of the goods as a guarantee that the goods were not lost or damaged in the shipment process.
Switch Bill of Lading
Switch Bill of Lading is important where there is a likelihood of destination change or changes in the routing of the cargo. This, therefore, obliges the shipping company to issue a different Bill of Lading that replaces the one that was previously issued.
The shipper or the consignor who is indicated in the first BOL is the party that seeks or requests for the Switch Bill of Lading from the shipping line or company. This works to ensure that the cargo or the consignment does not get into another party before the agreement is made with the consignee.
Through Bill of Lading
A thorough BOL is an important document especially when it comes to transporting goods across borders. This is normally the case in most shipments whether across domestic or international borders. This is one of the most complex than others since it has to accompany other BOLs such as the Ocean Bill of Lading, and the Inland Bill of Lading.
Received for Shipment Bill of Lading
This works as evidence that the carrier has received the goods to be shipped. Before any loading of cargo is made, the carrier issues the document to the shipper or consignor to show that all the goods to be transported as in the BOL were received.
To Order Bill of Lading
To Order BOL is an important document during the transfer of the consignment ownership from the person or party that was initially indicated in the original Bill of Lading to the other party. This is only possible when the original consignee endorses the document.
Straight Bill of Lading
Generally, BOL is negotiable and the consignee may change along with the shipment upon endorsement by the consignee as in the To Order BOL. For a Straight Bill of Lading, there is no such negotiations or room for transfer, and the goods consigned are delivered straight to the consignee named in the document.
Electronic Bill of Lading
An Electronic Bill of Lading is just an enhanced electronic document that works instead of the traditional paper BOL. The nature of the Electronic Bill of Lading works to enhance efficiency and is a legal document just like the paper Bill of Lading.
The advantage of using an Electronic Bill of Lading is that it reduces the paperwork and more importantly the administrative costs that are involved in paperwork. It also improves speed since it can pass through all the parties easily. In addition to that, the E-BOL reduces the errors and the time that would have been used to deal with errors as well as the risks of fraud.
There are so many types of Bill of Ladings depending on the nature of the shipment, and how different carriers operate. Some of the others include:
- Negotiable Bill of Lading.
- Forwarders Bill of Lading.
- Bearer Bill of Lading.
- Surrender Bill of Lading.
- Container Bill of Lading.
- Stale Bill of Lading.
Functions of BOL
Since BOL is a contract between the parties involved in the shipment, it serves different functions as seen in the different types of Bill of Ladings above. Some of the most general and most important functions include the following:
The BOL serves as evidence of the contract signed between the consigner or the shipper and the carrier for the transportation of cargo or consignment as captured in the Bill of Lading. In the event one party breaches the contract terms, they will be liable for any damage or anything that may arise against what is stipulated in the terms of the contract.
Evidence of Receipt of Goods
When the goods are delivered to the consignee, the BOL serves to show whether there were goods damaged or lost during shipment or not. A Clean Bill of Lading is then signed by the consignee to show that the goods were delivered.
There are so many functions that a BOL can serve. This depends on the type of Bill of Lading that accompanies the goods being transported. In most cases, more than one type of BOL accompanies the goods due to different demands such as through a Bill of Lading that is essential for cross-border shipment.
It is also important to note that, a Bill of Lading carries with it important contents that are important for transportation. These contents include:
- Names and addresses of all the consigners and the consignee.
- Date when the consignee will pick the consignment.
- Description of items being transported.
- Packaging type and other special instructions.
- Special reference number or purchase orders.
As you have noted, there are so many types of Bill of Ladings. However, not all of them are necessary in a single shipment. The use will depend on the nature of transportation, the type of goods being transported, the routes, and whether there are changes that occur in the process of transportation or not. Therefore, the Bill of Lading is an important document that is useful in case any party breaches the contract terms.