Understanding Your Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading (BoL) is vital to the successful transportation of goods. This document acts as a legally-binding agreement that helps the carrier process the shipment according to the contract terms set up by the carrier and shipper. This means that inaccurate BoLs can expose carriers to civil claims or criminal prosecution. A BoL that is properly filled out can prevent delays, loss, and penalties. Click To Tweet

What’s in a Bill of Lading?

There are a few different kinds of BoL, depending on payment, cargo and shipping method. Most every BoL will require the carrier name and signature, the date and an indication of what kind of goods are being shipped, terms and conditions, and a destination. Here is some basic BoL information every form needs:


The cosigner may be the shipper, loader or exporter, depending on the circumstances.  Full name, address, postcode, telephone, fax, and email are required.


The person or company that will receive the shipment. Including name(person/company), address, zip code, telephone, fax, email.

Freight Class

Freight class is based on the weight, length, and height, ease of handling, density, value and liability, damage, fragility, and spoilage of your shipment.


The exact weight of the total shipment. If there are multiple different units, then note each item’s weight.

Description and Packaging

A description of the items being shipped, including the material of manufacture and common name. Also make note of the packaging, including cartons, pallets, crates and drums.

The Importance of Accuracy

A bill of lading may seem complicated, but you only need one BoL at a time per shipment, which makes it a little easier. It’s important to complete the document as accurately as possible during your logistics negotiations and process. BoLs that are properly processed will prevent loss, damage or delay. If you’re still not sure where to start, a shipment manager can take that stress off your shoulders.

Contact Us to learn more about the importance of an accurate Bill of Lading for shipping freight without a hitch.