Bill of lading

In the world of transportation and logistics, there are many pieces of documents that are absolutely necessary for seamless processing to take place. These documents not only help validate the genuineness of the intent but also help communicate the terms and conditions across different countries, continents and terrains, as per the international guidelines issued. Amongst all of these, one such piece of document that is compulsory to be issued prior the shipment takes place is the Bill of Lading.

What is Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents to be issued and accompanied with the shipped good. It serves as a legal document that is issued to the shipper, by the transportation company or the carrier. Moreover, it also acts as a shipment receipt when the carrier delivers the goods at the mentioned destination. It is signed by an authorized representative at the seller’s, drivers as well as at the receiver’s end. 

Contents

The Bill Of Lading, often abbreviated as BoL or BL, primarily consists of:

  1. Name and addresses of both parties involved in the shipment process
  2. Reference Numbers and Purchase orders
  3. Special instructions like fragility, flammability, delivery notes etc…
  4. Type of packaging being used 
  5. Freight classification of the shipment as per the National Motor Freight Classification Standards (NMFC) 
  6. Special Designation assigned to the material, if any (issued by the Department of Transportation)

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Type of Bill of Lading

There are various types of BoLs that can be issued based on the shipment, terms or mode of transport, each having its own terms and conditions. Hence it is very important to carefully choose the right one for a smoother process flow.

The different types of Bill of Lading includes:

  1. Inland bill of lading – For the transportation of goods over land
  2. Ocean bill of lading – For the overseas international transportation of goods
  3. Through bill of lading – For the transportation of goods via both, national and international boundaries
  4. Negotiable and Non- negotiable bill of lading – In case of the former, it allows the transfer of the contract of carriage to a third party
  5. Claused bill of lading – Signifies a shortfall or damage in the goods
  6. Clean bill of lading – Signifies no damage or loss of goods
  7. Uniform bill of lading – The standardized Bill of Lading around the items or property to be Transported

Recent Governmental Interventions

The government of India recently announced and launched the National Logistics Policy that aims to transform the transportation and logistics sector in the upcoming years. From dedicated freight corridors to productivity enhancement, the policy is set to bring a revolution in the sector upon its effective execution.


Amidst all what it covers, one of the major things it focuses on is digitization and digitalization. Not only does it promote the use of technology driven services but also has started a major shift towards the use of modern digital practices.


For example, recently, the Digital LTL council announced of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) announced the establishment of a new standard for the Electronic Bill of Lading. It is believed to be critical in helping the sector improve its overall efficiency and operational excellence. The eBOL, as commonly abbreviated, is said to be the part of the council’s effort to push digitization in the industry, for enhance supply chain management services. This will not only reduce errors and save time, but help to keep a track as well as mitigate the road blocks faced during operation flow, thus making it smoother and robust.


Not only in India, as per reports across the world, additional digital standards for improved data sharing in logistics and transportation have sprouted up, including the “Open Logistics Foundation” in Germany, the South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP) along the U.S. east coast, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW).  

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