September 1, 2022

Types of Bills of Lading: An Exhaustive & Updated Catalog for 2022

A bill of lading must be completed before any freight may be moved. The bill of lading is a legally binding document that provides the driver and the carrier with all the information they need to handle and appropriately invoice the freight shipment.

A bill of lading is a legal document between the shipper and the carrier that details the products being transported along with their value, weight, and final destination. When the carrier delivers the items to the agreed-upon location, the bill serves as both a shipment receipt and a delivery record. No matter how the packages arrive, this paperwork always travels with them. It must be signed by a duly authorized representative of the carrier, shipper, and recipient. 

The Bill of Lading not only specifies the destination and the condition the shipment must be in, but it also lists the carrier transporting the items there. The bills of lading can be transported via land, sea, or air. 

Sample Bill of Lading 

Let us pretend for a moment that XYZ Fine Dining receives fresh meat and fish deliveries five times per week. The manager establishes the restaurant's meat and fish requirements. After completing a purchase order (PO), XYZ's owner checks it and initializes it before sending it via email to the catering company. A representative from the overnight carrier meets with the vendor to collect the meat and fish, and both parties sign a bill of lading. 

After the carrier has delivered the food, the restaurant manager will check the bill of lading against the PO to ensure that everything has been delivered as expected. If everything checks out, the owner receives the purchase order and bill of lading and cuts a check to the food supplier. 

In this scenario, the buyer will not give the seller payment until they thoroughly examine the purchase order and the bill of lading. This way, XYZ will only be charged for the goods and services it requested and received. When comparing two documents, if the restaurant management notices a discrepancy, he or she will contact the supplier to find out why. Another worker checks the bank statement for discrepancies and deposits money. To effectively prevent theft, each of these measures needs to be implemented. 

How Useful is a Bill of Lading? 

A bill of lading is crucial because it is a legally binding document that gives the carrier and the shipper all the information they need to process a cargo properly. This means that it can be used as evidence in court if necessary and that all parties will take great care to ensure it is correct. 

A bill of lading is irrefutable evidence of shipment and should be kept in that regard. In addition, a bill of lading facilitates the segregation of duties, which is an essential component of any reputable company's internal control framework in the fight against theft. 

What is Purpose of a Bill Lading?

There are three primary functions of a bill of lading. One, it serves as proof of ownership for the items listed on the bill of lading. Second, it serves as proof of purchase for the items sent. As a final point, it indicates the agreed-upon conditions for the transportation of the products. 

What are the Key Differences When Comparing a Bill of Lading to a Commercial Invoice? 

A bill of lading is a contract between a shipper and a transportation business (carrier) that details the shipment's contents, weight, and final destination. An invoice documents the transaction of selling and buying things.

Intended Uses of Bill of lading:

An in-depth comprehension of the bill of lading (BoL) is crucial for those working in the maritime sector. Bills of lading can be broken down into a few distinct types, each serving a slightly different purpose. If you are in the shipping industry, you need to know how to read and interpret a bill of lading, or you will have difficulty functioning. 

Legally binding, the bill of lading is issued by the carrier to the shipper. It specifies what is being conveyed and where it is going. The quantity and kind of the shipped products may be particularly relevant facts. Likewise, the shipping addresses are included. Some examples of bill of lading are as follows: straight bill of lading, ocean bill of lading, order bill of lading, multimodal bill of lading, through bill of lading, master bill of lading, a clean bill of lading, release bill of lading. 

The Role of the Bill of Lading 

A bill of lading has many purposes, including-

Evidence: A bill of lading serves as proof of a carriage agreement. Destinations, types, amounts, and terms and conditions are all part of the legally binding contract. 

Receipt: This document serves as a receipt for the services rendered or goods shipped. It serves as evidence of possession or duty. 

Title:  It serves as the title for commodities.  The carrier's obligation to deliver the goods to the consignee or recipient is implicit in the term "delivery." That person's name must appear on the bills of lading. 

Forms of Bills of Lading

Bills of lading come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose. Every participant in the shipping industry is likely to come into one of these bills of lading variations at some point. At the right moment and for the right reason, picking the proper BoL is of the utmost importance. We provide a short synopsis of each below. 

Straight Bill of Lading 

Bill of lading for consignment is another name for this. The BoL, in this case, is final and cannot be changed. If the products have already been paid for or if payment is not due until after delivery, a free form BoL can be used. The only thing the consignee requires is identification, and then the shipment will be released. There is no place for negotiation in the prearranged shipping and delivery. Upon delivery, it serves as a receipt. This broad category actually encompasses several smaller ones. 

Short Form Bill of Lading 

This bill of lading is simple because it omits the standard conditions usually seen in the reverse. The blank back bill of lading is another name for this document. Customers generally prefer having everything written down for peace of mind; hence BoLs of this nature are rarely used. Since this is a condensed version of an entire straight bill of lading, courts routinely insert the back provisions. 

Bill of Lading on Board 

The shipped-on-board bill of lading is another name for this. Noting that the goods have been transported aboard the designated vessel and are in satisfactory condition is standard practice when preparing a BoL for shipment. Shipments financed by banks may need a BoL on board. 

Bill of Lading on Deck 

Some exporters or manufacturers demand it as a condition of payment so they can prove they shipped the goods. When transporting merchandise over international waterways, a BoL is necessary. It is a receipt for services rendered by the carrier to the shipper and an invoice for the services rendered. 

This BoL may include additional information, such as the value of the cargo and the type of packaging used, in addition to the usual items. When the carrier picks up the items, the shipper gets the contract, which both parties must sign. Then the recipient will be given the paperwork to sign. 

Inland Bill of Lading

Additional paperwork is required if the shipment is first transported by land and then by sea. It is the paperwork needed to get goods to the port before sending them abroad. In many cases, the maritime BoL and the inland BoL must be used to ship automobiles. 

Negotiable Bill of Lading

A conditional release BoL is used when the shipper has unique requirements that must be completed before the shipment can be released to the recipient. Because of this, it can be utilized if the recipient's payment is guaranteed by a letter of credit. When dealing with letters of credit as an importer, exporter, or professional banker, it is common to practice for banks to insist that BoL be written out to their orders. 

Bill of Lading Order 

This is a letter of credit that can be negotiated with the recipient. Delivery and endorsement are required for transfer. The terms of the BoL or airway bill govern the transfer of cargo ownership. It is the antithesis of a standard BoL. The use of order BoLs helps ensure that cargo is not delivered to unauthorized recipients. Once the original BoL has been delivered and endorsed, the consignee might transfer ownership of the items to another person. 

The shipment must be safe before the issuing bank provides a letter of credit for it. This paperwork is necessary to prevent the shipment from being sent to the applicant without their permission. As a result, they may be willing to bargain over the BoL. The BoL is issued at the exporter's request, and the issuing banks follow the terms of the credit transactions. BoLs that are open to negotiations has two primary uses. Since the shipment can only be released to the legitimate owner of the original negotiable BoL, they first restrict delivery to the applicant (company or importer). Also, after the bank has received an importer's letter of credit, it can endorse and deliver BoL. 

Multimodal or via Bill of Lading 

Multimodal and via BoLs are very comparable to one another despite their apparent differences. Despite the many distinct legs, inland waterways, and the ocean, only one means of freight transport is required via BoL. However, there must be at least two different transportation options to transport the goods successfully. Because of this, a multimodal BoL may eventually replace the traditional BoL. A BoL that includes land and marine transportation is an example of a multimodal BoL. 

The Multimodal Transport Operator (MTO) often issues multimodal BoLs, which are printed on the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations' standard document. The MTO would be held liable for any losses, damages, or shortages of the goods during transport. Alternatively, the carrier issues the through BoL. However, the carrier is bound by the contract for the liability that pertains solely to the carriage and not to any other aspects of the trip. 

Clean Bill of Lading 

This is an international shipping agreement between the shipper, the carrier, and the recipient. The documents state that the goods arrived safely and undamaged. This Bill of Lading is issued after a thorough inspection of the cargo has been performed to determine whether or not there have been any discrepancies between the quantity and quality of the cargo and what was loaded. This may also include other BoLs that have some discrepancies from a perfect BoL. This can be seen in the following examples: 

Dirty Bill of Lading 

As the term "claused" or "foul" Bill of Lading suggests, the shipment sustained some form of damage or loss. It serves as an arrival receipt to verify the aforementioned discrepancies and can be used to pursue reimbursement in the future. Financial institutions, banks, and finance firms routinely turn down BoLs with clauses. So, it may be hard for the vendor to receive compensated. 

Permit Delivery of Bill of Lading 

Also called an expedited BoL. Original bills of lading (OBL) are not required for delivery of cargo to the stated consignee under the conditions of this agreement. Unlike a bill of lading, this form of BoL cannot be negotiated. They're utilized when the importer has established credit with the vendor and has not yet paid for the goods. 


A Bill of Lading is a crucial piece of paper that facilitates the smooth transfer of goods between different parties in the supply chain. Bills of lading are shipping documents that come in a variety of forms, each serving a unique function. To get the most out of your logistics plan, you need to know when and how to use each of these tools.

VisionERA offers its customers a one stop solution for invoice and billings. With its advanced, unmatched technology and cutting edge infrastructure VisionERA provides its customers with hassle free operations. VisionERA confidently relies on its own AI technology, with no reliance on third party distributors.  

When it comes to paper-based procedures, VisionERA automates the entire process from beginning to end. Automated document processing, workflow management, and on-the-fly retraining of documents that fell short of quality standards all contribute to this goal. With HI-AI cooperation and End-to-End Sophisticated Automation, tailor-made for sophisticated operations, Wwe will not only help you in getting the top position in your industry niche but will also help in maintaining that as well. DIY Triangulation and Data Validation are our core expertise that provides immense help for BoL.

In addition to its high level of accuracy and speed, VisionERA provides optimum results in no time. Say goodbye to your bulky paper works and look no farther than VisionERA if you are looking for a fast and accurate way to handle your workloads.

Get Started with your Document Automation Journey

$0 Implementation cost | $0 monthly payments -> No Risk, No Headaches

Pay only for Satisfactory Results!

Sign up for Free Trial