Breaking Down Your Bill of Lading

What exactly is a bill of lading? And is it actually important that you fill out the whole thing in detail? Spoiler alert: it is! Learn the most common mistakes that shippers make when filling out their bill of lading—and how to avoid the costly consequences.

What is a Bill of Lading?

If you’ve managed freight shipments, you’ve seen a bill of lading. A bill of lading (BOL) works as a contract between the carrier and shipper, establishing the details of the freight being shipped.

Depending on the type of BOL, it may include information such as:

  • Carrier name and driver signature
  • Date goods are to be shipped
  • A detailed description of goods being shipped (value, size, freight classification, etc.)
  • Shipper and receiver names and addresses
  • Any special instructions for the carrier

Avoiding Common BOL Mistakes

With so much detail required, it’s understandable that shippers might try to skip steps when filling out their BOL. But don’t be fooled! Rushing the process can cause costly delays and loss.

Follow these simple tips to save time, trouble and money when completing a BOL:

  • Be specific. It’s important to include all of the necessary details when completing a BOL. Be sure to specify the number of containers being shipped, as well as the number of goods in each container. This will be important if you need to file a claim.
  • Communicate with your carrier. Make sure to indicate any additional services you may need — such as a liftgate or delivery to a limited access location — on your BOL to avoid expensive delays.
  • Check your work. Make sure to review the details of your BOL before signing. It doesn’t take long, but a simple review could end up saving you from making costly errors in the long-run.

Bill of Lading Forms for Common Freight Carriers

Using a consistent BOL format can help you save time and avoid errors. With myUnishippers™ — Unishippers’ online transportation management system — you can quickly convert quotes to accurate, complete BOLs. Plus, our dedicated team of shipping experts is standing by to answer all of your questions on BOLs and beyond.

Last Updated 11/23/2020


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